UT Arlington coach Scott Cross, right, was disappointed with the Mavericks’ seeding in the NIT. Sixth-seeded UTA will travel to Utah to face third-seeded BYU on Wednesday night. Rodolfo Gonzalez AP
UT Arlington coach Scott Cross, right, was disappointed with the Mavericks’ seeding in the NIT. Sixth-seeded UTA will travel to Utah to face third-seeded BYU on Wednesday night. Rodolfo Gonzalez AP

Men's Basketball

UTA basketball still motivated despite tough NIT matchup with BYU

By Matthew Martinez

mmartinez@star-telegram.com

March 12, 2017 09:34 PM

UPDATED March 13, 2017 11:01 AM

For UT Arlington, the 2016-17 basketball season won’t feature a storybook ending.

After falling 83-62 to Texas State on Saturday in the Sun Belt Conference tournament semifinals, UTA (25-8) was tabbed on Sunday as a No. 6 seed in the NIT. The Mavericks will travel to Provo, Utah, for their first-round matchup against third-seeded BYU.

The game is scheduled for 8 p.m. Wednesday at BYU’s Marriott Center.

We couldn’t host a first-round game, so I don’t know if that had anything to do with our seeding, but regardless BYU is a tough draw.

UTA coach Scott Cross on his team’s NIT spot

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“I was a little disappointed because the projections I saw had us as a 4 seed,” UTA coach Scott Cross said. “We couldn’t host a first-round game, so I don’t know if that had anything to do with our seeding, but regardless BYU is a tough draw.”

BYU (22-11) handed NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed Gonzaga its only loss of the season — 79-71 on Feb. 25 in Spokane, Wash. Power forward Eric Mika had 29 points and 11 rebounds in the upset and averages 20.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

If that reminds UTA fans of anyone, it might be Arlington Bowie’s own Kevin Hervey, who in his junior season is averaging 17.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. BYU averages just over 80 points per game and is 14-3 at home this season.

UTA has participated in the NIT twice (1981, 2012), losing in the first round both times.

UTA played the loss to Texas State without injured guard Jalen Jones, a senior and the team’s second-leading scorer (12.4 points per game) who hurt his right hand in the team’s quarterfinal victory over Coastal Carolina. His status for the NIT is uncertain.

“It was extremely disappointing for everyone because we didn’t play our best basketball,” Cross said of UTA’s effort against Texas State. “It doesn’t sit well with anybody, so hopefully you can find lessons behind each loss and improve the next time out. I know there’s a lot of motivation in our guys to do that.”

The 2017 NIT will also feature some experimental rules. Stopping short of officially moving to four quarters instead of two halves, each half will be divided into two 10-minute “segments.” Shot-clock length will also be adjusted to 20 seconds when the ball is inbounded in the frontcourt.

Matthew Martinez; 817-390-7760; @MCTinez817

UT Arlington's Kaelon Wilson and Kevin Hervey say win over No. 12 Saint Mary's another confidence boost

UT Arlington men's basketball players Kaelon Wilson and Kevin Hervey (of Arlington Bowie) helped lead the Mavericks to an upset over No. 12 Saint Mary's Thursday. It's the first win over a top 25 team in UTA history (Video by Stefan Stevenson/Star-Telegram).

sstevenson@star-telegram.com