It’s really simple for UALR. Win tonight and still have a chance at a No. 2 seed in next month’s Sun Belt Tournament in Hot Springs. Lose tonight and likely be either the fourth or fifth seed.
UALR takes on Florida International at 6:30 p.m. Central tonight in a preview of what could be a first-round tournament matchup in a couple of weeks.
UALR trails Arkansas State by 1 ½ games in the West Division standings. The Trojans best hope of getting the No. 2 seed would be to sweep their final four games and get some help next week when ASU visits North Texas.
But that ASU-UNT game won’t matter if UALR doesn’t win tonight. The Trojans defeated Florida International pretty handily in the first meeting between the teams. It’s unlikely tonight’s game will go as smoothly.
UALR has won three of its past four road games but was destroyed by Arkansas State in Jonesboro last Thursday.
No word from UALR on the status of sophomore guard Taggart Lockhart, who had a second concussion last Thursday in Jonesboro.
BTH KEYS TO VICTORY
Turning point: Florida International ranks eighth nationally in turnover percentage forced. The Golden Panthers will press throughout the game. They’ll also employ the run-and-jump. UALR handled it in Little Rock, taking advantage of it to score easy baskets. The Trojans will have to handle it tonight if they have a chance to win. FYI, FIU scores 28 percent of its points off turnovers.
Set the alarm: UALR can’t get behind double digits in the first half.
Javes another: UALR sophomore Michael Javes played his best game of the season vs. FIU. He’s played fairly well of late as well. Javes needs to dominate the inside tonight.
Florida International is a 4.5-point favorite in Las Vegas.
Omni Rankings (14-4): FIU 74, UALR 68
Real Time RPI (20-6): FIU 75, UALR 63
Jeff Sagarin (18-7): FIU 73, UALR 70
The Sports Network (18-7): FIU 70, UALR 68
CBS Sportsline (16-9): FIU 74, UALR 68
BTH Average (17-8): FIU 73.2, UALR 67.4