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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 18, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Murphy Center (11,520) -- Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: UALR 0-1, MT 3-0. Away Record: UALR 0-1, MT 0-0. Neutral Record: UALR 0-0, MT 0-0. Conference Record: UALR 0-0, MT 0-0. Series Record: Arkansas-Little Rock leads, 13-11.
GAME NOTES: The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders shoot for their fourth straight win as they clash with a former Sun Belt Conference rival, the Trojans of Arkansas-Little Rock, tonight at the Murphy Center.
Middle Tennessee, which doesn't hit the road until later this week at Florida, has won some close calls to this point. First, the team took down Southern (78-75), and then triumphed over North Florida (77-70) before slipping by Akron on Saturday (80-73) in order to remain undefeated.
As for the Trojans, they went up against 11th-ranked Florida on Saturday and were crushed by a final of 86-56 on the road. The defeat was the second in as many games for UALR, which bowed to North Florida (72-70) in the season opener back on Nov. 11.
With respect to the all-time series between these two programs, UALR leads by a count of 13-11, the most recent meetings coming last season as the Blue Raiders won at home (82-50), and on the road (66-61) before leaving the Sun Belt for Conference USA.
Will Neighbour came off the bench for a change and accounted for a team-best 21 points for the Trojans against Florida at the O'Connell Center, but it wasn't nearly enough to keep UALR competitive in the 30-point setback. The only other double-digit scorer for the Trojans was James White who not only tallied 16 points, he also cleared a team-high nine rebounds. Unfortunately, no one else on the roster made more than three field goals in the matchup, as they turned the ball over 18 times and shot just 2-of-11 behind the 3-point line.
Despite being a reserve over the weekend, Neighbour is still the leading scorer after two games for the Trojans with his 16.5 ppg, having shot 55.6 percent from the floor and a perfect 9-of-9 at the free-throw line. Josh Hagins checks in with 10.0 ppg, but in his case he is making only 38.1 percent of his field goal chances and 1-of-8 out on the perimeter, the team as a whole converting only 38.1 percent from the floor at the moment.
Shooting 51.9 percent from the floor in the first half, including 4-of-6 behind the 3-point line, the Blue Raiders found themselves tied with Akron at the break on Saturday, so they turned it up a notch in the second half. After the intermission, MT made good on an impressive 61.9 percent from the field, as well as 19-of-29 at the free-throw line in order to pull away. Shawn Jones recorded a double-double with 24 points and 12 boards, followed by Kerry Hammonds and Jaqawn Raymond with 17 points apiece, and Tweety Knight 11 points to go along with five assists and four steals.
Now shooting 57.1 percent from the field, Jones is responsible for 15.3 ppg for the Blue Raiders, accounting for 8.0 rpg to pace the team as well, but one has to wonder how much better his numbers could be if not for his consistent foul issues. Hammonds checks in with another 15.0 ppg, but in his case he is converting only 38.5 percent from the floor, but making up for it with 20- of-24 at the charity stripe.
Being at home will absolutely give the Blue Raiders an advantage in this meeting, as will their familiarity with UALR even though the teams are now in different conferences.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Middle Tennessee 75, Arkansas-Little Rock 69
11/18 10:31:39 ET
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