|7 PM TONIGHT|
JACK STEPHENS CENTER
Because of the lack of games against like competition, it’s still difficult to gauge where UALR’s season will ultimately end up. But one thing seems apparent: UALR’s offensive statistics are trending upward is it prepares to face Arkansas-Fort Smith at 7 p.m. tonight at the Jack Stephens Center.
Since going 0 for 11 from three-point range in a loss at Middle Tennessee, UALR’s offensive numbers are on the rise.
In the past three games, UALR is shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 43.9 percent from three-point range. UALR is trending down a bit from the free throw line, shooting a still respectable 71.4 percent.
Two other areas of improvement are rebounds and turnovers. UALR is an average of +2.3 in rebounds and +0.3 in assists compared to their opponents. Both numbers are negative in the season total.
Those numbers are magnified by the Trojans’ top scorers: Senior Will Neighbour and sophomore Josh Hagins.
In the past three games, Neighbour is averaging 18.7 points and 8.7 rebounds. He’s shooting 57 percent from the floor, 50 percent from the three-point line and 76 percent from the free throw line.
Hagins is averaging 16.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in his past three games. He’s shooting 57.6 percent from the floor, 58.8 percent from three-point range and 50 percent at the free throw line. Actually, Hagins’ inability to get to the free throw line should be a big concern. He’s only shot two free throws the past three games.
Don’t sleep on UAFS. The Lions will end up being a very good NCAA Division II team this season. UAFS lost 81-74 at TCU in a November 1 exhibition game for both teams. TCU led only 38-36 at halftime and UAFS was still as close as 3 points inside the final minute. UAFS is 6-0 this season, playing a combination of Division II and NAIA opponents.
IN AND OUT
Both UALR and Arkansas-Fort Smith play 11-man rotations. But Fort Smith’s rotation is even looser than UALR’s UALR’s bottom two in terms of minutes are freshman Maurius Hill (5 minutes) and sophomore Stetson Billings (8.7 minutes). UAFS’s bottom two are Mytaa’h Craford (7.4 minutes) and Blake Branham (10.2 minutes). UALR senior Will Neighbour (31.7 minutes) is the only player taking the court tonight averaging more than 28 minutes per game.
UALR sophomore James White returned from injury to play on Friday vs. Oklahoma. That leaves only junior point guard J.T. Thomas still out with a strained groin. His status is not officially known for tonight’s game though we don’t expect him to be available.
KEYS TO VICTORY
1. Come to paint: Win the points in the paint; win the free throw line. Two musts tonight.
2. Cut them loose: Don’t allow UAFS to hang around. The Lions are a confident, talented team that will be tough to put away with the game on the line.
3. Boarding school: Win rebounding. Another must.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
No line on tonight’s game.