6 p.m. Saturday
UALR and Florida International played two very different types of games in their two meetings this season. After splitting those games, UALR meets FIU at 6 p.m. on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Tournament at Hot Springs Convention Center.
UALR ran to an 88-76 victory on Jan. 12 at the Jack Stephens Center. Then FIU took control of a defensive struggle on Feb. 21 in Miami, winning 65-52.
The first game was much more run and gun. FIU pressed UALR throughout and the Trojans, despite 21 turnovers, turned those situations into easy baskets. FIU was solid in the half-court defense in the second game, forcing UALR into 22 turnovers – many of them in the offensive set – as they pulled away for the victory.
What can we expect on Saturday night?
There could be a lot of turnovers. And by a lot, we mean A LOT. UALR turned the ball over 43 times in the two games while FIU turned it over 46 times.
Both teams pulled down 60 rebounds in the two games. But UALR was better at getting offensive rebounds. The Trojans got back 35 percent of their missed shots compared to FIU getting back 31 percent of their misses.
UALR shot 48 percent from the field, but only 22 percent from three-point range against FIU this season. The Trojans made 62 percent of their shots inside the three-point line.
FIU was better from the outside. The Golden Panthers shot a very good 44 percent from the field and added 40 percent from three-point range and 88 percent from the free throw line.
UALR utilized its superior size inside. Michael Javes’ numbers against FIU were better than any Sun Belt team the Trojans faced this season. In the two games, Javes had 27 points and 9 rebounds and made 10 of 14 field goals. And when FIU fouled him, Javes made 7 of 9 free throws.
Will Neighbour had 24 points and 14 rebounds, making 11 of 18 field goals. And James White had 21 points and 6 rebounds. He made 8 of 12 field goals but only 5 of 11 free throws.
John Gillon only played in the second game against FIU and finished with 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting and 5 assists.
First team all-Sun Belt Conference player Tymell Murphy scored 25 points in the two games. But FIU’s scoring was pretty balanced. Cameron Bell had 30 points, Jerome Frink 23 and Deric Hill 23. UALR did a very good job on Malik Smith, who scored 16 points, making only 4 of 17 field goals and 3 of 11 three-pointers.
Bell played very well against UALR with his 30 points and 11 rebounds. He made 14 of 15 free throws and added 5 steals.
FIU doesn’t have much height but is able to utilize 7-footer Ivan Jurkovic. He played only 3 minutes the first game and was a non-factor. He only scored two points in the second game but seemed like a bigger factor that night. His playing time is very sporadic. He started two games ago at Louisiana-Monroe but played only 7 minutes. Last game, he didn’t even get in against Florida Atlantic.