Game #9-523: Utah State Aggies vs. Texas-Arlington MavericksMarch 14, 2013 11:30 pm
Las Vegas, NV
It has been a disappointing season for both of the teams in the fourth quarterfinal game of the WAC tournament. Utah State's WAC leadership had been derailed by health issues. Forward Danny Berger collapsed and was resuscitated by the training staff in December; he seems to be returning to health and may be cleared to play again in the future. In the immediate aftermath of that situation, a game against Brigham Young was postponed until the BracketBusters week toward the end of the season. In the game against New Mexico State in Las Cruces
, leading scorer Preston Medlin and forward Kyisean Reed suffered season-ending injuries; guard Spencer Butterfield was injured against Denver late in the season, but he returned before the tournament.
The Aggies (21-9, 11-7 WAC) ended the season tied with the University of Texas at Arlington Mavericks (17-12, 11-7 WAC) for fourth place. The tiebreaking system made UTA the fourth seed because of their season sweep of the Aggies: 74-68 in Logan in late January and 61-46 in Arlington in early March. The Mavericks were the regular season winners of the Southland Conference last year and entered this season with high hopes of competing with the top teams of the WAC. They were swept by Louisiana Tech and Denver, split with New Mexico State, and lost a couple of other games (to Seattle and Idaho) that kept them out of regular season title contention. Like Louisiana Tech, Arlington lost both games on the final weekend of the season at Denver and New Mexico State
. Utah State finished with wins over Texas State and UTSA. Both teams were 6-4 in their final ten regular season games.
The Mavericks started the game strongly, scoring the first five points, ten of the first twelve, and eighteen of the first twenty-four. Forwards Karol Gruszecki and Jordan Reves led the early scoring; guard Kevin Butler scored eight straight for UTA for the 18-9 lead. TeNale Roland had two superhoops for the Aggies in the early going. A superhoop by Jamel Outler, and driving layups by Cameron Catlett, Greg Gainey, and Reves made the UTA lead 27-9. Utah State's offense started to show up a bit for the rest of the half, primarily from Butterfield and forward Jarred Shaw. The Mavericks continued to drive to the hoop for short jumpers and layups, and their halftime advantage was 40-29.
For the Aggies, Butterfield had fourteen first-half points; Shaw and Roland had seven each, leaving only one point for someone else (forward Marvin Jean). Arlington was led by Butler's ten points. Reves added seven, Gruzsecki and Catlett six each, and Outler had five. Surprisingly, Utah State led in rebounding 14-12; each team shot a good percentage (56% for the Aggies, 53% for the Mavs). Also surprisingly, Utah State, normally a team with a patterned half-court offense leading to easy baskets, only had two assists in the first period; UTA had ten assists in the half.
The Aggie man-to-man defense improved after the break; early in the half, UTA was not getting the driving layups that built the first half lead. A 6-1 Utah State run cut the lead to six in about ninety seconds. Arlington coach Scott Cross used an early timeout; a couple of minutes later, he used another with the lead still six. Utah State took the ball inside, relying on forwards Ben Clifford and Jarred Shaw for much of their scoring. A Clifford superhoop gave USU a 53-52 lead; UTA responded with an 8-3 run, led by a pair of Gruszecki triples, putting them four points ahead midway through the half. The battle continued for both teams. Roland's three-pointer gave Utah State another lead, 63-62. Clifford's second increased the margin to 66-64. Freshman guard Drew Charles answered with a superhoop of his own, putting the Mavericks back ahead. Guard Shaquille White-Miller and Gruszecki hit big three-pointers as UTA pushed the margin back to five with about a minute-and-a-half to play.
Butterfield made two free throws. Catlett drove for a bucket. Shaw made an and-one. Catlett made both throws of a one-and-one; UTA now up four with 56 seconds left. Butler made the front end, but missed the second try of another bonus situation. Clifford drilled a three with 38 seconds to go; Stew Morrill took a USU timeout trailing by two. Immediately, Butler was fouled again; he rattled in the first throw, and missed the second. Clifford got the rebound, but had the ball stolen by UTA. Reves missed both free throws with 18 seconds to play, but Butler got yet another steal and basket to seal the victory. Final score: UT-Arlington 83, Utah State 78.
Shaw led the Utah State scoring with twenty and rebounding with nine. Butterfield had nineteen points; Roland and Clifford had sixteen each. Kevin Butler led all scorers with twenty-three. Gruszecki added seventeen; Reves and Catlett had twelve each. Both teams shot the ball extremely well: USU 58% for the game and 9 of 19 from beyond the three-point arc; UTA made 52% of their tries, and ten of twenty-three from outside. Each team made half of its three point attempts in the second stanza.
In the postgame interviews, Utah State announced that they would not accept a post-season invitation; they are now headed to the Mountain West for next season. The WAC's final four added Texas-Arlington to face New Mexico State in one semifinal; the other matches Texas State and UTSA; three of the four WAC semifinalists were in the Southland Conference last season.
TEXAS-ARLINGTON 83, UTAH STATE 78
UTAH STATE 21-10 (11-7) -- S. Butterfield 6-9 5-5 19; J. Shaw 8-13 4-5 20; T. Roland 5-10 3-5 16; M. Davis 0-3 4-4 4; B. Clifford 5-6 2-2 16; M. Jean 0-1 1-2 1; J. Stone 1-1 0-2 2; M. Lopez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-43 19-25 78.
TEXAS-ARLINGTON 18-12 (11-7) -- K. Butler 8-13 4-6 23; J. Reves 5-6 2-6 12; K. Gruszecki 6-16 1-1 17; C. Catlett 5-10 2-2 12; S. White-Miller 1-3 0-0 3; B. Edwards 2-5 0-0 4; G. Gainey 2-5 0-0 4; J. Outler 1-1 2-2 5; D. Charles 1-1 0-2 3. Totals 31-60 11-19 83.
Three-point goals: USU 9-19 (J. Shaw 0-1; B. Clifford 4-5; M. Davis 0-3; T. Roland 3-7; S. Butterfield 2-3), UTA 10-23 (K. Butler 3-7; J. Outler 1-1; B. Edwards 0-2; S. White-Miller 1-3; K. Gruszecki 4-9; D. Charles 1-1); Rebounds: USU 27 (J. Shaw 9), UTA 26 (K. Butler 5); Assists: USU 10 (M. Davis 5), UTA 17 (C. Catlett 7); Total Fouls -- USU 15, UTA 19; Fouled Out: USU-M. Davis; UTA-None.
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