UALR Gameday: Trojans hope to cut teeth as Missouri State visits


Missouri State (4-3)
at UALR (3-6)
4:30 p.m. today
Jack Stephens Center
Vegas Says: MSU by 7.5
The young Trojans continue to teethe through the early part of this schedule. They've done some gnawing so far. But at some point, they’re going to start biting. If today’s the day, UALR will have to reverse the current trends. That includes some of its early-season struggles and it’s all-time struggles against Missouri State.

UALR has done pretty well in most of these home-and-homes. When they haven’t won the home game in the series, they’ve been able to steal the road game in a lot of cases. That hasn’t been the case against Missouri State, which has destroyed UALR in the first three games of this four-year series.

Missouri State looked tremendous in winning its first four games of the season. But the Bears have now dropped three straight. Is there an opportunity for the Trojans?

BTH Keys to Winning

1. Better start. UALR has lost all three games of this current four game series by an average of 31 points. In those games, UALR has trailed 43-28, 33-22 and 33 23 at halftime. We like what we’ve seen of UALR’s new starting lineup of D’Andre Williams, Ben Dillard, Taggart Lockhart, Courtney Jackson and Will Neighbour. We need to see more of it on Saturday.
Point guard D'Andre Williams
went from 8 turnovers against SMU
to none against Philander.

2. Turnovers and rebounds. It’s the same pretty much every game. You win the turnover and rebound battles and you greatly increase your chances of winning the game. Missouri State doesn’t turn the ball over much. They’re in the top 10 nationally with 10.5 turnovers per game. Expect the Bears to take care of the ball and show UALR at least some of two things the Trojans have struggled with: full-court pressure and zone defense. The Bears also showed Oklahoma State some double teams on ball screens but the Cowboys were able to turn those into drives to the basket, an essential tactic.

3. Toe the line. Missouri State ranks 11th in the nation in field goal percentage defense. Missouri State has held all of its opponents to less than 42 percent shooting this year and UALR hasn’t won when shooting worse than 44 percent. The Trojans need to score in other ways. It’s obvious it isn’t going to consistently come from the three-point line. It needs to come from the free-throw line. UALR is a good shooting team there and need to exploit the lack of depth the Bears are carrying.

Vegas Says:
Missouri State by 7.5 points. UALR has yet to be favored in a game this season. The Trojans are 0-5 as the Vegas underdog.

  • CBS Sports line (6-2): Missouri State 74, UALR 63
  • Jeff Sagarin (5-3): Missouri State 84, UALR 68
  • The Sports Network (5-3): Missouri State 67, UALR 60
  • Real Time RPI (4-4): Missouri State 85, UALR 53
  • Combo: Missouri State 81, UALR 62 (so far)
Predictions were not done for Philander Smith game