Troy (4-3) at Arkansas-Little Rock (4-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 29, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jack Stephens Center (5,600) -- Little Rock, Arkansas. Television: None. Home Record: Troy 2-1, UALR 3-0. Away Record: Troy 1-1, UALR 0-2. Neutral Record: Troy 1-1, UALR 1-1. Conference Record: Troy 0-0, UALR 0-0. Series Record: UALR leads 5-4.
GAMES NOTES: The Troy Trojans and the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans will get an early start on their Sun Belt Conference schedules when the two squads meet up at the Jack Stephens Center on Thursday.
Troy had a three-game winning streak put to an end in its last outing against UAB. The 20-point loss was not the worst loss of the season for the Trojans who also took a 70-46 beating from Louisiana Tech during their four-game stint in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. This is the first true road game for the Trojans who will return home for their next two games.
A three-game winning streak was also snapped for Arkansas-Little Rock in its last matchup against South Carolina. The 74-62 loss also concluded the Hoops for Hope Classic for the Trojans, an event where they went 3-1. On the season Arkanasas-Little Rock has yet to lose at home (3-0). The Trojans play three of their next four games at the Jack Stephens Center.
With a 74-62 victory last season, Arkansas-Little Rock took control of the all-time series 5-4.
There wasn't much resistance put up by Troy in its loss to UAB. The Trojans shot just 33.3 percent in the game, were outscored 27-18 from the 3-point line and were on the short end of a 45-29 deficit on the boards en route to the 75-55 defeat. Hunter Williams led the squad with 16 points but also turned the ball over four times and hit only 5-of-14 field goal attempts.
Even though Troy boasts a winning record, the Trojans cannot be pleased with their offensive production early on. As a team the Trojans score only 59.3 points per game and shoot 38.1 percent from the field. That has led to a -6.4 scoring differential, which is surprising for a team that has a record above .500. The Trojans also suffer from a -8.4 deficit in rebounds. Williams (11.6 ppg) is the only player on the team scoring in double figures but with a field goal percentage of just .367. Emil Jones (9.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.0 apg) and Antoine Myers (9.6 ppg) have both shown the ability to fill it up but have not done so consistently. Deonata Jethroe (7.0 ppg) is the only other player scoring more than six points per game.
With only nine field goals and misses on all six attempts from 3-point range in the first half against South Carolina, Arkansas-Little Rock dug itself into a hole it could not climb out of. The loss came despite the Trojans forcing 21 turnovers. It didn't help that they were outrebounded by a 40-25 margin. Will Neighbour was the lone scorer in double figures with 19 points along with a team-high five rebounds.
Arkansas-Little Rock has largely fought to a standstill with opponents this season with a minimal scoring differential (-0.5) while shooting just slightly better than the opposition at 41.4 percent from the field. After a slow start, Neighbour has begun to look more like the player that was expected to carry the offensive load for Arkansas-Little Rock this season. The 6-foot-10 forward (12.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg) has scored in double figures in four straight games after failing to do so in two of the first three games. John Gillon (12.3 ppg) is another double-figure scorer, doing so out of the backcourt, while James White (10.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg) adds even more offensive firepower and work on the boards in the frontcourt. No other player on the team scores more than seven points per game.
Although these teams have identical records, it is the host Trojans that have the edge, especially with Neighbour rounding into shape on the offensive end.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas-Little Rock 66, Troy 60
11/29 10:38:16 ET