With just a few games left on its nonconference schedule, the men’s basketball team (3-7) is gearing up to face No. 8 Gonzaga University on Tuesday in Spokane, Washington.
The Mavericks are currently on a six-game skid, most recently falling to the University of North Texas in a two-point nail-biter.
“When you play the right way, sometimes you just run out of time. It’s a bigger vision of what we have and we want to be playing our best basketball come late February and March,” head coach Chris Ogden said. “As long as we keep getting better and keeping our eye on that, then we’re going to be okay.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Gonzaga was ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation. The Bulldogs quickly dropped in the rankings as their record went from 9-0 to 9-2.
UTA enters the matchup with a strong and healthy starting lineup. Junior guard Edric Dennis will make his return after sitting out for the last three games with a foot injury.
Some key players to look out for in Tuesday night’s contest are freshman forward Patrick Mwamba, junior guard Brian Warren and freshman guard David Azore, Ogden said.
With Mwamba bouncing back from an ankle injury and Warren and Azore getting in their groove, expect for the trio to have a good game, Ogden said.
As far as scouting Gonzaga, Ogden said the team’s size and overall talent is really good: They have some future NBA players, so UTA just has to hold its own on the boards.
Back when Ogden was appointed as head coach, athletic director Jim Baker made it known that he wanted UTA to be the next Gonzaga, more so the “Gonzaga of the south.”
Ahead of his senior year, alumnus Kevin Hervey said he would like to see UTA turn from a mid-major to a Gonzaga-type school, competing with high-majors year in and year out.
Now, the Mavericks will be put to the test not only against one of the top teams in the country but the team they’ve longed to emulate.
The men’s basketball team is set to tipoff versus Gonzaga at 8 p.m. at McCarthey Athletic Center in Washington.