Men's Hoops Preview: Arkansas Little-Rock @ FAU
UALR (5-13, 1-6) @ FAU (8-10, 4-3)
When: Thursday, Jan. 21st - 7:00PM EST
Where: Boca Raton, Fl - The Burrow
Live Video: None
ESPN 760 Internet Broadcast: Here
Live Stats: None
UALR Team Site: Here
G Solomon Bozeman 14.4 ppg
G Alex Garcia-Mendoza 11.7 ppg
G Matt Mouzy 10.6 ppg
F Wayne Burton 4.3 ppg
F Courtney Jackson 4.4 ppg
G Ray Taylor 15.8 ppg
G Greg Gantt 14.3 ppg
G Alex Tucker 4.4 ppg
F Sanchez Hughley 9.4 ppg
F Brett Royster 9.9 ppg
After winning the first match-up at home, the Owls have dropped the last three against the Trojans and trail 3-1 in the all time series. UALR won last season's meeting 66-59 at FAU Arena.
UALR at a Glance
Talk about a major shift of pace. The Trojans finished last season atop the Western Division for the second straight year in a row with an overall record of 23-8. This year they are 5-13 so far, and winless on the road at 0-9. Some of this can be attributed to injuries.
Senior big man Mike Smith (6-7, 266 lbs) went down with a season ending ACL tear on December 16th against South Alabama. UALR dropped their next six contests after his departure.
Joining him was starting point guard Lionel Foster, who suffered a broken finger against Middle Tennessee on January 9th.
The Trojans defeated Lousiana-Lafayette 76-69 this past Saturday en route to snapping an eight-game losing streak, and picking up their first conference win on the season.
Solomon Bozeman, who has filled in for Foster, led the Trojans with 18 points, while Alex Garcia-Mendoza added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
"I thought the difference tonight was our ability to stay together and show some resiliency and mental toughness. We’ve really shared the basketball well the last two games and I think Solomon has done an excellent job leading this team during that time", said UALR Coach Steve Shields.
Junior guard Ricky Davison is tops in the Sun Belt from long range at 53.5% (23-43), but is seeing just 13.2 minutes per game off the bench.
FAU at a Glance
Embarking on a two game home-stand, the Owls will welcome the first of the Sun Belt's two Arkansas based members in UALR on Thursday.
Florida Atlantic is 3-1 since the insertion of a four guard starting line-up consisting of Ray Taylor, Greg Gantt, Alex Tucker, and Sanchez Hughley.
Tucker hit the game winning shot with just :03 to play last Saturday as FAU upset Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro.
"One of the reasons why I think he made the shot is that he deserved to make the shot. Alex has been practicing well", said Mike Jarvis.
"The bottom line is you comeback and you find a way to win. The team continues to improve. We've got a chance to really help ourselves this week, and build our confidence. I'm excited."
Greg Gantt leads the Owls offensively in Sun Belt play with 16.4 points per game on 48.0% shooting from beyond the arc. His nightly average of 3.4 three's is best in the league.
With 115 dishes on the season, Ray Taylor needs just 25 more to break the all-time FAU freshman record set by Alex Tucker (139).
Brett Royster is currently 12th in the nation with 3.0 swats per outing.
Owl's Nest Prediction
Like the Owl's chances in this one for a number of reasons. They lead in every meaningful stat category aside from points allowed, UALR is crippled in the front court, and team speed is markedly different.
Royster should have another solid showing in blocks. Defensive totals may be one of FAU's best tallies on the year when it's all said and done.
UALR will try to slow it down with deliberate half court sets, but in the end the Owls prevail.