App plays down in loss to Texas-Arlington, 82-72

App plays down in loss to Texas-Arlington, 82-72
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By David Coulson. January 10, 2019. BOONE, NC — While it might seem a stretch to some to label a men’s basketball game in early January as a must-win, the stakes facing Appalachian State on Thursday evening at the Holmes Convocation Center approached that type of critical mass against Texas-Arlington.

COVER IMAGE: O’Showen Williams (4) of App State drives the lane to a layup. All photographic images by Bill Barbour for Blowing Rock News

Already 0-2 after the first week of Sun Belt Conference play and facing the daunting stretch of a contest against one of the league’s best teams — Texas State (13-3, 2-1) — on Saturday before embarking on a three-game road swing, the last thing the struggling Mountaineers needed was a loss at home against an SBC bottom feeder.

But Appalachian (5-11 overall) failed to seize that opportunity before a sparse, announced crowd of 827, squandering a 32-28 halftime lead in its 82-72 loss to the Mavericks (5-11, 1-2).

“We played some really good teams in November and December,” ASU coach Jim Fox said. “We’re giving up 43 percent on the floor against really good teams. And now it feels like we’re giving up 70 percent from the floor. All of a sudden we can’t stop anyone.”

Led by 20 points and five assists from pint-sized, bearded point guard Brian Warren, UTA roared to an 11-0 spurt as the Mountaineers missed their first seven shots — including three lay-ins — over the first four minutes of the second half to erase the lead and go ahead 39-31.

The Mavericks — the worst-shooting team in the Sun Belt — never looked back as they nailed 7-of-9 three-pointers and sank 64.3 percent of their shots from the field in the second half. David Azore added 16 points and TiAndr Jackson-Young contributed 14 for Arlington.

Jackson drilled two key treys during that crucial second-half stretch.

Isaac Johnson and Ronshad Shabazz paced App State with 16 points each, while O’Showen Williams and Tyrell Johnson came off the bench for 13 and 12 respectively, but the Mountaineers couldn’t find enough offensive flow to stay in the game over the final 20 minutes as they shot 39.7 percent overall.

“I just feel like everybody’s got to find it in themselves to compete and get stops when we need them,” Williams said. “I just feel like we need to focus on defense right now. Offense is not really our problem right now. I feel like defense is our problem right now.”

And the defense was definitely a problem in the final 20 minutes.

“In the second half, we lost focus,” Johnson said. “Some of the guys, including myself, came out slow. We lacked energy. It’s just one game. We just have to bounce back from this.”

Fox had a bit of a different look at Appalachian’s troubles during a stretch where the team has dropped six of the past seven games.

“I don’t think it is a lack of focus, I think it is a lack of confidence. We’ve got to be mentally and physically tough.”

Fox added that the difficulties the Mountaineers are enduring are not because of a lack of work ethic.

“We don’t practice like this. We practice well. We’re not catching any breaks either. We’ve got to push through it. We’ve got to change something Our backs are against the wall, there is no doubt about it. I believe we are a good team. Unfortunately we are really struggling right now.”

About The Author

As Editor and Publisher of Blowing Rock News, David Rogers has chosen a second professional career instead of retirement. For more than 35 years, he served in the financial services industry, principally in institutional equity research. He grew up in the oilfields north of Bakersfield, California and was a high school English major and honors student. From an economically disadvantaged family background, he worked his way through college (on grounds crew and in dining hall, as well as advertising sales for college newspapers), attending Johnston College at the University of Redlands, Claremont McKenna College, and California State University, Bakersfield. Other jobs to pay for college included a Teamsters Union job in South Central Los Angeles, a roustabout in the central California oilfields, and moving sprinkler pipe and hoeing weeds in the cotton fields west of Bakersfield. Rogers' financial services industry career took him from Bakersfield to La Jolla and San Diego, then to Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Newport Beach and Charlotte before arriving in the High Country in 2000 to take a volunteer position coaching the rugby team at Appalachian State University and write independent stock market research. He spent three years as a senior financial writer for a global financial PR firm with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai, Beijing, Tel Aviv, and Frankfort (Germany). Rogers is the author of "The 90% Solution: Higher Returns, Less Risk" (2006, John Wiley & Co., New York). He is married to wife Kim (Jenkins Realtors), and shares in the joy provided by her three grown children and five grandchildren.

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