BTH Gameday: UALR searches for toughness after week to prepare for Tulsa

What’s the big deal about practice?

“I mean, listen, we'retalking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talkingabout practice. Not a game. Not, not . Not the game that I go out thereand die for and play every game like it's my last. Not the game, butwe're talking about practice, man. I mean, how silly is that?” -- Allen Iverson

Said no coach ever.

Tulsa (6-3) at UALR (7-4)

2 p.m. today
Jack Stephens Center
And believe me, UALR Coach Steve Shields has had this past week circledon the calendar ever since the Nov. 9 season opener against Tennessee-Martin.It’s pretty simple. It’s all about practice.
UALR (7-4) will have a chance to display what it worked on in practicethis week at 2 p.m. today against Tulsa (6-3) at the Jack Stephens Center inLittle Rock.
UALR completed a stretch of 11 games in 28 days about 10 days ago witha blowout loss to Cincinnati. So you’re thinking they had 17 days in there toget plenty of practice in, right? Factor in four NCAA mandated off days, atravel day to and a travel day from Mexico, nine pregame days (some of whichincluded travel), and some other down time Shields gave the players to try andkeep them fresh for games. All of that adds up with very little time to work onfundamentals, defense and rebounding.
That wasn’t the case this week. After the Cincinnati game, UALRtraveled back to Little Rock the next day. Shields then gave the players two days off. Then they went to work onMonday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with, if Twitter is any indication,tough, intense practices.
We’ll find out if that paid off starting today.

Burning sensation

Welcome back Gus Leeper. No idea how much he’ll play today, but we’reanticipating the return of the sophomore forward to the lineup. Leeper missedall of last season with an injury and played only 10 minutes in the seasonopener and hasn’t played since. It gives UALR the potential to put even moresize on the court.


Turning point:  When you’re coming off a game in which youturned the ball over 32 times, it’s a no-brainer to list turnovers as a key.But even with that game, UALR averages less turnovers per game than Tulsa thisseason. The winner of the turnover battle has a big advantage.
Set the alarm: With theexception of the St. Gregory’s game, UALR hasn’t looked good early in games.They were able to resurrect themselves for victories against Troy and ULM butcan’t continue to go that route this season. UALR needs a big first 10 minutes.
Run and gun: When we watchedthe Tulsa-TCU game last Saturday, one thing kept jumping off the screen for us.TCU was struggling to score in its offense, but was able to get a lot of easylooks by beating Tulsa down the court. This wasn’t just after turnovers, it wasafter rebounds as well. UALR needs to get some easy looks to be successful.


UALR is a 2.5-point favorite. You can read that to mean they believe Tulsa is better but UALR has the home-court advantage. UALR is a favorite for just the fourth time this season. The Trojans are 3-0 in those games.


All of our predictors go for UALR this afternoon:
OMNI RANKINGS (2-0): UALR67, Tulsa 63
REAL TIME RPI (9-1): UALR76, Tulsa 66
THE SPORTS NETWORK (8-1): UALR 63, Tulsa 59
JEFF SAGARIN (8-2):  UALR 74, Tulsa 71
CBS SPORTSLINE (8-2): UALR 70, Tulsa 62
BTH AVERAGE (8-2): UALR 70.0, Tulsa 64.2

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