FIU (8-7) at Arkansas-Little Rock (10-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 12, 4:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jack Stephens Center (5,600) -- Little Rock, Arkansas.
Television: CSS, CST. Home Record: FIU 4-2, UALR 9-1. Away Record: FIU 4-5,
UALR 0-6. Neutral Record: FIU 0-0, UALR 1-1. Conference Record: FIU 3-3, UALR
4-3. Series Record: Arkansas-Little Rock leads, 16-8.
GAME NOTES: The Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans will try to keep their impressive
run at the Jack Stephens Center alive on Saturday night, as they entertain the
FIU Panthers in a Sun Belt Conference tilt.
FIU's season started off less than ideal, and following a Dec. 29 loss to
Middle Tennessee it was sitting at 4-7. The new year has brought with it great
success however, as the team has ripped off a four-game winning streak to move
above .500 for the first time.
The Panthers are coming off perhaps their most impressive victory to date, as
they traveled to Arkansas State on Thursday night and escaped with a 66-64
win. Jerome Frink hit what proved to be the game-winning free throws with just
over three minutes to play in the game, and he finished with 12 points. Also
scoring 12 points was Tymell Murphy, while Deric Hill (11 points, six
rebounds, three assists) and Malik Smith (10 points, three steals) were also
solid in the win.
It has been a similarly up-and-down campaign for UALR. While the squad has not
found any success away from home (0-6 on the road), it sports a 10-8 overall
record thanks mostly to its outstanding play in Little Rock, winning nine of
10 at the Jack Stephens Center.
The Trojans continued to show their prowess on their own floor on Thursday
night when they easily dismissed North Texas, 67-53, to improve to 4-3 in Sun
Belt play. They did most of their damage in the second half, where they
outscored the Mean Green by a 40-21 margin, and shot a lofty 60 percent from
the field. James White made the most of his 24 minutes off the bench, going 7-
of-12 for 16 points. Josh Hagins added 11 points, eight assists and six
steals, while Will Neighbour chipped in with nine points, 11 rebounds and
UALR has doubled up FIU in the all-time series, 16-8, which includes a win in
the only matchup last season, 78-64, at home.
FIU has played several close games this season, which is reflected in its
minus-2.1 scoring margin. It also gets outperformed on the glass by 2.7 rpg,
but it makes up for it my boasting a plus-1.5 turnover differential. The
Panthers' most productive player is Murphy, who shoots greater than 60 percent
from the floor for 15.1 ppg while adding 7.7 rpg, and more than a block and a
steal per game as well. Smith (14.4 ppg) isn't nearly as impressive from the
floor (.374), but he has drained 46 of the team's 104 3-pointers. Frink adds
10.2 ppg and 7.3 rpg to the mix.
UALR also boasts a modest offensive output, shooting 43 percent from the field
for 68.0 ppg, which is nearly three points per game more than it allows on
average. Neighbour paces the squad in both scoring (11.2 ppg) and rebounding
(6.9 rpg) while also making an impact at the defensive end with 20 blocks and
21 steals. While John Gillon is the only other Trojan to net double figures in
scoring on a nightly basis (10.8 ppg, .403 3PT percentage), six players
average between 5.1 and 9.2 ppg.
The Panthers' hot streak has been impressive, and it wouldn't be a surprise if
they made it five wins in a row. However, UALR has been outstanding at home
and it should put together a strong enough all-around effort to hold off FIU
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas Little Rock 68, FIU 65
01/12 10:33:26 ET
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