Central Arkansas (7-17) at Louisiana Tech (12-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 18th, 4:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas Assembly Center (8,000) -- Ruston, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: UCA 5-6, LaTech 8-4. Away Record: UCA 2-11, LaTech 3-9. Neutral Record: UCA 0-0, LaTech 1-1. Conference Record: UCA 2-10, LaTech 3-7. Series Record: Central Arkansas leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Bears of Central Arkansas hit the road in search of just their third victory of the season away from home, as they encounter the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs as part of the annual BracketBusters competition this afternoon at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston.
Since defeating Northwestern State and Nicholls State in the middle of January, the Bears have hit the skids and dropped eight straight decisions. The most recent of those setbacks came on Wednesday night in a 76-59 final at Sam Houston State in Southland Conference play. As a result, UCA is now all alone in last place in the East Division of the conference with just two wins in 12 opportunities under the direction of head coach Corliss Williamson.
As for the Bulldogs, they last took the floor two nights ago against North Dakota at home, a matchup that resulted in a 58-53 win for the hosts. The victory snapped a four-game slide, but still the team is two games below .500 overall at a mere 12-14.
UCA won the only previous meeting between the programs, a 35-29 decision way back in 1941.
Against the Bearkats on the road three nights ago, the Bears had trouble shooting the ball from all over the floor, connecting on just 31.9 percent from the field, 7-of-24 beyond the arc and 8-of-14 at the free-throw line. Jarvis Garner paced the group with 16 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Robert Crawford tacked on 12 points in the setback. Garner, the leading scorer in two of the last three outings for the group, is responsible for 9.6 ppg and is also tops with 6.3 rpg, his point production trailing only LaQuentin Miles who is pouring in 15.5 ppg as the lone double-digit scorer on the roster. Miles, a 49.3 percent shooter from the floor, could be doing even more damage if not for the fact that he's making just 54.5 percent of his attempts at the free-throw line.
The offense for the Bulldogs just couldn't get it together on Thursday night, but down the stretch, when it counted most, the team put the pieces together for the five-point win. Raheem Appleby led the way with 19 points, followed by Trevor Gaskins and Brandon Gibson with 12 and 10 points, respectively, but LaTech was lucky to escape after shooting a mere 39.6 percent from the floor, 6-of-20 beyond the arc and 14-of-23 at the free-throw line. Kenneth Smith stepped up with 10 rebounds off the bench. Smith might be a bit player for the Bulldogs when it comes to scoring, contributing a mere 3.4 ppg, but he showed that he can do the dirty work in the paint and in fact leads the program in assists with 100 mostly as a reserve. Appleby (13.9 ppg) has come on lately as a viable scoring threat and the Bulldogs certainly need that as they shoot only 40.7 percent from the floor.
With no rest for the wicked, the Bulldogs are being pressed back into service after not performing very strong a couple nights ago. Luckily, Central Arkansas isn't a team that is going to rough up LaTech, so at least the hosts can count on a win today.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 64, Central Arkansas 55
02/18 10:30:51 ET