The University of Central Arkansas Bears return to the Farris Center on Saturday night for just the fourth time this season after a successful West Coast road trip, their second of this young season.
The Bears (5-5) blasted Pac-12 California 96-69 on Wednesday night in Berkeley, Calif., after falling 78-76 to San Francisco on Monday night. UCA also put a scare into another West Coast team last month, taking No. 20 UCLA to overtime before losing 106-101 at Pauley Pavilion.
The Bears hope to carry that momentum into Saturday’s matchup with the Trojans (2-6), who are coming off a double overtime loss to Oral Roberts at home on Saturday. They beat the Bears, 71-65, on Nov. 29 at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock in the first meeting between the in-state rivals.
UCA enters Saturday’s game as the No. 2 scoring team in the Southland Conference, averaging 83.2 points per game, and the top 3-point shooting team at 40.2 percent from beyond the arc. Senior guard Jordan Howard is leading the SLC in scoring (23.9 points per game), while freshman center Hayden Koval is tied for first in the league in blocked shots (1.9 per game).
Howard is the active career leader in the nation in three-pointers made with 311 and is the No. 2 active career scorer with 1,882 career points. His three-point total is a school record and is tied for second all-time in the Southland and his point total is third behind Clifton Bush and Wally Love in UCA history.
Fellow senior Mathieu Kamba topped the 1,000-point scoring mark earlier this season as the 19th player in school history to achieve that goal. He is also 12th in career rebounding with 549.
The Trojans are led by sophomore guard Andre Jones, who averages 13.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Jones scored 24 points in Little Rock’s earlier win. The Trojans overcame an 11-point halftime deficit by shooting 51.7 percent from the field in the second half.
UCA had four players in double figures against Little Rock, including Howard with 12, junior Thatch Unruh and sophomore Darraja Parnell with 11 each and Koval with 10. UCA battled some foul trouble and ended up with 21 fouls to Little Rock’s 11. The Trojans shot 25 free throws to UCA’s 15. Neither team shot well from the perimeter, with UCA hitting just 6 of 20 from three-point range and Little Rock 6 of 23.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the Farris Center.
UCA will take next week off for final exams before resuming play with road trips to Morehead (Ky.) State on Dec. 17 and to Oregon on Dec. 20. The Bears open Southland Conference play on Dec. 28, hosting Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.