Neighbour started and got UALR off to an 11-4 start. He re-entered when UAFS cut the lead to 2 points and got it back up to 11. He had similar numbers in the second half. UALR outscored UAFS 65-40 during Neighbour's minutes on the court.
The best five on Tuesday were Neighbour, sophomore James White (+19), junior DeVonte Smith (+13), senior Leroy Isler (+11) and junior Ben Dillard (+11).
Looking at the season totals, UALR is better offensively or defensively depending who is in the game.
So far this season, the best five offensively have been: Smith, sophomore Josh Hagins, Dillard, White and Neighbour. The best five defensively have been: Hagins, freshman Mareik Isom, Isler, Neighbour and junior Gus Leeper.
We continue to see growth from this UALR basketball team. The next couple of games will really test just how far they have come.
UALR rolled to an 88-74 victory over Arkansas-Fort Smith on Tuesday. You might not think a 14-point victory over a NCAA Division II opponent is rolling, but it really was. UALR never trailed and held a 25-point lead with 5:30 left.
“I thought we did a good job from an energy standpoint from the start,” UALR Coach Steve Shields said. “I think our guys respected who UA-Fort Smith is.”
If you do the research, you’ll find that UAFS has a chance to be a very good team in Division II this year. They stayed tight at TCU earlier this year and are currently ranked No. 18 in D2.
Up next is a trip to Tulsa on Saturday afternoon (weather permitting). Tulsa has just one victory this season but they’ve played a schedule that is tougher than UALR’s tough schedule. Then UALR gets Memphis before going to the tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“I think we’ve made progress each and every game,” Shields said. “We’re continuing to get better offensively.”
It was another mostly solid effort for sophomore guard Josh Hagins on Tuesday. He finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and just 1 turnover. Hagins made 3 of 5 three-pointers.
UALR was once again without junior J.T. Thomas and freshman Andrew Poulter. Thomas is getting closer to returning but it doesn’t appear likely he’ll play on Saturday at Tulsa. Poulter continues to rehab and has started running. They hope he’ll return in time for Sun Belt play in January.
UALR junior point guard DeVonte Smith had 9 assists and 0 turnovers in 30 minutes.
“He brought good energy and is continuing to get better on the defensive end,” Shields said.
STAT OF THE GAME
All 11 UALR players saw at least 10 minutes of action, attempted at least three field goals and scored at least 1 point.
GLASS HALF FULL
Sophomore forward James White had a double-double on Tuesday with 11 points and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes. He also had 2 blocks and 2 steals.
“He’s a guy who can average between 7 and 9 rebounds a game,” Shields said. “He was very active on the glass on both ends tonight.”
GLASS HALF EMPTY
Senior forward Will Neighbour was mostly unstoppable (20 points in 26 minutes) except in one area. He had 5 turnovers and now has a team high 22 for the season.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Come to Paint: UALR held a 28-14 advantage in points in the paint but both teams made 17 of 24 free throws. Grade: B-.
Cut Them Loose: UALR jumped out to an 11-1 lead. Even though UAFS cut the lead to 2 midway through the first half, UALR stepped on the gas and led by double digits the rest of the way. Grade: A-
Boarding School: UALR held a 45-29 advantage in rebounds, including 17-7 in offensive rebounds. Grade: A.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
There was no line on the game
UALR travels to Tulsa (1-6) on Saturday afternoon. Tulsa’s victory came against Indiana State and there losses, mostly close, have been to Oral Roberts, Missouri State, Wichita State, Creighton, TCU and Wisconsin-Green Bay. They play Texas Southern tonight.
UALR did what it was supposed to do on Tuesday, beating Arkansas-Fort Smith 88-74 at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
UALR improves to 3-4 on the season and has won 3 of its past 4 games. UAFS remains 6-0 on the season and No. 18 in NCAA Division II (the game counts as an exhibition for them). The game reunited UALR Coach Steve Shields and UAFS Coach Josh Newmann, who was once a Shields’ juco assistant.
Senior forward Will Neighbour led UALR with 20 points and 5 rebounds. Freshman Mareik Isom had 12 while sophomores Josh Hagins and James White each had 11 points. White turned his night into a double-double with 11 rebounds.
Junior point guard DeVonte Smith was nearly perfect. He finished with 5 points but had 9 assists with 0 turnovers in a team-high 30 minutes of action.
UALR was sharp from the start, taking a quick 11-1 lead on the strength of inside play from Neighbour and White. UAFS cut the lead to 2 midway through the first half before a UALR run put the Trojans up 45-29 at halftime.
UAFS hung around shooting the three-pointer in the second half. But the Lions never got closer than 12 points in the second half. The lead reached 25 points before UAFS made a garbage-time run.
UALR was over 50 percent shooting from the field most of the night. The Trojans ended up at 47.7 percent, including 42.9 percent from three-point range. UALR held a 45-29 rebounding advantage against a UAFS team that had been outrebounding its opponents by 12 per game.
UALR also had 19 assists, 6 steals and 3 blocked shots.
All 11 UALR players in uniform scored and played at least 10 minutes.
|7 PM TONIGHT|
JACK STEPHENS CENTER
UAFS plays in NCAA Division II and is currently the No. 18 team in the country. The Lions are 6-0 on the season in games played against NCAA Division II and NAIA opponents. Tonight's game counts as a regular season game for UALR and as an exhibition game for UAFS. Earlier this season, UAFS lost a close "exhibition" game at TCU.
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