We’ve written a few times this year about Texas-Arlington and Arkansas-Little Rock, two of the most surprising teams in the country and squads that could be legitimate NCAA tourney at-large contenders in March based on their stellar non-conference performances. Alas, their first meeting of the season on Saturday was muted, and it wasn’t because of a snowstorm.
Little Rock defeated UT-Arlington on the road 68-62, improving to 17-2 this year and taking control of the Sun Belt Conference with a 7-1 mark. The Trojans now have an incredible nine road wins already this year, but sadly that’s not the main storyline from this game, or more specifically these two teams right now.
The Mavericks learned on Friday that star forward Kevin Hervey has a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the year after suffering the injury in warmups before the team’s 91-64 win over Arkansas State on Thursday. UTA will be without the sophomore the rest of the season, a major dent in the team’s hopes to continue its success this year.
The 6-foot-8 Hervey was one of the breakout stars of this season, averaging 18.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game after being a 7.1 ppg-scorer as a freshman. He scored 18 in the Mavs’ November win at Ohio State and followed that with 22 in their win three nights later at Memphis. A rangy inside-outside threat, he had started to generate buzz among NBA scouts.
Without Hervey, UTA started terribly slow against UALR on Saturday, falling behind 18-0 and trailing 42-14 at halftime. The final score actually represented a fierce rally by the Mavericks, who got as close as four points late in the game.
Texas-Arlington was more than Hervey-Coach Scott Cross has been playing 10-11 players all year that come at opponents in waves, and the Mavericks are one of the most tenacious offensive rebounding teams in the nation (third nationally at 16.7 per game entering Saturday). Still, it’s unfortunate that we won’t get to see this team finish out the season-one that held such promise-in its best form.
- Phil Kasiecki will have his recap of the day with his Saturday Notes.
- Top performances: Old Dominion guard Trey Freeman lit up Marshall for 37, but the Monarchs still lost 78-75 at home where they used to be nearly unbeatable. Kevin Punter scored 36 points as Tennessee upset nationally ranked South Carolina 78-69, while Trey Davis scored 36 for Massachusetts in a losing cause at home against Saint Louis. Also, Kennesaw State’s Yonel Brown-the hardest-working player in the country, averaging 39.0 minutes per game-scored 34 in the Owls’ 84-79 loss to Stetson.
- Saturday naturally saw a number of schedule changes even before the snow arrived in the northeast, but it also included some games postponed at the last minute. The Army/Navy game earlier in the day at Madison Square Garden and the Marquette/St. John’s game there in the evening were both going to be attempted to be played but were finally axed Saturday. The Warriors and Redmen, er, Golden Eagles and Red Storm will play today at 3:45 EST, now on the SJU campus at Carnesecca Arena, while the Army/Navy game has not been rescheduled yet.
Today’s Menu: Because of the large number of games postponed yesterday, it’s a far larger schedule than usual on a Sunday.
- SMU puts its undefeated record to the test again, and it would surprise few if it ends at Temple (Noon, ESPN2) against an Owls team that looks to be starting to hit its stride, or maybe flight.
- Purdue tries to avenge a loss at home to Iowa (1 p.m., Big Ten Network), looking to get the taste out of its mouths after blowing a 17-point halftime lead and surrendering 50 second-half points in their first meeting.
- Providence goes to Villanova (1 p.m., FOX) and it doesn’t get much better than Ryan Arcidiacono against Kris Dunn and Daniel Ochefu vs. Ben Bentil. The sure thing is the Wildcats at home, but the Friars may move right back into the top 10 with a win here.
- A dandy in the CAA sees William & Mary going to Long Island to face Hofstra. The last time these two met it was in a classic in the CAA tourney semifinals decided by Daniel Dixon’s dagger at the end of double overtime.
- VCU goes for its 10th straight win while hosting St. Bonaventure, which has lost two straight.
- USC is at Oregon State, with the Beavers needing this one worse than the Trojans. Also in the Pac-12, Washington can continue to burnish its credentials if it can top Utah at home (8:30 p.m., ESPNU).
- No one would’ve thought it before the season-and we mean no one-but the Tennessee State at Belmont game will be for first place in the OVC East Division, with the two a combined 11-0 entering the game. The Tigers continue to be one of the great turnaround stories in the country.
- Sunday night, Syracuse faces Virginia (7 p.m., ESPN). Really curious to see the Cuse the next couple weeks to see if they back up that win at Duke.
Enjoy your Sunday, and all out East please stay safe and warm.