Arkansas-Little Rock (12-12) at Louisiana (15-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 13, 8:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cajundome (11,550) -- Lafayette, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: UALR 6-4, ULL 9-2. Away Record: UALR 5-7, ULL 5-7. Neutral Record: UALR 1-1, ULL 1-0. Conference Record: UALR 7-5, ULL 6-5. Series Record: Louisiana leads, 22-18.
GAME NOTES: The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns will kick off a three-game homestand on Thursday night with a Sun Belt Conference clash against the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans.
UALR isn't carrying a great deal of momentum into this contest, with losses in back-to-back games and three of its last five. The Trojans' recent struggles have dropped them to an even 12-12 overall and to 7-5 in conference play. They will visit ULM in their next contest.
Louisiana is heading in the right direction, with wins in three straight after losing three in a row. The Ragin' Cajuns have the third best overall record in the Sun Belt (15-9), but they are just fifth in the conference standings (6-5). They take on Arkansas State and Troy in the other installments of this homestand.
When Louisiana visited UALR on Jan. 30, the Trojans came away with an 80-69 victory. UALR has won three of the last four meetings, but Louisiana leads the all-time series, 22-18.
A buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Western Kentucky's Trency Jackson sank UALR's hopes in a 79-78 decision last time out. The Trojans connected on 52.2 percent of their shots from the floor, but in the end scoring deficits from beyond the arc (36-21) and in second-chance opportunities (14-8) did them in.
Perhaps more disappointing than the loss was the effort put forth by leading scorer Will Neighbour (16.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg), who had only six points on 2-of-5 shooting. Neighbour has been wildly erratic in the last five games, with three efforts outside of double figures, but a pair of 20-point showings as well. Josh Hagins (11.8 ppg) and James White (11.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) are the team's best scoring threats if Neighbour continues to struggle. Hagins tied for a game- high 20 points and White tacked on 14 in the loss to Western Kentucky. In all, the Trojans are scoring a pedestrian 70.5 ppg on 43.1 percent shooting.
Louisiana won in thrilling fashion in its last contest, topping Texas State, 67-66, on a 3-pointer from Xavian Rimmer with 10 seconds to play. The Ragin' Cajuns only hit 37.3 percent of their shots from the floor, but they grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and scored 21 second-chance points.
The Cajuns haven't had much trouble putting points on the board, as they lead the Sun Belt in scoring (80.8 ppg), while ranking second in both assists (13.9 apg) and field goal percentage (.462). Leading the way are Shawn Long (20.3 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.9 bpg) and Elfrid Payton (19.,7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.8 apg, 2.3 spg), who are sure bets for all-league honors as they are two of the most productive players in the Sun Belt. Long, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds against Texas State, leads the conference in rebounds and blocks, while ranking second in scoring. Meanwhile, Payton is the top producer in assists and steals, and fourth in scoring.
Louisiana has seemingly figured out its issues and is picking up its play at the right time. With Long and Payton pacing their effort, the Ragin' Cajuns will be a tough team to beat.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 78, Arkansas-Little Rock 70
02/13 10:35:27 ET