BURN THE HORSE
|Milwaukee (4-1) vs. UALR (2-3)|
7 p.m. tonight
Jack Stephens Center
Vegas says: UWM by 4.5
After opening the season with five games in 10 days and very little practice time, UALR has had five days uninterrupted by games and travel. That could be as valuable as anything going into tonight’s game against Milwaukee, which is 4-1 after losing at Michigan State on Wednesday night.
What we’ve clearly seen from UALR is the toughening of this group. After getting pounded on the boards on opening night at Tulsa, UALR hung in there in rebounding at Michigan State. The Spartans went the game’s first 22 minutes without an offensive rebound.
Against Michigan State, UALR’s effort was easy to spot. Despite being physically overmatched, UALR battled and fought hard on the defensive end. That was probably as encouraging as anything they’ve done this season.
We also saw a lot of what a bigger UALR lineup might look like. UALR had 6-10 Will Neighbour at the 3, 6-6 Courtney Jackson at the 4, and 6-10 Michael Javes at the 5 for portions of the game. That got Neighbour into some positive matchups for UALR. He was able to post up Michigan State’s guards with some success.
The Panthers are off to their best start to a season since 2004-2005. They’re led by 6-3 senior guard Kaylon Willliams, who averages 11.3 points and 5.5 rebounds. UALR will have to focus heavily on stopping 6-7 junior forward James Haarsma, who averages 11.2 points and 10.2 rebounds. He had 17 rebounds, 10 offensive, on Wednesday against Michigan State.
It does appear Milwaukee will be short-handed for the game. Senior Tony Meier, a 6-8 senior, and Lonnie Boga, a 6-3 junior, are listed in the game notes as unlikely to play.
Milwaukee also has a local flare in 6-7, 230-pound junior Demetrius Harris. He played high school basketball at Jacksonville before going to Mineral Area in Missouri.
So, what do we expect to see tonight?
- A UALR team that fights and scratches for every point, the same way their head coach approaches these games.
- Continued growth in rebounding the basketball. There's been definite improvement and it needs to be solid.
- Better execution against the zone defense (if Milwaukee goes to that). No doubt UALR has spent some time this week working on zone offense execution.
- Real Time RPI (4-1): UALR 74, Milwaukee 68
- Jeff Sagarin (3-2): Milwaukee 78, UALR 70
- CBS Sportsline (3-2): Milwaukee 70, UALR 64
- The Sports Network (3-2): Milwaukee 69, UALR 57