Monday, November 29, 2021

UTA vs UCSB Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

UCSB (2-1) vs University of Texas, Arlington (0-5)
Monday, November 29, 2021, 6 pm PST
Quick Bite:  The Gauchos continue with the third game of their season-long five game home stand, hosting the Mavericks of UT Arlington.  This is the return game of the 2019 matchup in Arlington that the Gauchos won 72-68.  The Mavericks have played a very tough, road heavy schedule and have yet to win a D1 game.  Their game with the Gauchos will be their 5th straight against a team that played in the NCAAs last year.
UTA-UCSB History
In the 2019 victory for the Gauchos, Amadou Sow led the way with 23 points on 8-10 from the field, including a perfect 6-6 from the FT line.  Jaquori added 22 points and Ramsey dished out 6 assists.  In the only other game between the schools, back in 1970 the Gauchos handily defeated the Mavericks 96-67 in Rob Gym.

Head Coach:
Long-time assistant, including 12 years with UTA, Greg Long finally gets his first D1 head coaching gig in taking over the Mavericks this season.  He replaces Chris Ogden who departed to become the Associate HC at the University of Texas   

Roster & Overview of the Mavericks
With the departure of their head coach, the Mavs also lost some of their fire power from last year due to transfer/graduation, including three of their top four scorers.  They do return some major contributors who both missed much of last year in David Azore and Lazaro Rojas.  They also bring in a solid GT point guard in Javon Levi.  Azore, who is the only Maverick that will be on the court that played against UCSB in 2019, is their team leader in scoring FT attempts.
Their challenging schedule has had road games at Oklahoma St, North Texas whichupset Purdue in the 1st round last year), San Diego St and  Utah State.  Their lone home game which they lost in OT was vs. Abilene Christian which upset Texas in the first round last year.  In their two most recent games they lost to USU by 19 and to SDSU by just 6.

Probable Starters
Guard Javon Levi  #1  GT, 5’11”, 175lb 6.2 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.7 rpg, 27 mpg
Four year starter at UT Rio Grand Valley. Ranks in the top 10 in that school’s history in multiple categories. One of the best passers in the sport, he led the country in assist rate in 2019-20, and is a terrific defender.
Guard David Azore  #4  RS Senior, 6’4” 205 lbs  13.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 29 mpg
A strong threat on offense, excellent at getting to the FT line, ~4 attempts per game, making them at 83% clip. Normally an excellent 3 point shooter, he is just 2-17 so far this year.  Turning it over this year a lot too, a .27 ATO ratio
Wing Pedro Castro  #21 RS Senior, 6’6”, 180 lb  7.3 ppg,  5 rpg, 29 mpg, 29% from deep
Has gone a circuitous route through college, his first two years at UTA (one a RS), transferred to a JC, had a terrific year last year at Houston Baptist averaging 15 ppg and 7 rpg and has now made his way back to UTA.
Wing Montez Young  #24  Freshman, 6’5”, 192 lb   4.8 ppg,  4.5 rpg, 17 mpg, just 2-8 from the FT line.  Was scoreless vs. USU
Forward Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu #0  RS Junior 6’9”, 190 lb   4.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 bpg
Former walkon, “Ako” is from Nigeria and is a one man block party.  Led the team in rebounds last year and had an impressive 60 blocked shots in the shortened season.           
Possible Key Reserves
Guard Carson Bischoff #3  RS Junior, 6’4”, 210 lb,  9 ppg, 17 mpg
Made his season debut vs. USU and went 3-5 from deep and snagged two steals.  Had been out recovering from back surgery.
 Forward Shemar Wilson #22  Sophomore 6’9”, 225 lb  6.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg
JC transfer Sophomore has had an immediate impact and has started one game.
 Guard Jack Hoiberg  #10  Graduate, 5’11”, 172lb  4.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.8 apg, 20 mpg
Transfer from Michigan St.  Son of former NBA player, Bull’s coach and current Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg.
 Guard Brandyn Talbot #5  Freshman, 6’5”, 176 lb,  4.3 ppg, 17 mpg
 F/C Lazaro Rojas #12 RS Senior, 6’11”, 235 lb  9.6 ppg, 7 rpg, 20 mpg
Played at Fresno St for 3 years before transferring to UTA last season.  Missed about half the year due to injury.  From Brazil.
 Forward Patrick Mwamba  #23  RS Junior,  6’7” 201 lbs 
Has played just 3 games this year but had a meaningful role last season; 7ppg and 4 rpg and the leading returner in 3pt makes (38%).  From the Congo. 
Guard Nicolas Elame  #20  Junior, 6’3”, 185lb  7.6 ppg, 18 mpg
Has started just one game, DNP in the USU game due to a hamstring injury and won’t play vs. UCSB.  Leading returning player in minutes played.  Born in France, grew up in Cameroon, came to the USA at age 16.
Match-up & prediction:
 Despite having to replace some critical pieces and their rough beginning, the Mavericks should eventually improve this year and contend in the Sun Belt.  They are  better than what their record would have you believe. They are the type of team that will create challenges for the Gauchos in that they have two guards that are extremely adept at penetrating defenses, an area of weakness for the Gauchos this young season.   Forward Akobundi is one of the leaders in the country in blocked shots so Sow will have his work cut out for him. 
Keys to the game for the Gauchos
·        Improvement by the Gaucho guards in perimeter defense. 
·        Get Ako in foul trouble.  He is an impact defender, fully capable doing to the Gauchos what Efe Agobidi of Washington State did in Pullman (6 blocks)

Prediction:  This is going to be a struggle, especially early, as the Gauchos aren’t yet defending at a high level.  They’ll (probably) pull it out in the end but there will be some tense moments.  In Sow we trust and look for Norris to bust (out).  
 UCSB 82  UTSA 74
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Fun facts about UTA:  School has been known as UT Arlington since 1967 after joining the UT system in 1965.  It was founded in 1895, went through several private military school iterations that all failed financially before going public & eventually becoming part of the Texas A&M system. Within the A&M system, the school quickly grew, eventually changing its name to the North Texas Agricultural College.  The rapid growth led to the College Station home campus to feel threatened and they began blocking funding to their northern campus.  UTA officials shook off the shackles by joining the UT system.  UTA is now a huge school with over 42,000 students. 
Initially known as the Rebels with accompanying Confederate fanfare and even mock slave auctions;  administrators ditched the Rebs, replacing it with the Mavericks in 1971.  Their women’s volleyball team made the Final 4 in 1989 and their men’s team has made the Big Dance once.  In 2017 the men advanced to the NIT quarterfinals.

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