We continue to see growth from this UALR basketball team. The next couple of games will really test just how far they have come.
UALR rolled to an 88-74 victory over Arkansas-Fort Smith on Tuesday. You might not think a 14-point victory over a NCAA Division II opponent is rolling, but it really was. UALR never trailed and held a 25-point lead with 5:30 left.
“I thought we did a good job from an energy standpoint from the start,” UALR Coach Steve Shields said. “I think our guys respected who UA-Fort Smith is.”
If you do the research, you’ll find that UAFS has a chance to be a very good team in Division II this year. They stayed tight at TCU earlier this year and are currently ranked No. 18 in D2.
Up next is a trip to Tulsa on Saturday afternoon (weather permitting). Tulsa has just one victory this season but they’ve played a schedule that is tougher than UALR’s tough schedule. Then UALR gets Memphis before going to the tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“I think we’ve made progress each and every game,” Shields said. “We’re continuing to get better offensively.”
It was another mostly solid effort for sophomore guard Josh Hagins on Tuesday. He finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and just 1 turnover. Hagins made 3 of 5 three-pointers.
UALR was once again without junior J.T. Thomas and freshman Andrew Poulter. Thomas is getting closer to returning but it doesn’t appear likely he’ll play on Saturday at Tulsa. Poulter continues to rehab and has started running. They hope he’ll return in time for Sun Belt play in January.
UALR junior point guard DeVonte Smith had 9 assists and 0 turnovers in 30 minutes.
“He brought good energy and is continuing to get better on the defensive end,” Shields said.
STAT OF THE GAME
All 11 UALR players saw at least 10 minutes of action, attempted at least three field goals and scored at least 1 point.
GLASS HALF FULL
Sophomore forward James White had a double-double on Tuesday with 11 points and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes. He also had 2 blocks and 2 steals.
“He’s a guy who can average between 7 and 9 rebounds a game,” Shields said. “He was very active on the glass on both ends tonight.”
GLASS HALF EMPTY
Senior forward Will Neighbour was mostly unstoppable (20 points in 26 minutes) except in one area. He had 5 turnovers and now has a team high 22 for the season.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Come to Paint: UALR held a 28-14 advantage in points in the paint but both teams made 17 of 24 free throws. Grade: B-.
Cut Them Loose: UALR jumped out to an 11-1 lead. Even though UAFS cut the lead to 2 midway through the first half, UALR stepped on the gas and led by double digits the rest of the way. Grade: A-
Boarding School: UALR held a 45-29 advantage in rebounds, including 17-7 in offensive rebounds. Grade: A.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
There was no line on the game
UALR travels to Tulsa (1-6) on Saturday afternoon. Tulsa’s victory came against Indiana State and there losses, mostly close, have been to Oral Roberts, Missouri State, Wichita State, Creighton, TCU and Wisconsin-Green Bay. They play Texas Southern tonight.