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Rayjon Tucker and Ty Cockfield have three things in common.

No. 1: They each are electrifying scorers.

No. 2: They both have professional potential.

No. 3: They each have bulging muscles.

"Both are pretty high-level scorers," Arkansas State University Coach Mike Balado said. "Both, obviously, can play after college ... It'll be exciting Saturday."

Ahead of Saturday's 5:30 p.m duel at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock, Cockfield's 20.7 points per game leads ASU and is tied for third in the Sun Belt Conference. Tucker's 20.1 points is the highest on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and is fifth in the conference.

Two of the Sun Belt's top five scorers, Cockfield and Tucker are Saturday's headliners.

Putting them side-by-side, Tucker, a redshirt junior, is taller and wider. Cockfield, a senior, is more compact, but equally dangerous.

Any Tucker-Cockfield 1-on-1 matchups may be few on Saturday. A heavy dosage of the 6-5, 210-pound Tucker guarding the 6-0, 185-pound Cockfield or visa versa isn't expected.

Are their offensive styles similar?

"Um, I don't think," Cockfield said. "Us both being athletes, that's probably the most similar thing."

Oddly enough, Balado known of Tucker for many years.

Prior to his hiring in 2017, Balado was an assistant coach at Louisville from 2013-17 when Tucker, a Northside Christian Academy standout from Charlotte, N.C., appeared on his radar.

Tucker spent his freshman and sophomore collegiate seasons at Florida Gulf Coast before redshirting the 2017-18 season and transferring to UALR -- a place where he sought a more substantial role after having to compete for minutes with the Eagles.

Having known him and his style, Balado's largest compliment of Tucker -- who also is averaging 6.4 rebounds per game and is shooting 49.8 percent from the field this season -- is actually many compliments crunched into one.

"He was obviously a high-level scorer," Balado said. "To me, he's one of the most all-around players in the league. He guards people. He rebounds. He doesn't force shots. And he scores 20 a game. That's pretty efficient to me."

What does UALR think about Cockfield?

"Cockfield is a flat-out All-First Team Sun Belt Player, that's for sure," said Trojans Coach Darrell Walker. "He can flat out play."

Cockfield and Tucker share another similarity: Both have been scouted as their team's most threatening offensive weapon all season.

Tucker's size, strength and ability to play four different positions from point guard to power forward make him a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches, Balado said.

Cockfield, who led the Sun Belt with 21.5 points per game prior to ASU's 77-64 loss to Coastal Carolina on Saturday, was held to six points against the Chanticleers and dropped to third in the league's scoring race.

Cockfield has four 30-point games and 13 games of 20 or more points and has been the priority for opposing defenses against the Red Wolves this season.

"I've seen everything," Cockfield said. "I've seen box-and-1s. Doubles, triple teams ... It's just whatever they can go to try to stop me.

"But 20 points a game with double teams? I like to think that's pretty good."

Tucker is a bit of a different problem for UALR's opponents.

According to Walker, there's room for his game to grow exponentially. The version of Tucker this season is only a glimpse into his full potential.

"He's had a solid year," Walker said. "Believe it or not, he could be a lot of better ... There's things he needs to work on. But overall, he's shot the ball well. At times, he's defended well. I think he's an all-conference player. No doubt in my mind."

Tucker is difficult to stop in the transition game. He can leap over a defender or finesse his way to an impressive layup.

"He may be the most explosive guard in this conference, honestly," Cockfield said.

RAYJON TUCKER

R-Jr., 6-5, 210 pounds

Charlotte, N.C., Florida Gulf Coast University

PPG;RPG;APG;FG;3FG;FT

20.1;6.4;1.9;49.8;40.6;78.4

TY COCKFIELD II

Sr.,6-0, 185 pounds

Gainesville, Ga.

PPG;RPG;APG;FG;3FG;FT

20.7;4.1;3.5;43.7;35.5;79.1

Photo by Thomas Metthe
In this file photo UALR’s Rayjon Tucker (left) and Coastal Carolina’s Amidou Bamba fight for a loose ball at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
Photo by Special to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette/JONATHAN BACHMAN
ASU guard Ty Cockfield (0) shoots over ULM guard Michael Ertel (2) during second half action in the first round of the Sunbelt Tournament in in this 2018 file photo.

Sports on 02/01/2019

Print Headline: UALR's Rayjon Tucker, ASU's Ty Cockfield to headline ASU-UALR matchup Saturday

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