During Coach Steve Shields’ time here, there have been six occasions in which UALR lost to an opponent by more than 20 points in a first meeting of the season and then played a rematch. UALR is 5-1 in those rematch games.
The seventh opportunity at such a game comes up tonight as UALR hosts Georgia State at 7 p.m. at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock. Georgia State, which leads the Sun Belt with a 9-0 conference mark, defeated UALR 99-73 in Atlanta on Jan. 18.
The most famous of these rematch games came in the 2004-2005 season. Because of a scheduling snafu, UALR had to play Middle Tennessee on a Monday in Murfreesboro and again the same week on Saturday in North Little Rock. UALR was destroyed 85-50 in the game at Murfreesboro. Then UALR beat Western Kentucky on that Thursday and Middle Tennessee 69-62 in the rematch on the Saturday.
The only loss came last season when UALR lost 82-50 at Middle Tennesseee and then lost at home 66-61 in the rematch.
If the season ended today, Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter would be the Sun Belt Conference’s player of the year. The sophomore guard is averaging 20.2 points and 4.3 rebounds. When you watch him play, you have to think former NBA great Reggie Miller. He’ll hit the open three pointer, but he also has a knack of hitting an off balance, awkward looking shot while drawing a foul.
UALR is expected to get sophomore James White back tonight. White has missed the past four games. He had scored double figures in five consecutive games before that, averaging 16 points per game. Actually, his double figure streak would probably be at eight games if he didn’t get hurt. He had six quick points in the first half on Jan. 2 vs. Texas State. Then he got injured and missed the entire second half.
I’m not sure why no one wants you to know this but there are tickets, many tickets available tonight. Go to THIS LINK or stop by the ticket office.
KING PRIAM’S KEYS
GO DEEP: It seems essential that UALR get into the Georgia State bench. The Panthers essentially play six players.
THREES BELOW 35: It has become a staple. Georgia State hit 15 three-pointers in the last meeting, making 44 percent. UALR has to get that percentage down.
DOMINATE THE GLASS: Georgia State’s weakness is rebounding. UALR can’t just win the glass tonight, they have to dominate it at both ends to have a chance. UALR was +8 in the first meeting and that wasn’t even close to enough.
HANDLE THE PRESSURE: While Georgia State isn’t a great rebounding team, they make up for it in forced turnovers. UALR has to handle the pressure, especially early in the game. UALR had 20 turnovers in the first meeting.
FREE JOSH: Josh Hagins had 5 points in 22 minutes in the first meeting with GSU. This is a big game. It’s Josh Hagins’ time to shine.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS?
Georgia State is an early 4 point favorite to beat UALR. UALR won its past two games as an underdog, beating Louisiana-Lafayette and South Alabama last week.