UALR has played some tough road games so far this season. But none matched the crowd support Memphis had for Friday’s game at FedEx Forum.
UALR led for much of the game before succumbing to a late Memphis rally before 15,821. UALR had played before 8,843 at Florida (it looked like 1/3 that actually there), 4,102 at Middle Tennessee (see Florida), 1,381 at Southern (see Florida), 10,921 at Oklahoma (see Florida), and 3,780 at Tulsa.
“Obviously, it is a very tough place to play,” UALR Coach Steve Shields said. “We’ve played six of our first nine games on the road and five teams that made the [NCAA] Tournament last year. That will help us down the road, but it is a tough task to ask of these guys.”
It was UALR that took it to Memphis early.
“Arkansas-Little Rock kicked our butt for most of the game, so you have to give them credit,” Memphis Coach Josh Pastner said. “Fortunately, we found a way to win the game.”
UALR held Memphis to 39 percent for the game but the Tigers shot 52 percent in the second half. Memphis also had a 28-8 advantage in points off turnovers. One extreme positive was fast-break points, which has been a tough stat for the Trojans early this season. UALR won 8-6 there.
“I thought overall our guys gave great effort, and they played extremely hard,” Shields said. “I thought they played well together, especially with the ball movement on the court.”
Memphis improved to 5-0 all-time vs. UALR with the victory on Friday. But UALR has had good showings in each of the past three meetings. In 2008, UALR was in that game before falling late 59-51 at FedEx Forum. In 2009, Memphis used a scoring spurt to pull away from UALR 83-71 at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock. And Friday’s game was close for 35 minutes.
Tremendous bounceback game for sophomore guard Josh Hagins. He finished with 17 points, making 3 of 6 three-pointers.
STAT OF THE GAME
Memphis was 3 of 6 from the free throw line in the first half and 17 of 21 in the second half. That’s tough to overcome.
GLASS HALF FULL
UALR senior Will Neighbour was a focus of Memphis’ defense on Friday. He still finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocked shots and 2 steals.
GLASS HALF EMTPY
UALR had 17 turnovers on Friday, nine of which came from 2 Guards Josh Hagins (5), Kemy Osse (3) and Ben Dillard (1).
KEYS TO VICTORY
A Fine Line: UALR was 14 of 21 at the free throw line, while Memphis was 20 of 27. Memphis went to the free throw line 21 times in the second half alone. Grade: D.
Two Strong: Sophomore Josh Hagins had 17 points, sophomore Kemy Osse added 8 and junior Ben Dillard 1. Twenty-six points from those three was what UALR needed. They would have aced this if not for their nine turnovers. Grade: B-.
Turning Point: UALR had 17 turnovers to Memphis’ 14 but Memphis held a 28-8 advantage in points off turnovers. Grade: D-.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
UALR was a 22-point underdog, making the Trojans a Vegas winner for the first time this season.
UALR takes on Jacksonville State on Friday in the British Virgin Islands. The Gamecocks are 4-7 on the season, going into Saturday’s game with Dartmouth. They also play again on Tuesday before leaving.