With the exception of one slip up on opening night, UALR did what it was supposed to do in the nonconference portion of its schedule. That concluded on Monday with an 88-68 victory over Grambling State at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
When we lined out the nonconference portion of the schedule, 6-6 seemed like a pretty good bet. And UALR would have gotten there if not for a loss to North Florida in the opening game of the season.
Otherwise, the Trojans pretty much did what they were supposed to do. They beat Southern, Southern Arkansas, Arkansas-Fort Smith, Jacksonville State and Grambling. And they lost to Florida, Middle Tennessee, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Memphis and Southern Miss.
If you excuse the opening-night hiccup, we really haven’t learned much about this UALR team. That leaves a lot of question marks going into Thursday’s Sun Belt Conference opener against Texas State. Opponents will now become much more like UALR is. And we’ll really start to find out whether this Trojan team can live up to expectations.
We talked with UALR Coach Steve Shields about freshman post Andrew Poulter’s possible debut against Grambling on Monday. Not wanting to assume anything, he wasn’t willing to say Poulter, who was recently cleared but is not yet in game shape, would play. But with a big second-half lead, he played the final four minutes. He finished with 4 points and a foul.
For the second-consecutive game, UALR sophomore James White was nearly unstoppable. He finished with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. But he got those numbers by going 7 for 7 from the field and 2 of 2 at the free throw line.
INJURY UPDATEAfter the game, Coach Steve Shields said junior point guard J.T. Thomas was headed back to the doctor for a MRI early next week.
STAT OF THE GAME
UALR made 14 of 20 field-goal attempts for 70 percent in the first half.
GLASS HALF FULL
Junior Ben Dillard got his first start of the season and finished with 13 points and 2 assists.
GLASS HALF EMPTY
UALR committed 16 turnovers, including 4 by senior Will Neighbour and 4 by sophomore Kemy Osse.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Get out of the gate: After a mildly slow start, UALR pulled out to a 39-23 halftime lead. Grade: B.
Build confidence: Every Trojan who played scored and everyone except freshman Andrew Pulter played at least 9 minutes. Grade: A.
Pedal to the metal: UALR continued to step on the gas early in the second half, stretching the lead to as many as 32 points with 12:57 left. Grambling reduced that amount during Garbage time but the game was well out of hand. Grade: A.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
No line was ever set.
UALR goes to San Marcos, Texas, to take on Texas State on Thursday in the Sun Belt Conference opener. Texas State dropped to 4-9 on the season with a 73-64 home loss to Long Island University last night. The Bobcats are coached by Danny Kaspar in his first season there. He was the longtime coach at Stephen F. Austin.