Men primed for postseason push

The UTD men eclipsed the century mark for the first time in almost four years with an impressive 103-72 win over LeTourneau University on Jan. 29.

Five players scored in double figures to pace the Comets in the team’s first 100-point game since a Feb. 19, 2000, win over Dallas Christian College. The win moved the Comets within 1/2 game of the ASC East division lead heading into a Jan. 31 showdown against division leader East Texas Baptist.

The win capped a successful week for the Comets, who three days earlier scored an impressive 73-57 road victory against UT-Tyler (3-13, 1-5). Junior guard Jason Malone poured in 24 points and senior guard Brian Burton chipped in 12.

Two days earlier, free throws did not translate into free points for the Comets against East-leading University of the Ozarks (7-9, 4-1). Shooting just over 51 percent from the line, UTD fell 81-68.

UTD scored just 33 points while shooting 35 percent from the floor in the first half.

“The Ozarks came out ready to play and be physical,” coach Terry Butterfield said.

Down the stretch, the Comets failed to mount a comeback due in large part to turnovers and poor free-throw shooting.

“The turnovers and missed free throws showed we were not ready to play in that game,” Butterfield said. “Our guys are smart. They realize if we don’t do better at the free throw line, we’re not going to win.”

Junior Eric Chatham led the Comets in scoring, netting 14 points.

Two days before wasn’t quite the Civil War, but the game against Austin College did pit brother against brother.

Brian Burton helped lead the Comets to victory Jan. 22 against kid brother Jason, a freshman guard/forward for Austin College. Both brothers scored two points, while Jason held the rebounding edge.

Brian never really talked about the familial significance of the game, Butterfield said. “His focus was on what he could do to help the team win.”

The win against East division foe Austin College (3-12, 1-4) marked the Comets’ homecoming from a two-game swing through Mississippi and Louisiana.

Picking up only their second road win of the season, the Comets knocked off pre-season ASC East favorite Mississippi College (11-6, 3-3) 75-72.

The scoring tandem of Malone and sophomore guard Richard Scott led the UTD squad in what Butterfield called one of the best efforts of the season.

Before returning, the Comets fell to Louisiana College (7-10, 3-3) 79-75 in Pineville, La. Scott again led the scoring attack for the Comets with 14 points.

The Comets (10-8, 5-2) have seven games remaining on their schedule and must be in the top two in the East to qualify for postseason play.

“We are not looking forward to anything. It’s still very early in the conference race,” Butterfield said. “If we don’t take care of each game, there’s not going to be a postseason.”

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