That will be a key factor as the Trojans (10-8) host Florida International (8-7) at 3:30 p.m. today at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
We saw much improved rebounding from Will Neighbour in Thursday’s victory over North Texas. But the Trojans are still having trouble finding the secondary rebounder they need. The most likely candidates – Leroy Isler and James White – started out with strong rebounding numbers but have faded over the past month.
Isler, who averages 3.9 rebounds per game, had 7 vs. Ole Miss, 5 vs. Milwaukee, 10 vs. Jacksonville, 7 vs. SMU and 9 in the first meeting with Troy on Nov. 29. But since that game, he hasn’t had more than 4. Last night, he had 1 vs. North Texas.
James White, who averages 4.4 rebounds, had 6, 6, 7, 6, 8 and 6 rebounds in his first six games. But since then, he’s had more than 5 rebounds only once in a game – and it came with 6 against St. Gregory’s. He had four rebounds last night.
Rebounding is about “want to” and “desire” and last night Neighbour had that look from the opening tip. The result was 11 rebounds. UALR needs to see that look in some others on Saturday.
Today’s game is on the Sun Belt Network but unless you have Comcast Cable you should make plans to attend. Comcast Sports Southeast is only available to Comcast customers.
Florida International has been a surprise early in the Sun Belt season. The Golden Panthers won their fourth consecutive game with a win at Arkansas State on Thursday. They’re above .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2000. The biggest change from the outside looking in appears to be that the sideshow that accompanied former Coach Isaiah Thomas is now gone.
BTH KEYS TO VICTORY
Free time: For whatever reason, UALR isn’t getting to the free throw line and isn’t making them when they get there. That’s been the story the past two games. UALR went a combined 10 of 24 from the free throw line vs. Troy and North Texas. UALR needs to get to the line today and make them when they get there.
Second chance: Florida International is undersized and statistics show they don’t rebound all that well. UALR has to win rebounds tonight. Arkansas State stayed in their game with FIU by getting 19 offensive rebounds to FIU’s 4. Block outs are a must today.
Magic number: The magic number is 66. When UALR holds its opponents to 66 points or fewer, UALR is 8-0 on the season.
The line's been sliding around for the past day. At last look UALR was a five-point favorite. It's been slightly more than that and less than that in the past day.
Interesting to note that Real Time RPI picks UALR by 15 and Jeff Sagarin has UALR by only 1. That’s quite a difference.
OmniRankings (8-1): UALR 72, FIU 66
Real Time RPI (14-3): UALR 77, FIU 62
Jeff Sagarin (13-4): UALR 73, FIU 72
The Sports Network (12-4): UALR 68, FIU 65
CBS Sportsline (10-7): UALR 70, FIU 68
BTH Average (12-5): UALR 72.0, FIU 66.6