This Week in the Sun Belt
Right now, the mission of teams in the league is to make sure Georgia State doesn’t run away with everything. The Panthers (5-0) have won nine in a row and have a two game lead in the loss column. Here’s what’s happening this week.
ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK (9-9, 4-2) Thurs: Texas State, Sat: at Arkansas State–The Trojans won a tight one in Bowling Green, then got embarrassed in Atlanta, where Georgia State scored 59 points…in the first half. Steve Shields’ squad won’t have to worry much about transition defense Thursday, but a tough assignment awaits in Jonesboro on Saturday.
ARKANSAS STATE (10-7, 3-3) Sat: vs. UALR – What a heartbreaking week for the Red Wolves this past week, losing a pair of one pointers at Georgia State and at Western Kentucky (in overtime). Now A-State is just 3-3 in league play. They have the bye on Thursday before hosting rival UALR on Saturday. That’ll be a big game for the home team.
GEORGIA STATE (12-6. 5-0) – Thur: at Louisiana, Sat: at ULM – The Panthers continued their red hot play with two home wins last week: a tight one against Arkansas State and a blowout win over UALR. GSU is already 2-0 in league play on the road, with a blowout win over WKU at Diddle Arena. They’ll get a stern test Thursday night against the Ragin’ Cajuns and had better not overlook an improving ULM squad on Saturday.
LOUISIANA (12-6, 3-2) – Thur: Georgia State, Sat: WKU – The Ragin’ Cajuns have a big week this week as they host the league leaders Thursday and then face the team they love to not love in an ESPN2 telecast Saturday afternoon. Thursday’s game features the two highest scoring teams in the Sun Belt. That one will be fun. Louisiana is 8-0 at home. That gets a stern test this week.
UL MONROE (6-7, 3-2) – Thur: WKU, Sat.:Georgia State – The Warhawks raised an eyebrow or two last week, getting conference road wins at Troy and South Alabama. They’ll try to keep the momentum going at Fant-Ewing this week. ULM has played WKU very tough in Monroe at times. That’s a big game for Keith Richard’s program. Saturday’s matchup could be a tough one, although ULM’s ability to offensive rebound could give the Panthers problems.
SOUTH ALABAMA (7-12, 1-5) – Thur: Bye, Sat: at UT Arlington – The Jags finally got in the win column with a home victory against Louisiana last Thursday, but fell to ULM at the Mitchell Center on Saturday. They’ll take Thursday off before taking on a UTA team that will try to force the tempo. It’ll be interesting to see what Augustine Rubit can do against the UTA front line.
UT ARLINGTON (7-10, 2-3) – Thur: Troy, Sat: South Alabama – The Mavericks got some good news last week as leading scorer Reger Dowell returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing two weeks with a bruised quad. He scored sixteen coming off the bench at Texas State. His return should be a boost to the Mavs and it comes just in time with two home games this week.
TEXAS STATE (5-13. 1-4) Thur: at UALR, Sat: Troy – The Bobcats scored just 48 points in their loss to UTA last week, but the good news is, they are coming closer to playing Danny Kaspar’s brand of basketball. They’ll face an angry UALR team on Thursday before returning home to play Troy on Saturday. It won’t be a surprise if we see a low scoring game on Saturday. They should have a great crowd there, since they’re handing out Danny Kaspar moustaches.
TROY (7-11, 2-4) Thur: at UTA, Sat: at Texas State – If you can figure this team out, please notify the rest of the Sun Belt. The Trojans followed a sweep of the state of Arkansas by losing two at home to the State of Louisiana. Will being back on the road mean good things for Phil Cunningham’s squad? They’ll have a chance in both games this week.
WESTERN KENTUCKY (11-7,. 3-2) Free basketball in Bowling Green last week as WKU split two games, Their overtime loss to UALR was without leading scorer T. J. Price, who was suspended for a game for a violation of team rules. Saturday it was double overtime in a win over Arkansas State. The Hilltoppers have the Louisiana swing this week. They can’t make the mistake of looking ahead to the Saturday game at the Cajundome. ULM is capable if WKU isn’t ready.