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F-I-U (7-17) at Arkansas-Little Rock (12-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 16th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jack Stephens Center (5,600) -- Little Rock, Arkansas. Television: CSS/CST. Home Record: FIU 1-8, UALR 7-5. Away Record: FIU 5-7, UALR 5-8. Neutral Record: FIU 1-2, UALR 0-1. Conference Record: FIU 4-8, UALR 9-3. Series Record: Arkansas-Little Rock leads, 14-6.
GAME NOTES: The FIU Golden Panthers will try to avoid their third straight loss when they visit the Jack Stephens Center to take on the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans in Sun Belt Conference action.
FIU has already logged four losing streaks of three games or more in what has been a very disappointing 7-17 season. After winning back-to-back games against Sun Belt foes in early February, the Golden Panthers have reverted to their losing ways, dropping two straight games at home -- to North Texas last Thursday and versus Denver last Saturday.
Though UALR has a losing record overall, it sports an impressive 9-3 mark against conference foes and sits alone atop the Sun Belt Conference West Division standings with a mark of 9-3. After winning four straight, the Trojans dropped a tough one against East Division leaders Middle Tennessee last Saturday, 68-60.
Arkansas-Little Rock has won two of the last three meetings with FIU, and leads the all-time series, 14-6.
FIU squanders its above average defense (65.8 ppg) by having the second-worst offense in the Sun Belt, scoring just 62.1 ppg. The Golden Panthers connect on just 41.7 percent of their field goal attempts on the season and performed even worse in last Saturday's loss, draining just 41.2 percent of their total shots and 4-of-13 three-point tries. FIU continues to lose despite consistently getting solid individual performances. Last Saturday it was Jeremy Allen, who scored a career-high 29 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field and 13-of-15 at the free-throw line. The Golden Panthers have two of the Sun Belt's top-10 scorers in Allen (14 ppg) and Phil Taylor (13.7 ppg), though neither shoots above 41 percent from the floor. DeJuan Wright has been their most outstanding player (15.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, .508 FG percentage), but he does not qualify among the conference leaders due to missing seven games. Dominique Ferguson is a solid presence in the paint, contributing 9.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg. FIU ranks last in the SBC in assists (8.9 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.6).
UALR has a similar identity as FIU, sporting the league's third-best scoring defense (63.9 ppg) while owning the third-worst scoring offense (62.7 ppg). Unlike the Golden Panthers however, the Trojans have been able to find success with this model, but they ran into a buzz saw on Saturday in the form of 23- win Middle Tennessee, which shot a lights-out 63.4 percent from the floor. Will Neighbour scored a career-high 22 points in the defeat by connecting on 8-of-11 field goals and 3-of-6 three-pointers. D'Andre Williams is the Trojans catalyst on offense, ranking ninth in the Sun Belt in scoring (12.7 ppg) and fourth in assists (4.1 apg) while also adding 3.8 rpg and 1.7 spg. Neighbour (10.8 ppg) and Chuck Guy (10.1 ppg) provide solid support for the modest scoring attack. All three top scorers average at least 1.0 three pointer per game, though as a team UALR ranks 10th in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (.321).
Though its success may be hard to explain, UALR's 9-3 conference record speaks for itself and should be able to get back on track at home against a lackluster FIU squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas-Little Rock 67, FIU 61
02/16 10:35:33 ET
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