BTH Gameday: UALR looks for way to exploit size vs. ULM

Louisiana-Monroe presents some interesting choices for UALR defensively. ULM is playing primarily a small lineup as it heads in to tonight’s 7:30 game with UALR at Fant-Ewing Coliseum in Monroe, La.

You would think UALR junior Leroy Isler would guard ULM’s leading scorer Amos Olatayo, who averages 15.9 points but didn’t play in the first meeting between the two teams. Will Neighbour and James White guarded ULM’s Jayon James in the first meeting. Much of ULM’s offense runs through James as he averages 10.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists.

Josh Hagins and John Gillon will likely matchup with ULM point guard R.J. McCray. UALR’s Ben Dillard likely matches up with ULM’s Marcelis Hansberry.

This is where it gets interesting. That leaves UALR’s 6-10 forward Michael Javes (or 6-10 backup Gus Leeper) to guard ULM’s Trent Mackey, who is 6-4 and averages 10.8 points per game.

If Javes and Leeper can’t track Mackey, UALR could go to a slightly smaller lineup with Neighbour and White in. Without the flexibility of Taggart Lockhart available, UALR’s options are a bit limited if it chooses to go small.

And UALR has had some issues with some teams that have had smaller front lines, most notably Troy.

ULM played primarily a zone defense in the first meeting with UALR, negating some of these individual matchups. It becomes less of an issue when ULM goes to its bench where two of its three primary reserves are 6-7 players.


UALR is 5-4 all-time at Fant-Ewing Coliseum in Monroe, La. Two of those four losses came before Louisiana-Monroe joined the Sun Belt. UALR lost late in 2003 by 14 points at Monroe and then played the Warhawks (or maybe Indians at that point) two weeks later at Alltel Arena and won by 26 points. UALR also lost in a controversial overtime game at Fant-Ewing in 2006. The last two trips to Monroe have gone well. UALR won 61-53 in 2011 and 72-51 last year.


UALR has won consecutive road games and is going for three in a row tonight. UALR last won three straight road games in the 2008-2009 season when they won eight consecutive in Sun Belt play. After losing the opener at WKU, UALR beat New Orleans, Louisiana-Lafayette, South Alabama, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe and North Texas.


Ground and pound: UALR has an extreme size advantage no matter what lineup ULM chooses to go with tonight. UALR needs to utilize that advantage to draw fouls and get easy buckets.
Twilight Zone: Expect Louisiana-Monroe to play a lot of zone tonight. UALR needs to get the ball to the high post and work from there. Passing around the perimeter, jacking up threes all night won’t cut it.
White Knight: With Taggart Lockhart expected to be out tonight, there are some minutes at the three spot to be had. James White played those minutes early in the season. He’s also a zone buster when he remains active.


UALR opened as a four-point favorite over Louisiana-Monroe.


It's almost scary to think about everyone going with UALR on the road. But frankly, this is a game UALR needs/has to win:
OmniRankings (11-4): UALR 66, ULM 65
Real Time RPI (17-6): UALR 69, ULM 63
Jeff Sagarin (15-7): UALR 70, ULM 63
The Sports Network (15-7): UALR 70, ULM 65
CBS Sportsline (14-8): UALR 72, ULM 63
BTH Average (14-8):  UALR 69.4, ULM 63.8