The schedule has not done UALR many favors this season. From a lack of home games to challenging road games to a postponement that was rescheduled in the middle of final exams, it’s been difficult.
It continues tonight as UALR (3-5) travels to top 25-ranked Memphis (6-1) at 7 p.m. at the FedEx Forum.
UALR has played only three home games so far this year, two vs. NCAA Division II opponents. And last Saturday’s postponement with Tulsa was moved to Tuesday. That meant UALR had to play on dead day and race back home so players could take final exams at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
They’re missing finals again for today’s game at Memphis. But at least this one was something they could plan for and work out with their professors.
"Playing games like this early in the year forces you to compete with a small margin for error," UALR Coach Steve Shields said. "You have to work hard and you have to play the right way to have success in portions of those games as well as throughout entire games. If you don't, you get exposed. But I think games like that are learning experiences for our team."
The good thing is that after tonight the Trojans will be able to complete final exams before departing British Virgin Islands next Thursday. That will be quite a reward for a challenging schedule.
We’ve been impressed with Memphis so far this season. The first time we saw the Tigers, they were getting absolutely hammered by Oklahoma State on National Television. The next time we saw them, they were winning the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., beating that same Oklahoma State team in a rematch.
We still expect junior point guard J.T. Thomas and freshman post Andrew Poulter to be out tonight for UALR. Memphis Coach Josh Pastner said Chris Crawford, who has an injured ankle, will be a “day of game decision.”
KEYS TO VICTORY
A fine line: UALR has to get to the free throw line tonight. Easier said than done on the road but Memphis will attempt to take away UALR’s three-point shooting (and they have the length to give the Trojans fits).
2 Strong: UALR needs quality minutes and scoring from its 2 guards. We’re looking for a bounce back game from sophomore Josh Hagins.
Turning Point: Limit turnovers and Memphis’ transition points.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
Memphis is a whopping 23-point favorite tonight. UALR hasn’t beat a spread this season.