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Injuries give others court time

by Mitchell Gladstone | December 8, 2021 at 2:51 a.m.

It's never ideal to play shorthanded, much less so when you're going up against the No. 10 team in the nation.

That was the case, however, when the University of Arkansas at Little Rock met the University of Arkansas on Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville. The Trojans had only seven players available, with their most notable absence being standout big man Nikola Maric, who will be out multiple weeks with a hamstring injury suffered Nov. 22 against Northern Illinois.

"We missed him [against Arkansas]," UALR Coach Darrell Walker said of Maric. "We can throw the ball into him and he can score or get fouled down in the post. We didn't have that option, and that's just the way it is. We're just trying to figure out how we're going to win some basketball games."

The Trojans (4-5) have one victory since taking three straight at home to open the season -- two of which came against non-Division I opponents. All five of UALR's losses have been on the road, and two of them were against unbeaten teams Colorado State and Arkansas.

But the Trojans have a shot to get back to .500 tonight as they host Missouri State (4-4) at the Jack Stephens Center.

But they'll have to do it without the services of Maric, C.J. White and DeAntoni Gordon, who are each averaging double-digit minutes per game this season.

"Hopefully some of that competitive spirit we had in Fayetteville, we can bring down here for two games at home," Walker said, noting that UALR was within single digits of the Razorbacks in the final 10 minutes.

The biggest beneficiary of the Trojans' injuries has been guard Isaiah Palermo. The junior from Kissimmee, Fla., made nine combined starts over his first two seasons at UALR but has started four games already this season and is leading the team with 12.9 points per game despite averaging 23.8 minutes.

Palmero posted 17 points and 10 rebounds at Arkansas and has shown his coach more than enough for Walker to keep Palermo a significant part of the Trojans' rotation when some of their key pieces return over the coming weeks.

"He's started to show some leadership out there on the court," Walker said of Palermo. "He's not afraid, he's rebounding the ball, he's fast. He's just doing a little bit of everything, man, and we need that from him."

Arkansas State women

Action Jackson

Arkansas Coach Matt Daniel and his team were headed for the airport for the first time in more than two years Tuesday morning as they'll visit Utah State (4-3) tonight. It'll be the Red Wolves' fifth game away from Jonesboro this season -- going 1-3 on the road thus far.

As has been the case much of the season, ASU (4-5) will lean on forward Trinitee Jackson, who has emerged as a dominant force in the paint this season. The Dallas native is averaging teams highs of 12.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

Some of that is the result of playing more. Jackson is at a career-best 21.0 minutes per game through nine games after averaging 6.8 minutes two years ago and 15.4 last season.

"That's a credit to her and her mentality and what's she's doing discipline-wise with her body," Daniel said of Jackson's increased workload. "She's playing with great poise and patience in the post, reading double teams as she's starting to get doubled."

In the Red Wolves' home loss to Northwestern (La.) State last week, Jackson posted her fourth double-double of the season with 20 points and 14 rebounds.

But ASU can't solely rely on their post presence. The Red Wolves have continued to rotate at the guard position, and Daniel said he'll have three freshmen in his backcourt with Lauryn Pendleton, Jade Upshaw and Mailyn Wilkerson among his starting five against the Aggies.

"We're really, really young," Daniel said. "We've got good talent. You can look at our numbers and our balance and see that. But we're still trying to build culture -- some things you think you're past and you're not. We're almost through that, but culture is always evolving."

UAPB men

Going viral

In a moment that got national attention last Wednesday night, UAPB Coach Solomon Bozeman put his players on the baseline -- in the middle of a game.

But as Bozeman explained, it was something he'd discussed with his team well before that trip to Iowa State.

"After the Arkansas Baptist game, our staff didn't feel like we communicated and played as hard as we should," Bozeman said, adding that his team had a 40-minute workout following the Golden Lions' win that night. "We basically came up it as a group and a staff that if we felt like [the players] weren't communicating at a high level, the guys would run.

"The guys were OK with it. The staff was OK with it. We agreed to it, so that's what you saw when those guys ran."

The video, which was posted to Twitter during the game and currently has more than 700,000 views, last only 11 seconds but shows multiple UAPB players sprinting back from midcourt before heading into a huddle during a timeout early in the second half.

It came immediately after the Cyclones had scored on a breakaway dunk, a possession that reflected a lack of communication from Bozeman's perspective.

He didn't realize until Thursday morning that his team had gone viral, and Bozeman said Tuesday he's unlikely to have his team run during a game again. Part of that is because of the attention it received last week and part of it is because he learned from officials that his players have to stay on their side of the court during a timeout.

Furthermore, Bozeman said hopes there doesn't have to be more moments like that as the Golden Lions (1-9) close nonconference play this month. They'll play just their second home game of the season tonight against Arkansas State (5-2).

"[We just need to] compete at a high level for 40 minutes and do the tough things," Bozeman said. "If we do those things, I think we have a chance to win every game we play."

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