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story.lead_photo.caption UALR forward Kris Bankston (32) and the Trojans play Stephen F. Austin today at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock. - Photo by Mitchell PE Masilun

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock men's basketball team has much to correct.

After losing consecutive games to the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff and the University of Central Arkansas, UALR will begin a four-game homestand at 3 p.m. today against Sam Houston State in the Jack Stephens Center.

In 2017, Sam Houston State defeated the Trojans 57-55 in Huntsville, Texas, in the teams' first meeting since 1996.

The Trojans (3-4) will need their big men to stay on the floor in order to fix one of their most glaring issues through seven games: Foul trouble.

In UALR's three victories, sophomore forward Kris Bankston, freshman center Nikola Maric and freshman forward Kamani Johnson have combined to average 28.0 points and 7.3 fouls.

In the team's four losses, the three produced 20.1 points and 13.0 fouls, an average of 4.3 fouls per player.

Bankston, Maric and Johnson have fouled out eight total times, seven times in losses.

"We're young and we're not very smart right now," said UALR Coach Darrell Walker. "We just have to keep working."

Bankston fouled out with 12:27 remaining in the second half of UALR's 78-65 loss Wednesday in Conway against UCA. With four fouls, Maric played seven minutes, his third game this season with seven or fewer minutes played.

"I don't know. We've shown them film. We've broken it down," Walker said. "We're showing it to them. Part of it is being young and part of it is not learning to play smart. We have to play smart."

The Trojans were without starting freshman point guard Markquis Nowell (sprained ankle), redshirt junior guard Deondre Burns (ankle) and sophomore guard Damir Hadzic (wrist) against the Bears. Nowell is a game-time decision for today's game, the first of a doubleheader with UALR's women following at 5:30 p.m. against Western Kentucky University.

Hindered by a limited bench and foul trouble, the Trojans also produced one of their worst shooting performances Wednesday.

UALR shot 19 percent (4-21) from the free-throw line, more than 30 percent below their previous worst outing from the line at 41.2 percent (7-17) against Nevada on Nov. 16.

The Trojans have shot better than 70 percent at the line once in their past five games. UALR's 83.9 percent clip (26-31) against Howard on Friday is its highest mark of the season.

UALR is shooting 55.7 percent from the free-throw line this season.

"We didn't shoot the ball well," Walker said. "It's a game of make or miss in every league. We shoot 40 percent. They shoot 50 percent. The bigger thing is, they shoot 70 percent from the free-throw line and we shoot 19 percent. It's going to be hard to win anywhere."

UALR women to host WKU

The matchup with Western Kentucky (3-6) in one of two home games for the UALR women in December.

UALR (2-4) will host Kansas State University on Dec. 8 before it hits the road for three consecutive games at Tulsa on Dec. 17, Memphis on Dec. 21 and Missouri State on Dec. 30.

The Trojans were defeated 98-63 Wednesday by No. 6 Mississippi State.

They have not played Sam Houston State since 2014, before the Lady Toppers left the Sun Belt Conference for Conference USA.

Sports on 12/01/2018

Print Headline: UALR needs big men on court more; basketball team to begin 4-game homestand


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