BTH Morning After: Total team effort lifts UALR over South Al

Typically when you hear the words “Team Win” it’s just a cliché. But UALR made that term reality in Saturday’s 62-58 victory over South Alabama.

It’s easy to pick out Will Neighbour’s 23 points and 9 rebounds and Josh Hagins’ 18 points and big shots down the stretch. But there were more subtle contributions from up and down the roster that helped UALR rally and hold on for the victory.

  • Freshman Mareik Isom’s offensive rebound and tip-in with 2:54 left that cut South Alabama’s lead to 54-53.
  • South Alabama’s turnover with 2:37 left was forced by the defensive pressure of UALR senior Leroy Isler.
  • After Hagins’ three-pointer with 1:25 left to give UALR a 56-54 lead, UALR junior Gus Leeper stole the ball from South Alabama’s Mychal Ammons.

There were also some key moments from junior DeVonte Smith, sophomore Stetson Billings and junior Ben Dillard.


UALR now has two Saturday victories this season after beating South Alabama. The Trojans’ only other Saturday victory this season came at Texas-Arlington. Since then, UALR was blown out in Saturday games against Troy, Georgia State and Arkansas State.


Georgia State remained unbeaten by rallying to beat Texas-Arlington at home on Saturday. Western Kentucky is second at 7-2 and UALR third at 7-3.


There’s no more important question to answer about the UALR basketball team right now than the health status of UALR senior forward Will Neighbour. The likely Sun Belt Conference player of the week had 23 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and a steal in Saturday’s victory at South Alabama. But he injured his ankle late in that game and hobbled around the court when he returned.

UALR hopes to get sophomore forward James White back this week. But that advantage would be largely nullified if Neighbour can’t go.


When UALR has had to have it this year, Josh Hagins has provided it. Once again on Saturday, Hagins hit a key three-pointer as UALR held off South Alabama. Hagins finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 steals on Saturday.


UALR held a 20-8 advantage in second-chance points. Included in that total would have been Josh Hagins’ three-pointer that gave UALR the lead for good.


Playing without James White, UALR still held a 37-32 rebound advantage. That includes 18-11 in offensive rebounds. Of UALR’s 34 missed shots, UALR got back 18 of them (53 percent).


South Alabama made 7 of 15 (47 percent) three-point shots in the second half. Most of those came in the first 10 minutes as the Jaguars rallied to take the lead.


JAGS SUB 50:  South Alabama shot 43.5 percent from the field. When the Jaguars shoot less than 50 percent, they’re winless (0-6) in Sun Belt play. Grade: B+

THREES BELOW 35: UALR’s goal has been to keep opponents to less than 35 percent from three-point range. The Trojans didn’t make it on Saturday. South Alabama shot 36 percent. But, keeping it near that number was enough to win. Grade: B.

15 TIMES AT THE LINE: South Alabama is now 2-9 on the season when its opponent makes at least 15 free throws. UALR made 19 of 26. Grade: A.

FREE JOSH: Josh Hagins still isn’t shooting the ball like he’s capable. But he’s finding ways to be effective. He was only 5 of 15 from the field, but made a key three-pointer and 7 of 8 free throws. Grade: A-.


South Alabama was anywhere to a 4.5-point favorite some places to the game being completely off the board at others. Regardless, a bet on UALR was a winner.


UALR gets first place Georgia State on Thursday at the Jack Stephens Center. Georgia State made a long three-pointer to tie the game late and went on to beat Texas-Arlington on Saturday.