GAME THREAD: FAU @ UALR - 01/24/13 @ 8:00 PM
GAME THREAD: FAU @ UALR - 01/24/13 @ 8:00 PM
What: Florida Atlantic (10-10, 5-4 SBC) vs Arkansas-Little Rock (12-9, 6-4 SBC)
When: Thursday, Jan. 24th 8:00 PM EST
Where: Jack Stephens Center
Trojans Team Site: Here
Live Video: UALRTrojans.com (FEE)
Internet Broadcast: Here
Live Stats: Here
G Stefan Moody 14.2 ppg
G Greg Gantt 22.5 ppg
G Pablo Bertone 8.5 ppg
F Jordan McCoy 5.3 ppg
F Kelvin Penn 1.3 ppg
G Josh Hagins 7.7 ppg
G Leroy Isler 7.1 ppg
F Taggart Lockhart 5.9 ppg
F Michael Javes 5.9 ppg
F Will Neighbour 11.0 ppg
UALR owns a 4-3 all-time advantage in the series, thanks to a 40-38 win last season.
The Owls led by as much as six points in the second half, but couldn’t stop an 8-0 run which ended with a last second-shot from D’Andre Williams to win the game. Kore White paced the Owls with 17 points, as the teams combined for a raunchy 3-of-28 shooting for three-point range. The lack of points was good enough to be the lowest-scoring contest in the eight-year history of the Jack Stephens Center.
Owls at a Glance
The Owls dropped their fourth game of the season by three points or less on Saturday night, falling 61-59 to North Texas in overtime. FAU had a chance to tie or win the game in the final seconds of play, but couldn’t convert on two ill-advised shots.
Tony Mitchell paced the Mean Green with 24 points and proved to be a mismatch for the Owls big men. Forward Kelvin Penn fouled out in just 12 minutes of action, while Andre Mattison finished with four fouls.
FAU shot a poor 10-of-17 (58.8%) from the free-throw line, which was bruised by Greg Gantt’s 5-of-9 effort.
Gantt – who ranks third in the conference in free-throw shooting percentage at 81.6% – is usually a staple at the line, but the guard uncharacteristically missed a foul shot in the closing moments of regulation that could have secured a win.
“We were awful, especially at the times when we had to make them,” head coach Mike Jarvis said. “Your percentage doesn’t mean anything unless you make them when the game is on the line. Unfortunately when they get some pressure like the other night too many guys – specifically Greg (Gantt) missed too many free throws.”
Gantt finished with a team-high 22 points, and now has scored 20 or more points in 11-straight games. Stefan Moody added 12 points of his own, marking the sixth game in a row in which he has reached double-digits in scoring.
Together the duo was combined for just 6-of-15 three-point shooting, as the team shot 35% from downtown. FAU is now 1-8 this season when shooting 35% or worse from three-point range.
Moody turned the ball over a team-high six times, while reserve guard Jackson Trapp finished with six assists.
Center Dragan Sekelja strung together another strong outing, tallying 8 points and 7 rebounds. The junior has now made an impact in back-to-back games, but still has room for improvement.
“He’s (Sekelja) is playing better, but better isn’t good enough. He’s got to play a lot better than he’s playing, but he is playing harder,” Jarvis said.
Sekelja has seen his minutes increase over the last two contests after having gone through a stretch in which he was sparingly used in the rotation. His new role should continue on the teams two-game road swing to Arkansas, as forward Chris Bryant will be limited with a mouth injury.
Jarvis feels as if his team has put in a strong week of practice, but that doesn’t always reflect on the scoreboard.
“I thought we had a good practice leading up to the North Texas game, but that didn’t turn out how we wanted it,” Jarvis said.
Arkansas-Little Rock should prove to be another test for the squad, as they are just 3-7 in games away from home this season. The Trojans play in a hostile environment and are near perfect at home this season.
“They have been very good at home and we’re playing them on the road,” Jarvis said. “The biggest thing with them is they got good players who play much more inspired when they are at home.”
Arkansas-Little Rock at a Glance
With a 12-9 (6-4) record, the Trojans currently stand as the top team in the Sun Belt Conference West Division standings.
Having been selected to finish third in the division in the preseason conference polls, UALR has exceeded those expectations and has won three of their past four games.
Last Saturday they took down Western Kentucky on the road, to give the program a notable sweep over the Hilltoppers. Josh Hagins scored a team-high 14 points while handing out six assists, as the Trojans rallied from a halftime deficit to win 59-54.
Hagins – a true freshman guard – has been consistent over the past five games and is averaging 12.6 points per contest and 5.6 assists.
As a team, the Trojans spread the ball around as well as anyone in the league and rank second in the conference with an average of 12.9 assists per game.
“I thought we did an excellent job of sharing the basketball,” head coach Steve Shields said last week. “You have a group of guys that don’t care who gets the credit, they all want to be something bigger than themselves and that’s what’s encouraging about this team as we have progressed.”
Hagins leads the team in assists while fellow freshman John Gillon has also distributed the ball well. Gillon is the team’s second leading scorer averaging 10.8 points per game, but has missed the last five contests with a knee injury. The guard isn’t expected to play on Thursday night, which means others will have to contribute.
One player who should accept more of the workload is junior Will Neighbour. A native of England, Neighbour was selected to the preseason all-conference first-team and is averaging a team-high 11.0 points a game. At 6’10” 219 pounds, the forward has the size and moves to give the FAU frontcourt problems.
The other individual down-low is sophomore forward Michael Javes, who has the ability to score when given the opportunity. In the team’s win over Florida International earlier this month he tied a team-high 15 points in a limited amount of minutes.
“I thought he (Javes) was very good - he was aggressive at the rim. We want Mike dunking it as much as he can,” Shields said. “He continues to get better.”
Javes – a native of Colombia – can rebound and block shots. The combination of him and Neighbour should provide an interesting matchup for the Owls forwards.
As a team the Trojans are shooting 43.5% on the season, which ranks second in the league. The team is 8-1 this season in games when the shoot 46.2% or better.
UALR is 10-1 this season when playing at home and a perfect 5-0 in conference games at the Jack Stephens Center.
Owl's Nest Prediction
FAU will be taking on one of this season’s top teams in the conference in a hostile environment on the road.
The one advantage that the squad will have going for them is the absence of Gilon in the Trojans backcourt. Without his scoring, UALR will need to spread the ball around – but that’s something that they do well.
The Trojans are pegged as a better team in scoring and defense, so the Owls will need to generate some turnovers on the defensive end of the court to garnish a win.
Gantt and Moody will once again be called on to score, but this one should come down to how the whole team shoots the ball.
We see this one close for the first half, but expect UALR to win their fourth straight game at home.