Louisiana Tech (8-3) at Arkansas-Little Rock (8-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 17, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jack Stephens Center (5,600) -- Little Rock, Arkansas. Television: None. Home Record: LaTech 4-0, UALR 7-0. Away Record: LaTech 2-3, UALR 0-3. Neutral Record: LaTech 2-0, UALR 1-1. Conference Record: LaTech 0-0, UALR 2-0. Series Record: Louisiana Tech leads, 26-13.
GAME NOTES: The Trojans of Arkansas-Little Rock have revenge as a motivating factor, as they meet up with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs for the second time in just over a month, this time at the Jack Stephens Center.
Back in the middle of November when both programs were just getting into an early rhythm, the Bulldogs hosted UALR at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston and delivered a 70-52 win. That victory has moved the Bulldogs ahead in the all-time series by a count of 26-13, however the last three games played in Arkansas have all resulted in wins for the Trojans.
As far as the rest of the season to this point is concerned, that win for the Bulldogs over UALR began a seven-game win streak for LaTech. However, in recent weeks the team has been knocked down a few pegs with a loss to Northwestern State and on Dec. 12, an 80-72 setback versus McNeese State on the road. In between, the Bulldogs did manage to take out Southern Miss (65-55) at home in order to remain perfect in Ruston through four opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Trojans are also undefeated at home, but their level of success has reached seven in a row thanks to a 72-65 triumph over Tulsa on Saturday. The win was the fourth in the last five games overall for a UALR group that has already gotten off to a fast start in Sun Belt Conference play with consecutive victories over Troy and ULM.
While the game was still within the state of Louisiana, the Bulldogs were not the favorite as they clashed with McNeese State in Lake Charles. In a game that featured four ties and 11 lead changes, LaTech didn't do itself any favors by shooting just 4-of-21 behind the 3-point line and allowing the Cowboys to knock down a solid 52.5 percent from the floor, and yet the visitors led 11-0 early on. Michale Kyser responded with a double-double consisting of 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, while JL Lewis and Kenneth Smith produced 14 and 11 points, respectively, in an effort to counter a weak game by Raheem Appleby who accounted for a mere four points. Appleby continues to lead the team in scoring overall with his 17.8 ppg, while Cordarius Johnson checks in with another 12.5 ppg, but the rest of the supporting cast doesn't always come up with sufficient efforts. Nevertheless, the defense for the Bulldogs continues to make things interesting by holding foes to an average of 63.7 ppg.
Making a total of just eight field goals in the first half against UALR on Saturday, the Golden Hurricane didn't stand much of a chance in enemy territory, even though the visitors were able to cut what had been a 17-point deficit to seven points at the end. John Gillon led the way on offense with 17 points, adding seven rebounds and four assists, while James White and Josh Hagins chipped in with 12 and 11 points, respectively, for a team that survived 18 turnovers by converting 8-of-14 shots from 3-point range. Will Neighbour, who at one point had strung together six games with double-digit scoring, has had a few bumpy outings of late, like the five points he managed to produce versus Tulsa, yet he is still the leading scorer overall for the program with 11.4 ppg and is also first on the glass with better than six rebounds per game. Gillon is good for another 11.3 ppg as the team relies heavily on a defense that has limited the competition to just 62.9 ppg on 26.5 percent accuracy beyond the arc.
At some point the Trojans will have to give up their perfect record at home, but as long as they can follow the model set by McNeese State, UALR should be able to add at least one more victory to the streak on Monday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas-Little Rock 69, Louisiana Tech 65
12/17 10:36:58 ET