Sun Belt Notes From Round 1: UALR Sets Up Third Meeting With Arkansas State

by Jim Harris  on Sunday, Mar. 6, 2011 12:13 am  

UALR's Chuck Guy drives the middle against South Alabama in the Sun Belt Tournament opening round. (Photo by Mark Wagner)

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HOT SPRINGS - UALR beat South Alabama at its own game, dominating the offensive glass and ripping apart the Jaguars' full-court pressure while getting a career-high 28 points from senior Solomon Bozeman to win 82-68 and advance to a Sunday matchup with Arkansas State in the Sun Belt Conference men's tournament in Hot Springs.

The Trojans and Red Wolves meet at 8:45 p.m. Sunday on the court in Summit Arena. Arkansas State defeated UALR twice in the regular season, but A-State will be without sophomore guard and top perimeter defender Trey Finn, who tore his left patella tendon in practice earlier this week.

UALR, which lost to South Alabama 92-79 last week in Mobile, Ala., played perhaps its best game of the season by establishing its defensive presence from the outset. UALR had doubled up 12-6 in the game's first eight minutes, as Bozeman began warming up with three straight baskets. But when UAR had doubled up the Jaguars 30-15 with 5:33 left in the half, there was reason for shock in the small Convention Center court area.

About the only thing the Trojans did wrong in the first half was foul too much, as they carried a 39-28 lead into intermission.

South Alabama was within nine a couple of times with a little more than eight minutes left, but Bozeman and UALR blew the game open with a 14-4 run and eventually led by as much as 20.

"We had no answer for him," South Alabama Coach Ronnie Arrow said. "We tried to get our guys pumped up on stopping him and stuff and we just had no answer, we just had no answer."

South Alabama was the fourth seed out of the Sun Belt East. UALR was the fifth seed from the West. On paper, and based on South Alabama's win last week, the most points UALR had given up all season, the Jaguars figured to advance to play Arkansas State, the co-champ of the West Division and top seed from that side.

Instead, the roles were completely reversed from the teams' first game, Arrow said. UALR brought the sense of urgency; Arrow said four of his players, including starters Martino Brock and Gary Redus, were sick during the day and required IV's.

"If you look at the stats, the stats were about turned from when they played at our place," Arrow said. The assists, the rebounds, the effort. They had a bigger effort. We had the effort at our place and just didn't have it here."

No one outside of Bozeman scored in double figures for UALR, but all 11 players scored points. Marion Louzeiro led UALR with 9 rebounds, and Eric Kibi had 7, and UALR won the board battle 39-28. UALR had eight offensive rebounds in the second half that usually resulted in second-chance points. When South Alabama tried to press after made baskets or clock-stoppages, it usually backfired with perfect press offense execution by the Trojans.

"We did a good job in our transition defense," UALR Coach Steve Shields said. [Allyn] Cooks is hard to handle in the open floor, but our guys were committed to getting back on defense. We also did a sound job on the glass. We shot the basketball well."

Boseman hit 8 of 15 field goals and hit 10 of 11 from the line. South Alabama put UALR in the double-bonus with more than half of the second period left to play, and UALR never faltered at the foul line, hitting 25 of 30 attempts. USA hit 11 of 23 from the line.



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