UALR needs Neighbour's numbers on the rise again

If UALR is to make a Sun Belt Conference run, it needs more from senior forward Will Neighbour.

Wait, you say. Isn’t Neighbour leading UALR at 16.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game? He is. But as UALR prepares for tonight’s 7 p.m. matchup against Grambling State, Neighbour’s numbers are trending downward in recent games.

They still aren’t bad. In the past four games, Neighbour has two double-doubles. But his scoring average has been five points fewer than it was in the first seven games. He’s still getting basically the same number of attempts as he was early in the season, he’s just not making as many shots.

He shoots 54 percent from the field this season. But he shot 60 percent in the first seven games and 42 percent since. He shoots 45 percent from the three-point line. But he shot 53 percent in the first seven games and 33 percent since.

Why? It's certainly not for a lack of effort. Neighbour plays as hard as anyone night in and night out.

Perhaps it was just the grind of so much travel and so many road games. A little break at Christmas might make a world of difference.

Or it could just be the attention he's getting. There’s no doubt opposing teams are keying heavily on Neighbour, making him work for everything he’s getting. That won’t change. But if that happens, UALR has to have others make opponents pay for overplaying Neighbour. And that hasn’t consistently happened yet.


This is the final nonconference game for UALR, which will open Sun Belt Conference play on Thursday in San Marcos, Texas, against Texas State. With its 4-7 record, UALR’s nonconference season hasn’t been all that different from 2011-20012. UALR was 3-11 in nonconference games that season.  But UALR went on the road and won the first two Sun Belt games (at North Texas and Denver) and ended up winning the West Division with a 12-4 conference record.


Both junior point guard J.T. Thomas and freshman post Andrew Poulter are continuing to get closer to returning to action, but it doesn’t appear either will be ready to go tonight.

Thomas has missed the past seven games after getting injured Nov. 22 against Southern. He is continuing to progress but has not been able to resume full speed basketball drills. Poulter hasn’t played at all this season but was recently cleared to resume basketball activities. He now needs to get into sufficient game shape in order to be available for minutes.

UPDATE (10:56 AM): Thomas is definitely out tonight and likely headed back for MRI. He's apparently no closer to returning at this point.


Get out of the gate: Grambling has already played since Christmas but UALR hasn’t. The Trojans need a fast start tonight.

Build Confidence: UALR needs some productive minutes from the likes of Mareik Isom, Stetson Billings and Maurius Hill tonight.

Pedal to the metal: We’ve seen UALR get off to some good starts. But they’ve been unable to put someone away. We’re looking for UALR to deliver the knockout punch they’ve been missing this season.


No line for tonight’s game. It appears Vegas hasn’t set a line on a Grambling game this season.