It will be really easy to rate UALR’s nonconference season.
It goes like this as the Trojans prepare to take on Jacksonville State at 5 p.m. tonight at Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. UALR will play that game tonight as part of the BV I Tropical Shootout. They’ll also play on Saturday against either Southern Miss or Coppin State.
Win two games and UALR has a chance at a .500 nonconference season against an extremely difficult schedule. That would no doubt be considered a tremendous success.
Split the trip and finish at least one game below.500 for nonconference play. That wouldn’t be considered a disaster but would definitely be a disappointment.
Lose both games and the sky starts falling. That would make for a disastrous nonconference season.
Winning both games won’t be easy. UALR (3-6) is a four-point favorite tonight against Jacksonville State (5-8). But Jacksonville State no doubt believes they’re winning tonight and they’ll have some confidence. Just before leaving for BVI, Jacksonville State played its best game of the season in an 82-73 victory over Central Michigan.
No excuses. That’s the message UALR Coach Steve Shields sent his team after travel delays turned a 12-hour trip into a 34-hour excursion. UALR arrived in BVI after dark on Thursday night and was able to practice Friday morning in Tortola. Meanwhile, Jacksonville State players were Tweeting photos of the beautiful landscapes BVI has to offer as early as Thursday morning.
We know junior J.T. Thomas made the trip to Tortola. We don’t know his injury status for this weekend’s games. We’re not sure about the status of Jacksonville State’s D.J. Felder. He started the first 12 games of the season and then didn’t play on Tuesday vs. Central Michigan. But we can’t find any reference to him getting hurt. He is listed as a starter in Jacksonville State’s game notes but they also say that is “the Gamecocks’ last time out.” And he didn’t play last time out. Stay tuned.
Jacksonville State is coached by former Southern Miss Coach James Green.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Don’t Pass Glass: In Jacksonville State’s five victories this season, the Gamecocks have a +7.2 rebounding margin. In their eight losses, they have a -5.7 rebounding margin. Control the glass and have a chance to win.
Punch the Clock: UALR has had virtually no time to explore the British Virgin Islands at this point. They need to be locked in tonight from the start. Jacksonville State will be confident after their victory earlier this week and will try to bury the Trojans early.
Confidence in Twos: UALR needs another solid effort from its 2 guards tonight, starting with sophomore Josh Hagins. When Hagins plays well, UALR plays well. And the Trojans need him tonight.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
UALR started as a three-point favorite. The line has since moved to four points. It’s the first time this season UALR has been favored on a Las Vegas line.