Arkansas-Little Rock (13-9) at North Texas (8-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 26, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Super Pit (9,797) -- Denton, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: UALR 11-1, UNT 5-5. Away Record: UALR 1-7, UNT 1-7. Neutral Record: UALR 1-1, UNT 2-1. Conference Record: UALR 7-4, UNT 3-7. Series Record: Arkansas-Little Rock leads, 17-9.
GAME NOTES: The Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans try to extend their winning streak to three games on Saturday night, as they have made the trek to Denton to take on the North Texas Mean Green.
After a 59-54 win at Western Kentucky on Jan. 19, UALR followed that up with a 65-62 come-from-behind victory over Florida Atlantic on Thursday to pull to 13-9 overall and 7-4 in the Sun Belt. It has been a tale of two season for the Trojans. While they are an outstanding 11-1 at home, they have lost seven of eight true road games.
North Texas is undoubtedly one of the Sun Belt's most disappointing squads, as it sits at 8-13 overall and just 3-7 in league play. The Mean Green opened a brief two-game homestand on Thursday with a 72-64 loss to first-place Middle Tennessee for their fourth defeat in the last six contests.
UALR captured the first game of the season series a few weeks back, defeating North Texas 67-53 on Jan. 10, to take a 17-9 lead in the all-time series.
The Trojans found themselves down by as many as 22 points in the first half on their home floor to FAU, but they slowly but surely chipped away at the lead down the stretch until Kemy Osse connected on the game-winning layup in the final minute to help the team earn a three-point win. Will Neighbour sparked the comeback with a career-high 24 points on 7-of-10 from the field and 8- of-11 from the foul line, and he added 11 rebounds to record his fourth double-double of the season. Osse was also a big factor, logging 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench. On the season, UALR ranks in the middle of the SBC offensively, ranking sixth in scoring (67.5 ppg), although it is helped by a solid scoring defense (65.8 ppg) and a +1.5 turnover margin. Neighbour is a rock-solid option in the frontcourt, shooting 48 percent from the field for 11.6 ppg, while also adding 6.9 rpg, 1.2 spg and 1.0 bpg to the table. John Gillon (10.3 ppg) recently returned after missing five games due to injury, and seven others average between 4.9 and 8.6 ppg.
North Texas gave mighty Middle Tennessee a run for its money, but while the team shot a respectable 44.9 percent from the floor, it couldn't overcome a game-high 19 turnovers in suffering the eight-point home loss. Jordan Williams was off the mark with his shot (5-of-16), but he drained all eight of his free throw attempts en route to 20 points. Roger Franklin tacked on 14 points, Niko Stojiljkovic contributed 12 points and nine rebounds, and Tony Mitchell logged 10 points and blocked four shots. Mitchell is the league's leading shot blocker with 2.8 per contest, and while his other numbers appear impressive (14.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.2 spg), he's been largely underwhelming as the preseason Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. The super sophomore is surrounded by quality scorers in Jordan Williams (11.8 ppg), Alzee Williams (10.7 ppg), and Franklin (10.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg), but even with all that talent, the Mean Green still rank in the lower-half of the league in scoring (66.5 ppg).
There's no question that UALR has outperformed North Texas so far this season, but the Trojans have been a completely different team away from Little Rock. The Mean Green should be able to enjoy the confines of the Super Pit and register their fourth Sun Belt win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Texas 70, Arkansas-Little Rock 66
01/26 10:36:47 ET