BTH Analysis: UALR goes small to beat Long-less ULL

UALR made its run to secure victory against Louisiana-Lafayette on Thursday night by switching to a four-guard lineup late in the game.

The move, which likely wouldn't have been possible if ULL's Shawn Long had played, and probably wouldn't have been necessary if UALR's James White had played, helped turn a three-point deficit into an 80-69 victory.

"Long is a guy you have to double as your digging down or trap with your other post. We weren't in a situation where we had to do that," UALR Coach Steve Shields said.

UALR struggled to keep a second forward on the court much of the night, with Gus Leeper, Mareik Isom and Maurius Hill all struggling with foul trouble. Trailing 56-53 at the 11:59 media timeout, UALR made a change. Guard Kemy Osse checked in for Isom, effectively moving guard Leroy Isler to a forward spot.

At that point, UALR's lineup was DeVonte Smith, Ben Dillard, Isler, Osse and Will Neighbour. Later, guard Stetson Billings took over that forward spot from Isler. And Josh Hagins replaced Smith, but the Trojans stayed with four guards.

UALR won three of the four factors to winning, taking effective field goal percentage, offensive rebound percentage and free throw rate. UALR lost turnover percentage but only by one turnover.

The night's best plus/minus went to Osse at +16 with UALR outscoring ULL 30-14 during his minutes. Hagins (+14), Billings (+11) and Neighbour (+10) also finished in double digits.

A couple of other notes.

Neighbour has been on the court for 82 percent of the points scored by UALR this season. He was on the court for 75 of the 80 last night for 94 percent.

Billings has the best total plus/minus rating for UALR in Sun Belt Conference games at +14. He's way ahead of everyone else in plus/minus per minutes played. Others on the plus side for conference games include Hagins, Isom and Osse. No surprise that all four of those guys had big games last night.