UALR sophomore Josh Hagins seemed to be struggling a bit with his mojo.
After hitting the game-winning buzzer beater vs. Texas-Arlington on Jan. 4, Hagins celebrated on court and apparently used some inappropriate language. While he’s not the first to do so (and we've never seen anyone else suspended for these types of actions), he was suspended for the Jan. 9 game against South Alabama by UALR’s administration (with an assist from the Sun Belt Conference).
When Hagins returned on Jan. 11 against Troy, he didn’t seem to have the same swagger. He made just 3 of 10 shots as the Trojans lost. And that seemed to carry over into Thursday’s game at WKU. Hagins wasn’t having the best of nights until taking the game over in the final minute.
He hit a three-pointer with 22 seconds left to cut the lead to 1. He then hit a jumper to tie the game with 8 seconds left. And he blocked two three-point attempts in the final seconds of regulation.
The confidence really showed in overtime. UALR trailed 79-77 after two free throws by WKU’s George Fant. Hagins came off a screen and popped out to the right wing. With WKU’s Trency Jackson on him, Hagins took four hard dribbles, crossing over left to right on the fourth. He then launched a high-arcing three that swished to give the Trojans an 80-79 lead.
Hagins then helped put the game out of reach with a couple of late free throws.
When Hagins has his mojo, UALR is a better team. And at least for a few minutes, it was back on Thursday night.
Regardless of final outcome, Thursday’s game between UALR and Western Kentucky was about as exciting a game as you could have. Multiple lead changes, teams answering one another with tough shots. Not a ridiculous amount of fouls called. Well done to both UALR and WKU.
The official game stats provided by Western Kentucky are going to need a correction. They show that Josh Hagins was fouled with 1 second left and made the only free throw he attempted, giving UALR the 87-83 lead and eventually the victory. In reality, Kemy Osse was the one at the free throw line. He made the first free throw and missed the second.
That will actually change up some of the final game stats once fixed. Osse will now be credited with 16 points instead of 15. Hagins will go from 15 points to 14. And UALR’s free throws will go from 18 of 22 to 18 of 23. Western Kentucky’s Kevin Kaspar will also need to be credited with a rebound on the missed free throw. That will even up rebounds at 31-31 for the game.
STAT OF THE GAME
UALR shot a blistering 58.2 percent from the field for the game. And it really didn’t have a lull. The Trojans shot 59.1 percent in the first half, 53.8percent in the second half and 71.4 percent in overtime.
Clearly Will Neighbour’s shot has been a little off for the past couple of weeks. He’s still been cranking out double digit scoring games but he hasn’t had the reward for the way he’s played. He got it on Thursday, scoring 32 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. Neighbour made 11 of 14 field goals, 9 of 11 free throws and also had 2 assists, 1 block and 1 steal. He also grabbed his 500th career rebound in the process, making him only the 15th Trojan to accomplish that.
GLASS HALF FULL
The Kemy Osse-Ben Dillard combination has been an interesting one for UALR. It seems whoever is playing best gets the minutes that are available. Frequently this season it’s been Dillard. But Osse had the advantage on Thursday, scoring 16 points and making 6 of 8 field goals.
GLASS HALF EMPTY
UALR still doesn’t defend the three-point line very well. Western Kentucky made 13 of 29 three-pointers (44.8 percent), including 4 of 6 from big man Alex Rostov. Take away Chris Harrison-Docks’ 1 of 7 and WKU was pretty hot from beyond the arc.
KING PRIAM’S KEYS
Set the Alarm: UALR scored eight of the first 10 points and led for the majority of the first half. Grade: A-.
Turning point: UALR had 14 turnovers to WKU’s 13. Grade: C.
Jumping Josh: See above. Grade: A.
WHAT HAPPENED IN VEGAS
At tipoff, the Las Vegas line had slid back to WKU by 7.5 points. A bet on UALR was a winner and 7.5 points is the biggest line UALR has overcome this season.