The men’s basketball team (11-15, 7-8) ended a two-game losing streak with a 77-67 win over Arkansas State University on Thursday at College Park Center.
UTA entered Thursday’s matchup in a tie for sixth place in the Sun Belt Conference. The Mavericks shared a 6-8 conference record with Coastal Carolina University.
Senior guard Brian Warren started the game off the bench, marking the fifth time the Indianapolis native has been out of the starting lineup.
Head coach Chris Ogden said he expects to stick with Thursday’s starting lineup for the rest of the regular season. He said bringing Warren off the bench gives UTA an advantage.
“We’re gonna stay with that,” Ogden said. “We just like his speed coming off the bench.”
The Mavericks held the upper hand throughout most of the first half. Arkansas State only led for 34 seconds in the period. Warren, freshman guard Sam Griffin and senior forward Radshad Davis led UTA in scoring with 10 points each.
Arkansas State seemed to close the scoring gap with UTA early in the second half, cutting the Mavericks’ lead to eight points with 18 minutes left to play. UTA responded by outscoring Arkansas State 12-4 in the next three minutes.
Some extracurricular activities followed as sophomore forward Jordan Phillips got into a scuffle with J.J. Matthews, Arkansas State junior forward, with about 15 minutes left in the second half. Phillips grabbed a defensive rebound and seemed to get angry when Matthews tried to rip the ball out of his hands after the play was whistled dead.
Phillips received a flagrant two foul and was ejected from the game, while Matthews received a flagrant one foul.
“Things like that happen so quick. You’re trying to make sure no one leaves your bench because that’s when you get problems and guys get suspended,” Ogden said. “Credit our guys for responding and not letting that change the momentum of the game.”
Although the Red Wolves outscored UTA 39-38 in the second half, the Mavericks held on to pick up their seventh conference win of the season. Thursday’s win coupled with UTA’s 73-52 victory over Arkansas State in January gave the Mavericks a regular season sweep over the Red Wolves.
Four Mavericks had double-digit scoring lines to close out the contest. Griffin led all scorers with 19 points on 7-13 shooting.
Griffin said he’s taking better shots now than he was at the beginning of the season.
“In the beginning, I used to force a lot of shots,” Griffin said. “It’s just flowing throughout the offense.”
The men’s basketball team will continue a five-game home stand with a matchup against the top team in the Sun Belt, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, at 2 p.m. Saturday at College Park Center.