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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 4, 6 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: College Park Center (7,000) -- Arlington, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: UALR 3-1, UTA 4-2. Away Record: UALR 2-5, UTA 1-6. Neutral Record: UALR 1-1, UTA 0-0. Conference Record: UALR 1-0, UTA 0-1. Series Record: Texas-Arlington leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Texas-Arlington Mavericks will greet the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans for the first time as Sun Belt Conference foes, when the two teams meet at the College Park Center on Saturday.
UALR is an established program in the Sun Belt, a conference it has called home since 1991. The Trojans got their 23rd year in the league off to a solid start on Thursday with a 63-59 win over Texas State. The victory moved them to 6-7 overall, while earning the team just its second win in seven tries on the road this season. UALR returns home to host South Alabama in its next outing.
The Sun Belt is UTA's third conference in as many years. After spending time in the Southland, the Mavericks moved to the Western Athletic Conference last year before shipping over to the Sun Belt for the foreseeable future. The Mavericks received a rude welcome to the league on Thursday, falling to Arkansas State in an 82-66 final. Following this contest, they will play a home game against ULM to wrap up a season-long, four-game homestand.
These two teams met as non-league foes for the first and only time during the 2007-08 campaign, with UTA recording a 68-58 victory.
Will Neighbour tossed in 20 points and Josh Hagins added 19 off the bench, as UALR bested Texas State two nights ago. The Trojans never led by more than six points over the final 10 minutes, but they shot at a 63.2 percent clip and converted 15-of-17 free-throw attempts in the second half to secure the victory.
As their record might indicate, the Trojans are a middle of the pack team when it comes to offensive production in comparison to the rest of the Sun Belt. UALR is ranked fifth in the 10-team league in scoring (72.2 ppg) and field goal percentage (.434), as well as rebounds (37.2 rpg). Neighbour (16.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg) has been putting in solid work for the Trojans his whole career. Now in his senior season, the 6-foot-10 forward is on pace to set career-highs in points, field goal percentage and rebounds. Hagins (12 ppg, 3 apg) is the only other player averaging in double figures. James White (9.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg) has scoring ability as well, and provides assistance in the frontcourt.
Despite a game-high 28 points from Reger Dowell, the Mavericks didn't do enough to overcome Arkansas State couple of days ago. Dowell connected on 9- of-21 shots from the floor, while the rest of the team was credited with only 11 field goals. UTA was also outscored from beyond the arc, 30-15.
Having the leading scorer in the league in Dowell (22.7 ppg) has done little to help UTA this season. The reason has been a lack of defensive pressure. The Mavericks are giving up 80.6 ppg, despite holding their foes just below 45 percent shooting. Some of that is a result of the pace at which they play, ranking 35th nationally in possessions per 40 minutes (74), although turning the ball over 13.7 times per game isn't helping. Dowell, formerly of Oklahoma State, has scored at least 20 points in nine games this season, including a pair of 30-point efforts. Brandon Edwards (18 ppg, 9.9 rpg) and Lonnie McClanahan (11.6 ppg, 4.2 apg) are also important contributors.
Despite some flashy numbers on offense, the Mavericks have not been formidable enough on defense to collect more victories. However, they aren't facing one of the bullies of the Sun Belt and have a good chance at getting their first league win on Saturday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas-Arlington 77, Arkansas-Little Rock 74
01/04 10:44:51 ET
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