Something odd seems to happen to the UALR basketball team between Thursday night and Saturday. Champs on Thursday, chumps on Saturday.
UALR will put that to the test again today when the Trojans (10-9, 6-3) travel to Mobile, Ala., to take on South Alabama at 4:05 p.m. at the Mitchell Center.
UALR is 4-0 this season when playing on Thursday night. The Trojans are just 1-5 this season on Saturday, winning only at Texas-Arlington on a last-second buzzer beater.
The past three Saturdays have been disasters for the Trojans.
“Facing quick turnarounds, we didn’t play as well as we’d like in our last three Saturday games,” UALR Coach Steve Shields said. “We have to improve on that, knowing that everyone in our league is in the same situation. We all play Thursday-Saturday games. We played well at UTA in our first Saturday game of conference play but we haven’t played well on a Saturday since. That has to improve.”
UALR beat South Alabama 65-60 on Thursday, Jan. 9. Then the Trojans lost at home to Troy 75-62 on Saturday, Jan. 11.
UALR turned it around the next week, beating Western Kentucky 87-83 on Thursday, Jan. 16. Then the Trojans got destroyed by Georgia State 99-73 on Saturday, Jan. 18.
UALR got back on track again with a 69-64 victory over Texas State on Thursday, Jan. 23. Then UALR got blown up 77-49 at Arkansas State on Saturday, Jan. 25.
And that brings us to tonight’s game at South Alabama. UALR is coming off Thursday’s 80-69 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette. Can the Trojans flip the script tonight against South Alabama?
South Alabama is the most puzzling team in the Sun Belt Conference. The highly-touted Jaguars have fallen to 1-6 in Sun Belt play. They have a talented roster that includes likely All-Sun Belt first teamer Augustine Rubit. Their losses haven’t, for the most part, been blowouts. The lost by 2 to Western Kentucky 10 to Georgia State, 5 to UALR, 12 to Arkansas State, 6 to Louisiana-Monroe and 8 to Texas-Arlington. With their backs against the wall, expect them to put together their best effort of the season tonight.
UALR reached the halfway point of the Sun Belt Conference season at 6-3 while playing five of the nine games on the road. UALR’s four road games in the second half of the season are South Alabama, Troy, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe. We love Omni Rankings (www.omnirankings.com) but it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. It has UALR losing all nine games.
James White tells us he’ll be back next week. Therefore we don’t expect him to play tonight.
KING PRIAM’S KEYS
JAGS SUB 50: Shooting 50 percent from the field is a pretty high mark to set. But when South Alabama shoots below 50 percent from the field they are 4-12 on the season. That includes 0-5 in Sun Belt play.
THREES BELOW 35: UALR has now held an opponent below 35 percent from the three-point line in three consecutive games. The Trojans can’t afford a slip up tonight.
15 TIMES AT THE LINE: South Alabama is 2-8 this season when its opponent makes 15 free throws.
FREE JOSH: The breakout game for Josh Hagins is coming.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS?
Still waiting on a credible line. Expect South Alabama to be favored by 5-6 points.