Darrell Walker was vehement Saturday when expressing that he wanted his team to finish the regular season strong with a victory over Georgia State, even though the Sun Belt regular-season championship and No. 1 seed in the conference tournament already were secure.
In response, Walker said his team turned in "one of the worst games that we played all year" on the defensive end as the University of Arkansas at Little Rock suffered an 89-70 defeat in Atlanta on Tuesday.
Georgia State (19-12, 12-8) shot 50.9% from the floor, drained 9 of 18 from long range and had 20 assists on 28 made shots.
Walker also was displeased with the Trojans' 28 of 46 night from the foul line (60.9%) and 16 turnovers.
"I kind of just sat back and crossed my legs and said, 'Well maybe we need this one -- a good butt-kicking,' " Walker told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Wednesday. "And I meant it. I told my staff there, and I just sat there.
"This is still a young basketball team. I told them that Georgia State was playing for something."
Walker said sophomore point guard Markquis Nowell and junior guard Jaizec Lottie are each dealing with hamstring injuries. Nowell, who missed time earlier this season with a hamstring injury, played seven minutes Tuesday. Lottie did not play. Walker said Nowell's injury isn't as serious as his first one this season, and both guards will be re-evaluated in a few days.
Georgia State, which Walker called "the fastest team" in the Sun Belt, grabbed the No. 4 seed in the Sun Belt Tournament, assuring itself of a bye in the first and second rounds before it hosts a quarterfinal game Wednesday.
The winner of that game will meet UALR (21-10, 15-5) in the semifinals March 14 at 11:30 a.m. in New Orleans at the Smoothie King Center, so there's a real possibility the Trojans could see the Panthers in their next game.
"Now my job is to regroup my team, give them a couple of days off and regroup, and get ready to take off to New Orleans [next] Thursday," Walker said. "It's getting ready to be a whole new season now."
The Trojans will have a full 10 days off by the time the Sun Belt semifinals roll around. Walker said he plans on holding a scrimmage Saturday at 11 a.m. to simulate the Trojans' early semifinal game in New Orleans, and there likely will be another scrimmage Wednesday.
The Trojans won't practice again until Friday.
"I want to get away for a while and just unwind and recharge my batteries, let [the team] get away and recharge. And schoolwork, they need to concentrate on that because we'll be gone [next] Thursday and Friday," Walker said. "And then we'll go back at it real hard Friday."
Aiming for 4 seed
The UALR women's basketball team is in a tight battle for the fourth seed with two home games remaining.
The Trojans (11-16, 9-7 Sun Belt) host Troy (23-4, 14-2) today at the Jack Stephens Center at 6:30 p.m. before facing South Alabama (13-15, 8-8) on Saturday at 2 p.m. for senior day.
The top three seeds in the conference tournament are locked up for Coastal Carolina, Troy and Texas-Arlington, but that fourth spot is up for grabs. UALR is tied for fourth with Louisiana-Lafayette (16-11, 9-7), and South Alabama is a game back in sixth.
UALR already beat South Alabama in the season's first meeting Feb. 22 -- the day Coach Joe Foley reached 800 career victories -- and the Trojans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Louisiana-Lafayette from their 59-44 road victory Feb. 1.
Securing that fourth seed would give UALR home-court advantage in the first round as well as the next day's quarterfinal round should the Trojans advance. The Sun Belt women's tournament begins Tuesday, and the semifinals and championship game in New Orleans are March 14-15.
"Coach Foley hasn't said anything about it, but of course, as seniors, me and [Sydney Chastain] have been telling the younger kids, like hey, 'We want to get a home game because we don't want to have to go and travel,' " senior guard Kyra Collier said. "I mean, it's very important that we lock in this week and mentally prepare."
Vying for 6 seed
The Arkansas State University women's basketball team also has two home games left before the Sun Belt Tournament.
ASU hosts South Alabama (13-15, 8-8) today at 7 p.m. in Jonesboro before it squares off with Troy (23-4, 14-2) on Saturday at 4 p.m.
ASU (10-17, 7-9) could jump South Alabama in the standings should the Red Wolves win their last two games and the Jaguars drop their last two.
A 9-9 finish in Sun Belt play, coupled with South Alabama finishing 8-10, would secure ASU the sixth seed in the Sun Belt Tournament.
Sports on 03/05/2020
Print Headline: Finale displeases Walker