Arkansas-Little Rock (7-6) vs. Stetson (3-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, December 23rd, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: South Point Hotel Events Center (4,600) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: None. Home Record: UALR 5-1, Stetson 1-2. Away Record: UALR 1-4, Stetson 2-4. Neutral Record: UALR 1-1, Stetson 0-2. Conference Record: UALR 0-0, Stetson 1-1. Series Record: Arkansas-Little Rock leads, 7-4.
GAME NOTES: The Stetson Hatters try to snap a four-game slide in Sin City tonight as they take on the Trojans of Arkansas-Little Rock in the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic at the South Point Hotel Events Center.
Yesterday afternoon the Hatters were pitted against Akron in this event and failed miserably to remain competitive in a 72-56 final. The defeat was the fifth in the last six outings for a program which hit a high-water mark with an 89-79 defeat of Wake Forest in the season opener. Unfortunately, that triumph lost some of its luster on Tuesday night when the Demon Deacons lost to the Blue Hose of Presbyterian.
As for the Trojans, they scored a season-low 52 points on Wednesday afternoon, yet that was still good enough to earn the squad a three-point win over Oral Roberts in this tourney. The victory served to snap a three-game slide for UALR, which is now back to being over .500 on the season at 7-6.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Trojans are ahead by a count of 7-4, although it was Stetson that won the most recent meeting by a score of 89-74 back in 1991.
UALR trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half against Oral Roberts on Wednesday, but the Trojans refused to pack it in, fought back and secured the win thanks to a couple of free throws by Solomon Bozeman in the final minute of regulation. Bozeman converted 11-of-15 at the free-throw line on the day for his 17 points, which means the rest of the roster converted a combined 5- of-13. Daylon Guy added 13 points and six rebounds off the bench for a team that shot just 35.4 percent from the field and 2-of-11 behind the three-point line. After 13 games Bozeman, one of only two players to have started every outing, is the lone double-digit scorer for the Trojans with his 13.8 ppg. Aside from his impressive 82.2 percent accuracy at the free-throw line, what is most remarkable about Bozeman's efforts is that he is shooting better behind the three-point line (.418) than he is the field overall (.353).
Stetson fell behind early against the Akron Zips yesterday, making just nine field goals in the first half, and was never able to recover in the double- digit setback. For the game, the Hatters converted a decent 41.7 percent from the floor, but their 2-of-13 effort beyond the arc was just as dreadful as their 14-of-27 at the free-throw line. Toss in 23 turnovers and there was no way Stetson was going to truly compete. Ridge Graham recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, but he shot just 4-of-12 from the floor, while Tyshawn Patterson accounted for a substantial 18 points in a mere 19 minutes off the bench. Patterson, a part-time starter this season who has made just 51.2 percent of his free-throw chances and 7-of-35 (.200) behind the three- point line, stands as the second-best scoring option for Stetson at the moment with his 10.5 ppg. Leading the way for the offense is Graham with his 15.0 ppg, adding 7-3 rpg, yet he too has been far too inaccurate at the charity stripe (.492) and that has brought the entire team's mark down to just 62.1 percent through 11 games.
The fact that Stetson can't hit free throws even when they are not being defended has to be a concern for the Hatters and it should provide UALR with a strategy on how to go about winning this game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas-Little Rock 71, Stetson 64
12/23 10:35:26 ET