UT Arlington Men's Basketball 2017 NIT Tournament Capsule


UT-Arlington Mavericks

Sun Belt (25-8, 14-4)

With five starters returning from a team that reached the CIT last season, Texas-Arlington was the clear favorite in the Sun Belt heading into the 2016-2017 campaign. And they did not disappoint, winning the regular season title without too much trouble. But the Mavericks made a statement in non-conference play too. This is a team that went to Texas and Saint Mary’s and came away with victories.
Big Wins: 12/8 at St. Mary’s (65-51), 2/11 Arkansas State (81-75), 2/20 at Georgia Southern (81-71)
Bad Losses: 1/7 at Texas State (73-81), 1/14 at Troy (71-93), 1/30 at Coastal Carolina (70-72)
Coach: Scott Cross
Why They Can Surprise:
Coach Scott Cross has a ton of experienced weapons at his disposal and it starts with forward Kevin Hervey. The 6-9 junior leads the team with 17.1 points and 8.6 rebounds. Hervey is a tough matchup since he is a physical presence in the paint, but he can step outside and hit the three-pointer too. Jorge Bilbao is a great player to have starting beside Hervey. He is a tough rebounder and will do the dirty work. However, Bilbao is scoring more this year too. The best scorers in the backcourt are Jalen Jones and Erick Neal. Neal is also one of the most underrated point guards in the country. His turnover numbers can get a little high, but Neal averages 6.5 assists per game and adds 10.4 points and 1.6 steals.
Why They Can Disappoint:
On the offensive end of the floor, UTA can struggle with their outside shooting. With scoring threats in the paint, this is a team that will get, and take, a lot of open looks from beyond the arc. But they make just 34.2 percent of those attempts from three-point land, ranking seventh in the Sun Belt and 218th in the nation. They have to be more consistent if they want to make an impact in the postseason. On the other end of the floor, the lack of a shot blocker is a problem. Hervey and Bilbao are tough, but that is not going to scare too many slashers or big men from getting in the paint and finding easy buckets.
Probable Starters:
Erick Neal, Junior, Guard, 10.4 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.5 rpg
Jalen Jones, Senior, Guard, 12.4 ppg, 1.2 apg, 4.1 rpg
Drew Charles, Senior, Guard, 7.7 ppg, 1.3 apg
Kevin Hervey, Junior, Forward, 17.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2 apg
Jorge Bilbao, Senior, Forward, 9.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg
Key Role Players:
Faith Pope, Senior, Forward, 5.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Nathan Hawkins, Junior, Guard, 3.5 ppg
Kaelon Wilson, Junior, Guard, 8.2 ppg, 1.1 apg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.9 (71st in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.2 (96, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.4 (77, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.3 (53, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.5 (81, 5)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.2 (218, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.5 (266, 5)
Rebound Margin: 4.1 (58, 2)
Assists Per Game: 15.5 (59, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.2 (178, 9)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2016    CIT      First Round win over Savannah State
2016    CIT      Quarterfinal loss to NJIT
2013    CIT      First Round loss to Oral Roberts
2012    NIT      First Round loss to Washington
2008    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Memphis
*all team stats through 3/5