The past two games have illustrated something about this UALR basketball team that is both a strength and somewhat of a problem.
There is not enough minutes to go around as UALR wraps up play in the BVI Tropical Shootout in the championship game at 7 p.m. CST tonight against Southern Miss at Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
The biggest logjam comes in at the 2 guard position with junior Ben Dillard and sophomores Josh Hagins and Kemy Osse splitting the time there. The way it has worked out lately has been Hagins getting the bulk of the minutes. Spelling him are Dillard and Osse. Whoever plays better in the first half, gets the minutes in the second half.
Last night it was Dillard coming in off the bench to score eight consecutive points in a first-half run, including two three-pointers. But Dillard only got 13 minutes of action because he was in serious foul trouble most of the game. That opened the door for Osse, who hit a couple of big shots. In reality, it worked to perfection. Hagins finished with 16, Dillard 18 and Osse 5. And UALR won.
Last Friday against Memphis, Osse had the better of the play in the first half. And Dillard didn’t even get on the court in the second half. Unfortunately there’s going to be nights like that when minutes don’t add up for everyone. But it’s a nice problem to have when you have two pretty good options to replace the starter when needed.
Southern Miss Coach Donnie Tyndall, who we know from his days as a Kermit Davis assistant at Middle Tennessee, must be a brave man. Playing against Coppin State last night in the British Virgin Islands, Tyndall only got British Virgin Islander Norville “Banana” Carey eight minutes of action in front of his hometown fans. Carey finished with 7 points but saw the fewest minutes of any Golden Eagle player.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Come to paint: UALR utilized its inside size advantage to perfection against Jacksonville State. The only problem was that Will Neighbour and James White shot poor percentages from the field. Those two have to score tonight.
Free your mind: Not sure what it is about the rims at the Multi-Purpose Building in Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, but free throws weren’t going in last night. UALR was 4-9 in the first half and finished 15-24. Southern Miss was just 12-30 in its victory over Coppin State.
Ready to go: Not sure what type of crowd showed up for the games last night, but there’s no doubt the British Virgin Islanders will be rooting for Southern Miss and Norville Carey. UALR needs to get off to another good start tonight to neutralize some of that energy.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
Southern Miss is a 9.5-point favorite in Las Vegas.