Despite not having any games go down to the wire, Thursday night still sent shock waves through the mid-major ranks. Here is a quick look at how the night’s action played out and what it could mean moving forward:
UT Arlington topples Saint Mary’s on the road
The UT Arlington Mavericks traveled to Saint Mary’s to take on the nationally ranked and previously undefeated Gaels and came away with a statement win. The Mavericks took a 14-12 lead with 11:11 to play in the first half and never looked back. When the dust finally settled, it was UT Arlington on top by a final of 65-51.
Saint Mary’s entered the game as the third most efficient offense in the country according to KenPom, trailing only Duke and Villanova in that category. The Mavericks were able to stifle that offense by forcing 16 turnovers including 10 steals and holding the Gaels to just 31 percent shooting. They also held Calvin Hermanson and Emmett Naar, two players who average double figures, to a combined 3-12 shooting and just seven points. The end result was a season-low 51 points scored for the Gaels.
On the offensive side, the Mavericks were paced by their star junior Kevin Hervey. Hervey led all scorers in the game with 15 points and also concluded the night with seven rebounds. Fellow junior Erick Neal supplemented Hervey’s effort with 13 points of his own, to go along with eight assists.
The win makes seven in a row for UT Arlington after a rough 1-3 start to the season. The Mavericks already notched a road win over Texas during their current winning streak, but Thursday night’s win over Saint Mary’s is the best win on their resume. It remains to be seen what UT Arlington’s at-large chances could be, given those three early losses, but they appear to be on track now as conference play creeps closer.
Saint Mary’s will have to bounce back against UC Irvine in a quick turnaround on Sunday. Assuming they can get back to their winning ways for the remainder of the non-conference schedule, this loss should not concern the Gaels much in terms of their postseason future. They still have four wins over KenPom top 100 opponents. The main concern for Saint Mary’s will be making sure their performance on offense against UT Arlington was just an aberration and not the signs of struggles to come down the road.
For more, look at Ellie Lieberman’s quick analysis of the game.
Middle Tennessee makes a statement against Vanderbilt
One win over the SEC was not enough for the Blue Raiders. They notched their second win against the power conference in a little over a week, this time at home, with a 71-48 rout of Vanderbilt on Thursday night.
It was the Giddy Potts Show in Murfreesboro as the junior led his team to victory. Potts poured in 27 points on 10-17 shooting, including 4-9 from three. He also finished just a rebound shy of a double-double. Senior forward JaCorey Williams added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Blue Raiders vaulted to No. 14 in the Mid Major Madness Power Rankings this past week and should continue to rise following their seventh consecutive win. Included in that streak are wins at Ole Miss and on a neutral site over UNC Wilmington (if you can call Nashville a neutral site for them). Middle Tennessee should make waves in Conference USA this year, but Thursday night’s win may have them thinking of an at-large bid. Their next two games, road contests against Belmont and VCU, will go a long way in determining their fate in that regard.
Other finals of note:
- Massachusetts dominated Pacific at home, 72-48. The win moves the Minutemen to 6-2 on the year, tying them for the best record among Atlantic 10 teams with Dayton and St. Bonaventure.
- Little Rock recovered from a rough first half to defeat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 67-52. The Trojans actually trailed the one-win Golden Lions by two at halftime before taking control in the second half.
- Yale pulled itself back to .500 with a 66-52 win at Sacred Heart. It has been a bit of roller coaster thus far for the Bulldogs. They picked up wins against Washington and Lehigh to start the year before dropping four straight. However, they appear to be righting the ship after a win over Albany, followed by Thursday night’s win.