Clarksville, Ark.-The UT-Dallas men's basketball team outscored Ozarks 10-2 in the final 3:12 of the game to solidify a 63-55 win over the Eagles in American Southwest Conference action in Richardson, Texas, on Saturday afternoon.
Brad Johnson converted a layup following one of his four steals in the game with 3:12 left to tie the contest at 53-53. UT-Dallas (3-9, 3-6) quickly answered with a three-pointer to begin a 10-point burst. A Scott McCall layup with 2:16 remaining got the Eagles (7-6, 7-4) within 56-55, but that would be the last points of the game for Ozarks. The Comets hit another three-pointer and then made 4-of-5 free throws down the stretch to secure the win. UT-Dallas held just one lead in the first eight minutes of the first half as Ozarks started the contest strong. The Eagles, however, couldn’t build a big enough lead and shot just 31 percent from the field in the first twenty minutes of play. Ozarks shot 50 percent in the second half, but it wouldn’t be enough. Habeeb Kareem scored a team-best 17 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. “Whenever you go on the road in this league you have to value every win,” said head coach Matt O’Connor. “At UT-Tyler, we executed real well. We established an inside presence. I thought we managed the game well offensively in the second half. But I was dissappointed we couldn’t put it together against UT-Dallas. The guys played hard but we just struggled offensively and UT-Dallas seemed to make the big plays when they needed to. I hope we’ve got our legs about us after playing six straight road games. It’s nice to be back at home this week.” O’Connor has been pleased with his team’s defensive effort thus far. “I think we’ve taken a lot of strides defensively,” said O’Connor. “We are a much better defensive team. If we can combine that with better offensive production, we have a good shot the second part of the year to have a big finish. I’ve been pleased with Scott McCall. He’s been so steady and sometimes the stats don’t tell his play. His defensive effort has been outstanding. Josh Joyner has done a little bit of everything for us. Habeeb has been someone we can count on night in and night out.” Ozarks has ten remaining conference games, with six of those at home. “You don’t ever want to take home games for granted though,” said O’Connor. “It doesn’t mean you are automatically going to win, but it will be nice to see our students and our fans back.” Ozarks begins a three-game home stretch next week beginning with a Monday match-up against Austin College.