Troy (11-19) vs. Arkansas Little Rock (14-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 13, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lakefront Arena (8,933) - New Orleans, Louisiana. Television: Sun Belt Network. Home Record: Troy 85, UALR 7-6. Away Record: Troy 3-11, UALR 6-9. Neutral Record: Troy 0-2, UALR 1-1. Conference Record: Troy 6-12, UALR 9-9. Series Record: UALR leads, 7-6.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Trojans get the Sun Belt Tournament underway when Arkansas-Little Rock battles Troy in opening-round action at Lakefront Arena.
UALR enters the tournament as the five seed after posting a 9-9 record in conference play, while Troy comes in as the eight seed, going 6-12 in the Sun Belt.
The winner of this game will face the fourth-seeded Arkansas State Red Wolves on Friday in the quarterfinal round.
After getting off to a 7-3 start in conference play, UALR sputtered down the stretch losing six of its final eight. In its regular-season finale on Saturday, the Trojans lost to UL-Monroe, 66-65. Josh Hagins scored a game-high 18 points to go along with seven assists to pace the UALR, which finished the season with a 14-16 record overall. James White added 11 points and Leroy Isler finished with 10 points and seven boards for the Trojans, who nearly rallied from a 16-point deficit to the Warhawks.
After holding ULM scoreless in the final 3:57 of the game, including four missed free throws, UALR had a chance to win the game at the end, but Hagins missed back-to-back jumpers in the final three seconds.
Although UALR struggled over the final month of the season, the setback to ULM ended a brief two-game win streak, which included a 62-55 win over Troy on Feb. 27.
In that game against Troy, Ben Dillard scored 18 points as UALR avenged a loss to Troy earlier in the season. Tevin Calhoun tallied 16 points and Hunter Williams and Jeff Mullahey each had 12 for Troy, which had beaten UALR 75-62 on Jan. 11. In the first meeting, Mullahey scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Calhoun added 17 points of his own as Troy handed UALR its first conference setback.
Troy's Sun Belt season was somewhat of a roller coaster. While the Trojans had twice as many losses as wins and enter the tournament as the lowest seed (last place Texas State and ninth-place South Alabama didn't qualify for the tournament), they are the only team to defeat top seed Georgia State(17-1) in conference play. So, the talent is there for Troy, it's just a matter of putting it together.
After defeating Georgia State 85-81 on Feb. 15, Troy lost four of six to close out the regular season. In its finale on Saturday, Troy defeated Texas State, 72-50. Hunter Williams netted 19 points and connected on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point distance as the Trojans improved to 11-19 overall for the season. Antoine Myers scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the route.
ULAR, which is the last team other than Western Kentucky to win the Sun Belt Tournament (2011), is led in scoring and rebounding by Will Neighbour's 16.3 ppg and 7.0 rpg. Neighbour, however, has missed the last four games with a shoulder injury and it's uncertain whether or not he'll be suiting up for this contest. Hagins (12.2) and White (11.2) round out the double-digit scorers for UALR, which averages 70 ppg as a team this season.
Troy is led in scoring by Williams' 14.0 ppg. Antoine Myers adds 12.1 ppg for Troy, which averages just 68.7 ppg but yields only 69.9 ppg.
Both of these schools enter the postseason tournament struggling. However, Troy has been playing a little better of late and its strong play on the defensive end should provide enough of an advantage to come away with the win in a low-scoring game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Troy 68, Arkansas-Little Rock 65
03/13 11:08:50 ET