After a disappointing loss by the BYU Football team to UMass, Cougar fans did not get the welcome distraction they were hoping for. The BYU men’s baksetball team got blown out by the UT Arlington Mavericks by a score of 89-75 at the Marriott Center on Saturday night. The final score doesn’t indicate how lopsided the game was, as UTA lead 75-50 late in the second half before BYU went on a run once the outcome was already decided. The Mavericks were led by the combination of Kevin Hervey (23 points) and Erick Neal (21 points). Elijah Bryant led the Cougars with 15 points but shot just 3/14 from the field, 1/9 from beyond the arc. Dalton Nixon scored a lot of points in garbage time to match Bryant with 15 points on 5/6 from the field.
BYU had early success feeding the ball into Luke Worthington, who converted a couple of nice jump hooks in the paint, but UT-Arlington managed to stay in the game by hitting a few contested three pointers in the opening minutes. Zac Seljaas uncharacteristically missed a couple of open three pointers in transition, and the Cougars’ early shooting slump let the Mavericks jump out to a 19-15 lead in the first ten minutes of the game. UTA forward Kevin Hervey took advantage of his one on one matchup against Yoeli Childs to score 10 early points to give the Mavericks a 27-17 lead with 5:45 remaining, as the Cougars remained ice cold from distance. UT-Arlington shot 6/11 from beyond the arc in the first half compared to 2/15 for BYU, and the Mavericks held a commanding 43-28 lead at half time.
BYU continued to struggle shooting in the second half against the UTA zone defense, as the Mavericks opened up a 20 point lead just a few minutes into the half. UT Arlington produced highlight after highlight in the second half with behind the back passes, an underhand bowling pass that led to a three pointer, and a high flying alley-oop. The Cougars were never able to cut the deficit much closer than 20 until the very end of the game, and suffered their second blowout loss to UT Arlington at home in the past 8 months.
Other than three point shooting (6 for 27 from beyond the arc), BYU’s major areas of concern were transition defense, rotation in the half court defense, defending the pick and roll, guarding the 3 point line (UTA finished 12/20 from beyond the arc), finishing around the rim on offense, and the ability for any player to create his own shot when the offense breaks down. While this loss doesn’t feel quite as bad the 105-89 loss to UT Arlington in the NIT this past March, the Cougars clearly have a lot of improving to do if they want to remain competitive when they take on Collin Sexton and the Alabama Crimson Tide in New York next week.