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Darrell Walker's pregame message to his University of Arkansas at Little Rock's men's basketball team was simple.

"No excuse," Walker said. "Win."

The Trojans put together their most energized, most disciplined, longest lasting defensive output of the young season in a 79-52 rout of Sam Houston State on Saturday at the Jack Stephens Center.

After two consecutive in-state losses to the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 24 and the University of Central Arkansas on Wednesday, the Trojans (4-4) refused to be dragged down a third time.

"There's only two things, man," said Walker, UALR's first-year coach. "There's winning. And there's misery. Last three or four days, I've been in misery. Right now, I'm very happy."

Behind a fiery defense, 33 points from redshirt junior guard Rayjon Tucker and 20 from junior guard Ryan Pippins, both season highs, the Trojans (4-4) crushed the Bearkats for their largest margin of the victory this season.

"As a whole, I guess we got tired of losing games we should not have lost," Tucker said. "We just came out wanting to win. Just a different mentality."

UALR lived in Sam Houston State's passing lanes. It complicated and frustrated the Bearkats offensively.

The Trojans didn't allow the Bearkats to drive. They swarmed to loose balls, forced 15 turnovers and contested Sam Houston State's three-point attempts, often the only shot the Bearkats could find against UALR's smothering defense.

"We were everywhere," Walker said.

Sam Houston State's offense never found any consistency. The Bearkats (3-6) missed 22 of 27 three-pointers and went 19-for-55 (34.5 percent) from the field.

The Trojans held Sam Houston State to 35.7 percent from the field in the first half and 33.3 percent in the second. It was the full 40-minute defensive effort Walker had yet to see from the Trojans in their first seven games.

"I've been looking for this effort," Walker said.

Tucker, UALR's leading scorer who has scored 20-plus points in four of his previous five games, went 8 for 12 from the field, 4 of 7 from on three-pointers and 13 for 15 from the free-throw line in 37 minutes.

Tucker steered UALR's offense to a 38-25 halftime lead and a 41-point second half to seal a victory in the Trojans' first of four consecutive home games.

"He was very efficient tonight," Walker said. "He can score the ball. He's an NBA, elite athlete, there's no doubt about that. But I'm teaching him how to play the game, how to be under control and how to take good shots."

One game after shooting 19 percent (4-21) from the free-throw line at UCA, the Trojans made 23 of 31 Saturday and shot 47.9 percent from the field on (45.5 percent on three-pointers) against Sam Houston State.

UALR will host Bradley University at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Jack Stephens Center. The Trojans will then host UCA (Saturday) and Miles College on Dec. 11.

LEHIGH 82,

ARKANSAS STATE 70

Ty Cockfield scored a game-high 30 points on 9-of-21 shooting from the floor and two Arkansas State University players had 10 or more rebounds, but the Red Wolves couldn’t stop Lehigh’s hot shooting Saturday at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pa.

The Hawks (5-2) shot 54.4 percent (31 of 57) from the floor, hitting 9 of 16 (56.3 percent) three-pointers and 11 of 14 (78.6percent) free throws. The Red Wolves (2-5) shot 30.7 percent (23 of 75) from the floor, hitting 10 of 29 (34.5 percent) three-pointers, and shot 70 percent (14 of 20) from the free-throw line.

ASU outrebounded Lehigh 48-35, including a 25-5 edge offensively, but the Hawks outscored the Red Wolves 34-22 in the lane. Salif Boudie had a game-high 11 rebounds for ASU and Tristin Walley added 10, including 7 offensively.

Kyle Leufroy scored 20 points to lead Lehigh, while Pat Andree had 14 and Lance Tejada added 12.

SUN BELT MEN

LEHIGH 82, ARKANSAS STATE 70

Ty Cockfield scored a game-high 30 points on 9-of-21 shooting from the floor and two Arkansas State University players had 10 or more rebounds, but the Red Wolves couldn't stop Lehigh's hot shooting Saturday at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pa.

The Hawks (5-2) shot 54.4 percent (31 of 57) from the floor, hitting 9 of 16 (56.3 percent) three-pointers and 11 of 14 (78.6percent) free throws. The Red Wolves (2-5) shot 30.7 percent (23 of 75) from the floor, hitting 10 of 29 (34.5 percent) three-pointers, and shot 70 percent (14 of 20) from the free-throw line.

ASU outrebounded Lehigh 48-35, including a 25-5 edge offensively, but the Hawks outscored the Red Wolves 34-22 in the lane. Salif Boudie had a game-high 11 rebounds for ASU and Tristin Walley added 10, including 7 offensively.

Kyle Leufroy scored 20 points to lead Lehigh, while Pat Andree had 14 and Lance Tejada added 12.

Sports on 12/02/2018

Print Headline: Trojans heed coach's plea, crush Bearkats by 27 points

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