Arkansas-Little Rock (8-6) at Louisiana (5-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 29, 8:15 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cajundome (12,800) -- Lafayette, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: UALR 7-1, Louisiana 4-2. Away Record: UALR 0-4, Louisiana 1-7. Neutral Record: UALR 1-1, Louisiana 0-0. Conference Record: UALR 2-1, Louisiana 1-2. Series Record: Louisiana leads, 21-16.
GAME NOTES: The Trojans of Arkansas-Little Rock aim for their first true road win of the season on Saturday, as they challenge the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns in Sun Belt Conference action at the Cajundome in Lafayette.
UALR has been out of action now for a full week since bowing to South Alabama in conference play, 77-62. The defeat was not only the third in the last three outings for the Trojans, it was also the first in conference play for a team which is 0-4 in true road dates thus far in 2012-13.
As for the Ragin' Cajuns, they were matched up against Arkansas State in league play just two nights ago and were handed an 87-80 setback, the third in the last four contests. Like UALR, the Cajuns have also had trouble on the road this season with just one win in eight chances, but at home the team is a much more respectable 4-2.
In a series that dates back to 1978, Louisiana own a 21-16 advantage over UALR entering this contest. However, the Trojans won the most recent meeting last February with a narrow 72-70 final, about three weeks after the Cajuns delivered a resounding 68-49 win in the first meeting of the season.
UALR took an early lead against South Alabama last weekend, up by six points less than three minutes into the meeting, but the Trojans shot only 38.2 percent from the floor for the entire outing and turned the ball over 21 times which the Jaguars traded in for 27 points. John Gillon accounted for 14 points off the bench for the visitors, followed by Will Neighbour and Kemy Osse with 11 points apiece, the former also clearing a team-best nine rebounds in the setback. In an attempt to spread the wealth, the Trojans have just two players scoring in double figures at the moment, Gillon (11.7 ppg) and Neighbour (11.1 ppg) and still they are outscoring the competition by almost three points per contest. Defensively, UALR has held the opposition to just 28.0 percent shooting behind the 3-point line, one of the best efforts in the country right now.
Like the Trojans in their last game, Louisiana grabbed an early and brief lead in their meeting with Arkansas State at home on Thursday, but then the team allowed the visitors to put together a 13-0 scoring run and that was the end of the competition. Elfrid Payton generated 20 points, six rebounds and five assists, but he shot just 9-of-24 from the field and was charged with five of the unit's 15 turnovers as well. Alan-Michael Thompson chipped in 13 points, Shawn Long 11 and Josh Soto 10 points in the losing cause. As someone who can seemingly do it all for the Ragin' Cajuns, Payton is putting up 13.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg and handing out 4.9 apg, but still this is a group that is four games under .500 already. Long, in his first year with the program, is close to averaging a double-double with 16.7 ppg and 9.5 rpg, both of which pace Louisiana.
With Payton and Long taking care of business for the Cajuns, the chances of UALR getting that elusive first road win of the season on Saturday becomes more and more of an issue, and probably won't happen.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 71, Arkansas-Little Rock 66
12/29 10:43:19 ET