Western Kentucky (15-7) at Arkansas-Little Rock (12-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 6 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jack Stephens Center (5,600) -- Little Rock, Arkansas. Television: ESPN3, Sun Belt Network. Home Record: WKU 10-3, UALR 6-3. Away Record: WKU 5-4, UALR 5-7. Neutral Record: WKU 0-0, UALR 1-1. Conference Record: WKU 7-2, UALR 7-4. Series Record: Western Kentucky leads, 34-13.
GAME NOTES: The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers will put their five-game winning streak on the line as they get set to battle the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans in a Sun Belt Conference contest at the Jack Stephens Center.
Since falling to the Trojans, 87-83, in triple overtime on Jan. 16, WKU has won five games in a row to rise to a 15-7 overall record. Coach Ray Harper's team trailed the Texas State by three points at the intermission before surging back in the second half for the triumph last weekend. The Hilltoppers are in sole possession of second place in the Sun Belt Conference race, trailing the first place Georgia State Panthers by 2.5 games. Although WKU is averaging only 69 ppg on the campaign, it has netted 75 ppg over the span of its current winning streak.
The Trojans had a two-game winning streak end on Thursday as they dropped a 68-57 decision to Georgia State. UALR connected on only 36.8 percent of their shots from the floor including a 2-of-14 clip from 3-point range in the loss. The team failed to sink a shot from beyond the arc until there were only 44 seconds left in regulation. Coach Steve Shields's squad is averaging 70.2 ppg on 42.8 percent efficiency from the field for the season. The Trojans are right behind the visitors in the Sun Belt race with a 7-4 league ledger.
This will be the 38th meeting between these school on the hardwood. UALR's four-point win over the Hilltoppers last month marked just its 13th triumph in the rivalry's history.
To keep their winning streak alive, the Hilltoppers outscored Texas State, 15-10, in points off turnovers and also, 12-3, in second-chance points. George Fant scored 21 points and grabbed five rebounds to pace WKU, while T.J. Price chipped in 13 points, Caden Dickerson netted 12 points and O'Karo Akamune posted eight points to go along with a team-best nine rebounds. On the season, Price pours in 16.8 ppg, with a large portion of his damage coming from beyond the arc (58-of-157). Fant is the featured player in the frontcourt with 13.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg. Chris Harrison-Docks scores 10.4 ppg but does so on a mere 37.1 percent efficiency from the field.
In their most recent outing, the Trojans' bench tallied 24 points compared to 10 by GSU's reserves. However, the Panthers finished the game with a 41-35 advantage in total rebounds and outscored UALR, 19-13, at the charity stripe. Star forward Will Neighbour was held to four points on 1-of-4 shooting from the field and grabbed a game-high 10 boards. James White scored 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds to spearhead the charge, while both Josh Hagins and Leroy Isler each chipped in 11 points in the loss. Neighbour appears to be heading towards All-Sun Belt Conference honors with team-leading averages of 17.1 ppg and 7.4 rpg. White is contributing 11.6 ppg to go along with six rpg.
The Trojans stepped up their play to take down WKU in Bowling Green last month, but a similar performance will be difficult to duplicate. The Hilltoppers are riding a wave of momentum into the Jack Stephens Center, which means Neighbour, who pumped in 32 points versus WKU in January, will need to bounce back from his lackadaisical performance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Kentucky 70, Arkansas-Little Rock 67
02/08 10:21:08 ET