Now things really start to get interesting for this UALR basketball team.
|Tulsa vs. UALR|
7 pm tonight
At 7 p.m. tonight, UALR (3-4) takes on Tulsa (2-6) at the Reynolds Center in Tulsa. UALR is a heavy underdog but desperately needs a victory to balance out its nonconference schedule.
Back before the season started, we said UALR needed to win one of the three games against Middle Tennessee, Southern and Tulsa. UALR accomplished that with an overtime victory at Southern.
But UALR is still a game short because of the unexpected home loss to North Florida in the season opener. That makes a victory tonight imperative.
UALR still has five nonconference games left. They’ll likely be favored against Jacksonville State on Dec. 20 and Grambling on Dec. 30. They’ll be big underdogs tonight vs. Tulsa and Friday vs. Memphis. The other game depends on UALR’s first game in the U.S. Virgin Islands vs. Jacksonville State. If UALR loses, they’ll likely play Coppin State. If UALR wins, they’ll likely be a big underdog to Southern Miss in the second game.
If UALR beats Jacksonville State and Grambling and loses to Memphis, that would get the Trojans to a 5-5 record. A split in the U.S. Virgin Islands would make 6-6. That makes tonight’s game at Tulsa the game that likely decides the over/under .500 fate of the Trojans.
It won’t be easy. Tulsa has played a very difficult schedule and lost some close games to good teams. The Golden Hurricane is definitely looking at this game as one they will win at home.
UALR has definitely arrived in Tulsa. It’s been quite a week for the Trojans, who were unable to leave on Friday for the originally scheduled date of Saturday. They were then unable to leave Saturday for a rescheduled date of Sunday. Finally, they were able to make the trip on Monday afternoon.
NO TIME FOR REST
UALR tried to get Tulsa to play today’s game at 3 p.m. but the Golden Hurricane weren’t able to do it. UALR wanted to play earlier because some players have 8 a.m. final exams Wednesday morning. That means if UALR is able to depart Tulsa by 10 p.m. tonight, they’ll arrive sometime after 2 a.m. (if traffic is moving).
YOUTH MOVEMEN T
Tulsa still has one of the nation’s youngest rosters. As of late, they’ve been starting four sophomores and a senior, and bringing three sophomores, a junior, a senior and a freshman off the bench.
Nothing official from UALR but we believe the Trojans will continue to be without junior J.T. Thomas and freshman Andrew Poulter tonight.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Free your mind: UALR has been a very good free throw shooting team at 74 percent. Tulsa shoots 63 percent. But the Golden Hurricane shoot 73 percent on the road and 51 percent at home. Tulsa opponents have gone to the free throw line 41 more times than the Hurricane has this season. UALR has to win the free throw battle to have success.
Handle the pressure: Tulsa doesn’t press all the time. But the Golden Hurricane will jump into it. UALR has to be ready and handle it. Even better, UALR has to make Tulsa pay for that pressure with transition looks.
Clear Glass: UALR has improved dramatically in rebounding throughout this season. Tulsa is getting outrebounded by its opponents by 3.2 per game. UALR can’t get dominated on the glass and expect to be successful tonight.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
Seems a little high but Tulsa is a 10-point favorite tonight. Then again, UALR is 3-3 all-time vs. Tulsa but 0-3 at the Reynolds Center. Those three losses have come by an average of 12 points.