Louisiana (12-8) at Arkansas-Little Rock (10-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 30, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jack Stephens Center (5,600) -- Little Rock, Arkansas. Television: None. Home Record: Louisiana 8-2, UALR 5-2. Away Record: Louisiana 3-6, UALR 4-7. Neutral Record: Louisiana 1-0, UALR 1-1. Conference Record: Louisiana 3-4, UALR 3-2. Series Record: Louisiana leads, 22-17.
GAME NOTES: The Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans will try to climb back above the .500 mark on Thursday night, as they square off with the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns in a Sun Belt Conference clash at the Jack Stephens Center.
Louisiana has dropped its last two contests, suffering setbacks at home to Georgia State (77-70) and Western Kentucky (79-70). The short downturn has dropped the Ragin' Cajuns to 3-4 in league play, although they are still a respectable 12-8 overall. Up next is a meeting with in-state rival ULM.
UALR was routed by an intrastate rival of its own last time out, falling in a 77-49 final to Arkansas State on Saturday. The Trojans are now 10-10 overall, with a record of 3-2 in Sun Belt contests. They will move on to visit South Alabama next.
These teams have split the season series in each of the last four years. However, Louisiana still leads the all-time series with 22 wins in 39 prior meetings.
It came down to offensive execution for Louisiana in its recent loss to Western Kentucky. The Ragin' Cajuns only connected on 38.3 percent of their shots from the floor, including a 5-of-15 showing from beyond the arc. Elfrid Payton netted 16 points and handed out six assists, while Shawn Long finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Payton (19.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 6.1 apg, 2.5 spg) and Long (20.2 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 3.1 bpg) are putting up strong numbers across the board this season. Long is second in the conference in scoring and leading the league in rebounds and blocks. He is the only player in the conference to average a double-double for the year. Payton leads the Sun Belt in assists and steals, while ranking third in scoring. Unfortunately they have not gotten enough support from the rest of the cast, with Kasey Shepherd (8.2 ppg), a reserve, the next-best scoring option.
Gus Leeper finished with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting as the only player in double figures during UALR's loss to Arkansas State. The Trojans managed to sink only 24.1 percent of their attempts from the field, while being outrebounded by a 52-39 margin.
Encapsulating the team's entire offensive effort in the loss to the Red Wolves was Will Neighbour (17.1 ppg, 7 rpg). Normally the team's leading scorer and rebounder, he finished with just a single point and four boards against Arkansas State, missing all 12 of his shots from the field. The Trojans were hurt even more by the absence of their second-leading scorer, James White (11.4 ppg), who missed the game with a sprained ankle. He is listed as questionable for this tilt. Josh Hagins (11 ppg) is the third member of the team not only scoring in double figures, but putting in more than seven ppg.
Although it is unlikely Neighbour will have another horrendous offensive outing like he did last time out, without White, the Trojans don't have enough offensive threats to contend with Payton and Long.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 76, Arkansas-Little Rock 69
01/30 10:36:59 ET