BURN THE HORSE
UALR widened its lead in the Sun Belt Conference’s West Division with a 78-64 victory over Florida International at the Jack Stephens Center.
In what turned out to be a tough, physical game with several hard fouls, Will Neighbour led UALR with 21 points. Courtney Jackson had 13, D’Andre Williams 11 and Michael Javes 10.
UALR is now 10-3 in Sun Belt play. With three games remaining, UALR is two games ahead of Louisiana-Lafayette, Denver and North Texas. UALR plays its final road game of the season on Saturday at Troy.
On Thursday, Florida International stayed close by making 20 of 24 free throws to offset 30.5 percent shooting from the floor. UALR offset its 52 percent shooting by making just 22 of 36 free throws.
FIU led 32-31 at halftime but the Trojans took the lead for good on an end-to-end play by Javes. He blocked a shot at one end and then scored after a pass from Chuck Guy at the other end for a 35-34 lead with 17:50 left.
UALR led 42-38 when Florida International Coach Isiah Thomas, making his first Stephens Center appearance, got two technical fouls and was ejected. Neighbour made two free throws and Jackson hit a jumper for a 46-38 lead with 12:41 left. A Neighbour three-pointer with 11:04 left gave UALR a 53-40 lead.
The lead ballooned to 58-40 minutes later and took some of the tension out of the Stephens Center, at least from a UALR standpoint.
Former UALR student manager turned walk-on Ted Crass even got a couple of minutes, missing his first college shot – a three-pointer.