OPINION | WALLY HALL: Trojans ride win streak into important week

A handful of people showed up at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Letterman's Lounge at Arkansas-Little Rock for a press conference with Coach Darrell Walker and players Khalen "KK" Robinson and Makhel Mitchell.

There should have been more people there, but KATV Channel 7's Steve Sullivan, was there and he always legitimizes press conferences.

This is probably the biggest week in men's basketball since Chris Beard was the head coach in 2016 and the Trojans were staring at a school record 29th win in one season.

The Jack Stephens Center was packed and they got the win, won their conference tournament and beat Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Tonight is the beginning of a finale of a season that could end up just like the one did eight years ago, but without the record wins.

Instead, this group of Trojans is playing for their eighth and ninth consecutive wins when they take on Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech, with the first game scheduled for 8 p.m. tonight in the Stephens Center, and yes there are some discounted tickets still available.

They are playing for their 11th win in 12 games.

Win both and they are the No. 1 seed in the Ohio Valley Tournament next week. What settled that was when, in front of a good crowd at the Stephens Center, they beat Morehead State, which had been leading the league but is now tied with UALR and Tenn.-Martin with 12-4 conference records.

The game tonight is big enough that ESPNU is broadcasting it, which is the Trojans' first nationally televised game since 2017.

When Robinson was asked what was the difference in the way Little Rock was playing now and earlier in the season, the senior from Little Rock turned slight and his hands presented Mitchell.

Mitchell and freshman Nikola Milosevic were hurt early. Milosevic is still out.

Everyone should know about the 6-11 Mitchell. He played for the Arkansas Razorbacks last season and since getting healthy and into shape has averaged more than 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots per game. In the Trojans' last win he had 21 points and 14 rebounds.

However, this is not just a one-two punch of former Razorbacks.

Walker has assembled a solid, unselfish team that plays defense like they like it.

There are four Trojans averaging in double figures scoring, and they also have current Ohio Valley Freshman of the Week Jaylen Crocker-Johnson, who has won the award eight times this season.

Graduate transfers Jamir Chaplin and DeAntoni Gordon along with junior transfer Bradley Douglas complete the starting lineup.

On a side note, there's some other athletic success at UALR too. The Trojans men won the OVC Indoor Championship and the women were second. Both should be favored to win the Outdoor championship. The wrestling team is nationally ranked. The men's golf team will be favored to win the OVC and the baseball team is picked to win the league too.

Now through Saturday the focus is the men's basketball program as Joe Foley, the wildly successful women's coach, is going through a rare rebuilding season.

The Trojans are fun to watch. It may have started in Italy in August when they played several exhibition games, and when you travel internationally you learn to trust each other.

The leader is Robinson, who transferred to Texas A&M from Arkansas before deciding he wanted to finish his career at home. He's averaging 16 points per game, 5.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists. And grins when he says he's eating his mom's cooking a lot.

The team and coaches have made this a big time in Little Rock.

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