Arkansas-Little Rock (14-10) at ULM (3-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 7, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Fant-Ewing Coliseum (7,085) -- Monroe, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: UALR 11-2, ULM 2-5. Away Record: UALR 2-7, ULM 1-10. Neutral Record: UALR 1-1, ULM 0-0. Conference Record: UALR 8-5, ULM 2-10. Series Record: Arkansas-Little Rock leads, 13-8.
GAME NOTES: The ULM Warhawks return home hoping to snap a season-long losing streak when they welcome the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans to Fant-Ewing Coliseum for a Sun Belt Conference showdown on Thursday night.
UALR hosted South Alabama last Saturday and fell on the wrong end of a 70-66 decision for its first loss since Jan. 17. Despite the setback, the Trojans are still in the midst of a successful season at 14-10 overall, and at 8-5 in league play they are tied for first place in the Sun Belt West Division with Arkansas State.
ULM has established itself as the league's bottom-dweller for the second consecutive season, as it has won just three of its 18 games overall. The Warhawks are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, most recently falling in a hard-fought battle with FIU on the road last Saturday, 76-73, to drop to 2-10 in conference.
UALR has won five straight games over ULM, including a dominating 83-58 triumph at home in the first meeting this season on Dec. 1, 2012 to take a 13-8 lead in the all-time series.
The Trojans dug themselves a big hole early in their latest contest against South Alabama, as they found themselves down by as many as 15 points before the first half was out. They scratched and clawed their way back in it, cutting their deficit to just two with under two minutes to play, but they would get no closer. UALR shot less than 35 percent from the field on the evening and only managed to keep the game close thanks to a respectable showing from the foul line (20-of-28). Ben Dillard poured in 15 points to lead the way, Josh Hagins followed closely with 13 points, and Will Neighbour grabbed 10 rebounds. On the season, UALR has been an above-average scoring team by Sun Belt standards, putting up 67.2 ppg on nearly 43 percent shooting. Neighbour has performed like one of the league's top forwards at both ends of the floor, tallying 11.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg and 1.3 spg. John Gillon adds 10.1 ppg thanks in large part to his stellar free-throw percentage (.821).
ULM trailed for much of its contest against FIU over the weekend, but it managed to take a 73-71 lead with just over a minute remaining on an Amos Olatayo layup, but it would go scoreless down the stretch while FIU added five more points to capture the win. Despite the loss, it was one of the Warhawks' best offensive performances of the season, as they shot 58 percent from the field, and they were paced by a handful of outstanding performances. Olatayo shot 12-of-18 on his way to a career-high 30 points, while Jayon James just missed a triple-double with 11 points, nine rebounds and 15 assists, the second-most helpers in a single game in school history. Trent Mackey was on fire from 3-point range (5-of-8) en route to 21 points. ULM owns the worst scoring offense in the conference, netting less than 60 ppg, and it is rarely helped out by sub-standard defensive effort (70.3 ppg). Olatayo has been a pleasant surprise in his first season in Monroe, tallying 15.9 ppg on nearly 49 percent shooting. Mackey adds 10.8 ppg behind 46-of-111 from 3-point range (.414), while James stuffs the stat sheet with 10.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 5.3 apg and 1.4 spg.
As it showed in its last outing, ULM has much more ability than its poor record would indicate, and a return home could mean a reversal of fortune, but it's difficult to side with the Warhawks until they can prove themselves for a full 40 minutes. UALR has had trouble on the road, but it should be able to hang on for the win here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas-Little Rock 70, ULM 65
02/07 10:35:46 ET