UALR played the game’s first eight minutes without a point guard after freshmen point guards John Gillon and Josh Hagins did not start after what was apparently a violation of team rules. In their place, freshman guard Kemy Osse started for the first time in his career. And through the game’s first eight minutes, the Osse-led Trojans led South Alabama 15-13.
But South Alabama scored the game’s next 16 points and never surrendered the lead as the Trojans lost for the first time in Sun Belt Conference play.
The difference? Turnovers and points off turnovers.
UALR had 21 turnovers to South Alabama’s 10. And South Alabama beat UALR 27-7 in points off turnovers.
It nullified what was the best rebounding effort of the season for UALR. The Trojans held a 42-30 advantage, including 19-11 in offensive rebounds.
Gillon still led UALR with 14 points but made just 4 of 11 field goal attempts. Also making 4 of 11 was Will Neighbour, who finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds. Ose added 11 points, 1 assist and no turnovers in his starting debut.
But UALR got nothing out of the post. Michael Javes was held scoreless in 23 minutes. Gus Leeper was a little more productive, with 4 points and 3 rebounds and 1 block in 10 minutes. UALR also failed to get James White involved offensively. He finished with just 4 points and 4 and played only 15 minutes.
South Alabama was playing its first game under interim Coach Jeff Price. The Jaguars were loose from the start with Price taking some of the reins previously held by Coach Ronnie Arrow. He also expanded the rotation, utilizing player Arrow wouldn’t.
After trailing by 12 points early in the second half, a UALR run cut the lead to 52-50 with 9:29 after a three-pointer from Ben Dillard. But Augustine Rubit scored the next four points for South Alabama to pad the lead back to six.
UALR got no closer than four points the rest of the way and the slipped to double digits in the closing minutes.