Happy New Year to all A Sea of Blue readers, and welcome to the first game preview of 2012. Tonight's game sets the Kentucky Wildcats against the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans at Rupp Arena West, otherwise known as Freedom Hall in Louisville. Fair warning - I will be in attendance at tonight's event, so if you see a balding, middle aged man decked out in Kentucky blue and cheering wildly for the 'Cats, you never know, it might be your humble correspondent.
It also might be somebody else. I'm about as nondescript as they come.
Anyway, to tonight's affair. Here's what you need to know about the UALR Trojans:
|Need-To-know Information – Arkansas Little Rock Trojans|
|Location||Little Rock, Ark.|
|School Colors||Maroon, Silver & Black|
|Conference||Sun Belt (West Division)|
|Head Coach||Steve Shields|
|HC Record @ UALR||137-122|
|HC Record Overall||213-172|
|2010-11 Overall record||19-17|
|Conference Finish||7-9 (5th in West)|
|Last NCAA Appearance||2011, 4th appearance|
|Last NIT Appearance||1996 (3rd overall)|
UALR assistant coach Joe Klein might be familiar to some of you, as he is a former NBA player that played from 1985-2000 for various and sundry NBA teams, and wears a championship ring from the 1998 Chicago Bulls team that famously featured Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen.
ULAR has struggled on the road and at home much of this season, but they convincingly beat a decent Denver team on the road their last time out. UALR dominated Denver on the glass much as Kentucky dominated Louisville last Saturday despite the fact that they are a generally poor offensive rebounding team, and shot the ball extremely well.
|24||Ben Dillard||F||Sixth Man||6-2||190||Freshman||37.0||15.6||110.4||50.0||10.2||2.0||13.6||2.1||0.0|
|44||Michael Javes||F||Major Res.||6-10||223||Freshman||35.3||20.7||78.5||42.5||15.4||6.9||2.2||0.3||9.6|
|2||Tramar Sutherland||G||Major Res.||6-3||199||Senior||34.2||18.6||88.6||36.1||9.2||10.6||10.2||2.3||0.0|
|55||Gus Leeper||F||Unavailable||6-9||229||Sophomore||Out with injury|
|1||Casey Wilmath||G||Unavailable||6-2||156||Freshman||Probable redshirt|
|11||Tre`von Wilkerson||G||Unavailable||5-7||145||Freshman||Probable redshirt|
|8||Questionable due to injury|
Four Factors to Winning:
Generally speaking, this is likely to be an uncompetitive game. UALR suffered a significant injury to promising forward Gus Leeper over the summer, and although others have tried to pick up the slack, their success has been marginal at best. Worse, leading scorer and rebounder Will Neighbor suffered a shoulder injury in the last game against Denver and is questionable for tonight's game.
Where UALR can give Kentucky trouble is in the fact that they are a good defensive rebounding team and get to the line quite a lot. I haven't seen UALR play this year, but they appear to be mostly a man team who also uses zone some of the time. I suspect that if they use the zone at all, we will see that tonight versus Kentucky.
The Trojans do not get an inordinate amount of their points from three. They have decent size and play a pretty conventional game, but they have been hotter lately from the perimeter and are likely to put up more shots from there tonight than they normally do.