Was UALR’s 72-70 loss to North Florida an acceptable loss or a bad loss? Only time will tell.
If North Florida proves to be a contender in the Atlantic Sun, that might not be such a bad loss. If they go mid pack in the A-Sun, that’s an awful loss.
The biggest reason why it's likely a bad loss is the UALR schedule. UALR now goes to Florida (ranked in top 10), to Middle Tennessee (riding a long home winning streak) and to Southern (which nearly ended Middle Tennessee's winning streak on Sunday). Getting a victory before Thanksgiving will be difficult.
Right now, we’ll file it under bad loss. At home, you have to win that game.
There have been questions over the past week about just who would even be healthy enough to suit up for UALR. As it turned out, only two players weren’t available last night.
It started the weekend before Meet The Trojans when junior guard Ben Dillard went down with a back injury. Last Monday, sophomore guard Josh Hagins went down with an ankle injury. It caused him to miss MTT activities that night.
Junior point guard J.T. Thomas then had to miss three days of practice after an irregular heartbeat. And it was feared freshman Mareik Isom broke his hand midweek. It turned out to be just a bruise.
It culminated when senior forward Will Neighbour went down with a shoulder injury in practice on Saturday. He did not practice on Sunday and as of Monday morning it appeared he would not be available for the game. Neighbour wore a t-shirt under his jersey on Monday, appearing to mask a shoulder brace. He ended up playing 30 minutes.
NUMBERS NEVER LIE
41-29 UALR was outrebounded by 12 on Monday. No one had more than junior Gus Leeper’s five. And it was actually worse. UALR got two of its nine offensive rebounds in the final 3 seconds of the game.
SET THE ALARM UALR got off to a great start, leading the majority of the first half and 41-37 at halftime. Grade A.
LET FREE-DOM RING UALR made an outstanding 18 of 21 free throws on Monday. North Florida was pretty good as well, making 14 of 17. Grade: B
NO FREE THREE UALR’s Leroy Isler and Stetson Billings turned North Florida sharpshooter Beau Beech into a spectator most of Monday’s game. Beech had as many fouls as shot attempts. But the intense pressure applied to Beech left UALR vulnerable to others. Dallas Moore made 3 of 7 treys while Demarcus Daniels made 4 of 7. It allowed North Florida to stay close and eventually win. Grade: C.
GLASS HALF EMPTY
Senior Leroy Isler and sophomore James White played a combined 28 minutes on Monday. Both were in serious foul trouble throughout. And it led to UALR’s interior depth being exposed.
GLASS HALF FULL
Welcome back junior Gus Leeper. He was solid with 10 points, 5 rebounds and a blocked shot in 19 minutes.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
Las Vegas never set a line on the game.
We had predictions from three of the five predictors and all went with UALR.
It gets no easier. UALR travels to top 10 Florida on Saturday. Making matters worse, Florida figures to be closer to full strength by that game.