UVU MBB upsets Tarleton State on the road, moves into fifth-seed

Reading Time: 3 minutes Utah Valley MBB upset Tarleton State on Thursday 63-60, improving to the fifth seed in the WAC standings ahead of the Tournament.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The UVU Men’s basketball team gets a crucial win against second-place Tarleton State, 63-60, in a phenomenal defensive effort that would see the Wolverines erase a 13-point deficit, and the Texans being held scoreless for the final six minutes of the game. 

The Wolverines would start strong, with Drake Allen starting things off with a smooth scoop layup. However, this first half would be marked by two teams who seemingly mirrored each other, struggling with the same flaws and excelling in the same facets, matching each other closely in shooting percentage, turnovers, and rebounds. Neither team could find their touch from deep, and these 3-point struggles would require a strategy change from both teams, with the paint becoming the battleground where the game would be won or lost. 

Both teams would find offensive success down low, but as the first half winded down Utah Valley would start to fall apart. Consistent offensive turnovers would lead to frustrating defensive lapses, with Tarleton State finding themselves with easy layup opportunities too often. In under two minutes, a four-point lead would balloon to a ten-point lead for the Texans.

 The Wolverine’s offensive struggles would be summed up in a single possession, where four offensive rebounds by the Wolverines would lead to four straight missed threes, with UVU getting bailed out at the end of the sequence with a putback layup by freshman Ethan Potter. The Wolverines weren’t just chilly from three, they were ice cold. A bright spot for the Wolverines was the consistent defensive effort by Senior Trevin Dorious and Potter, whose presence both off the ball and on the ball, would keep the lead from getting as high as it could’ve been. 

Dorious would continue to make his mark as the second half began, as the conference leader in blocks would add one more to his count. This was along with Potter, who recorded a career-high in rebounds with 15 and would add 22 points, also a career-high. These two, along with an added 20 points by Allen, would whittle away at the Texans’ lead with exceptional play down low. The Wolverines’ little momentum would be stopped however by inopportune fouls, with Jaden Mcclanahan recording his third early in the second half, a foul that would send him to the bench. 

The Wolverines would start to lock up defensively as the half continued, with Potter and Dorious continuing to play effective defense down low, and thanks to some timely steals by Allen, The Texans would go the final six minutes of game time completely scoreless. And finally, thanks to a tough offensive rebound by Potter and two clutch free throws, the Wolverines would cap off their monstrous 16-2 run by finally taking their first lead since early in the first half with one minute to go. A crucial possession would follow, as the Texans tried to test the Wolverines’ interior defense once again, and once again, Dorious was there to meet them, getting his final, and most important defensive stop of the game. From there, the Texans would try to foul in an attempt to steal this game back, and unfortunately, the Wolverines would struggle to put this game away, missing two of their last four free throws, and giving the TSU one last chance to win the game. A half-court heave by TSU’s Lue Williamson that would fall short and end the contest.

The Wolverines erased two separate 13-point deficits, on the road, against the second-place Tarleton State Texans, who were on a ten-game win streak, all without hitting a single three-pointer. This was a bold and necessary win, one which shows the resilience of the Wolverines moving to fifth in the WAC standings, and further improving their seeding for the upcoming WAC tournament. This game showed how effective this team can be, especially defensively, and hopefully, they can ride this momentum to Abilene Christian and into the WAC tournament next week. The season finale in Abilene, Texas against Abilene Christian University will take place this Saturday at 2:00 PM and will be broadcast on ESPN+. 

A win versus the Wildcats would lock the Wolverines into fifth place in the WAC standings and would play the eighth seed in the first round of the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas next week. Right now, the eighth seed is held by Cal Baptist whom Utah Valley has defeated twice this year in dominating fashion.

A loss to the Wildcats could potentially drop Utah Valley to as low as the seventh seed.