South Alabama (6-9) at Arkansas-Little Rock (7-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 9, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jack Stephens Center (5,600) -- Little Rock, Arkansas. Television: None. Home Record: USA 6-3, UALR 3-3. Away Record: USA 0-4, UALR 2-3. Neutral Record: USA 0-2, UALR 0-2. Conference Record: USA 0-2, UALR 2-0. Series Record: South Alabama leads, 25-14.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams heading in opposite directions will face off at the Jack Stephens Center on Thursday night, as the South Alabama Jaguars visit the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans in a Sun Belt Conference bout.
South Alabama is going in reverse, as the team has lost three straight games, including each of its first two league contests. The losing streak has dropped the Jaguars to just 6-9 overall, and playing on the road isn't likely to help, as they are winless in four tries away from home this season. That is bad news considering they visit Arkansas State next.
As for UALR, the last few weeks have gone extremely well, with the squad earning wins in each of its last three contests. That includes a 2-0 start to the Sun Belt schedule for the Trojans, who have evened their overall record at 7-7. They will host Troy their next time out.
A season ago, USA claimed victory in each of the two meetings between the clubs, thus increasing its lead in the all-time series to 25-14.
In their most recent loss, the Jaguars were set down in a 73-63 final by Georgia State. South Alabama had a miserable showing at the offensive end, as they accumulated only six field goals over the final 20 minutes. Ken Williams paced the team with 19 points, while Augustine Rubit logged a double-double consisting of 11 points and 14 rebounds.
The Jaguars have really struggled on offense during their current four-game losing streak. They have scored 64 points or fewer in each contest, and are now shooting at a 40 percent clip for the season, good enough for only 10th place in the conference. Rubit (16.4 ppg, 9.8 rpg) is the only bright spot on the roster, as the 6-foot-7 forward is always a threat to post a double- double, having tallied six such efforts on the season. He can also be an explosive scorer, as he showed when he dropped in 35 points against Gonzaga a while back. Mychal Ammons (10.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Antoine Allen (10.1 ppg) are the team's next best scoring options.
Josh Hagins nailed a jumper as time expired to lift UALR to a 72-70 win over Texas-Arlington the last time out. The Trojans hit 54.8 percent of their shots from the floor in the second half to escape with the victory.
Even though Hagins hit the game-winner, it was Will Neighbour that was the star of the game for the Trojans, with 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Neighbour (16.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg) has been anchoring the team from the frontcourt all season long, serving as it's leading scorer and rebounder. Like Rubit, Neighbour does not get a ton of help, with Hagins (11.9 ppg) and James White (10.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg) the next best scoring options, and no other player accounting for more than seven ppg. Still, the Trojans find themselves firmly entrenched in the upper half of the Sun Belt standings in scoring (72.1 ppg) and field goal percentage (.435), ranking fifth in each category.
Neighbour and Rubit should be able to neutralize each other, meaning it comes down to the supporting casts, in which case UALR has a slight edge as it has a bit more balance than do the Jaguars.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arknasas-Little Rock 72, South Alabama 66
01/09 10:36:14 ET