After picking up a 78-65 win over Little Rock on Nov. 28 at the Farris Center, the University of Central Arkansas now holds an 18.5 to 3.5 lead in the Governor’s I-40 Showdown.
Another four points are up for grabs and possibly what is being called the Governor’s Trophy in a return battle Saturday in Little Rock.
With 42 total points in the Governor’s I-40 Showdown competition, the team who wins the trophy has to get a minimum of 22 points, which UCA can achieve with a win Saturday.
However, Saturday’s game comes off the heels of one of the worst games it has played in recent memory, but it came against a perennial NCAA Championship contender.
An 86-41 loss to the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky, wasn’t what the team wanted especially shooting 25 percent from the field, while Louisville shot 51.7 percent.
At the end of the season, the loss to Louisville doesn’t hold much weight in regards to conference play.
Neither does Saturday’s game against Little Rock, but the bragging rights are there.
In the previous matchup, the Bears and Trojans were tied at halftime but poor shooting from the free-throw line in the second half caused Little Rock to fight harder to be in the game.
Shooting 4 of 21 from the free-throw line in the second half doomed the Trojans, leading UCA coming away with a win.
Little Rock beat Sam Houston State 79-52 at home and fell to Missouri Valley Conference Bradley on Dec. 4 since that loss at the Farris Center.
Despite the play of Little Rock this season, UCA coach Russ Pennell credited Trojans coach Darrell Walker.
“Little Rock has a nice team,” he said. “Darrell has done a great job of putting together some talented guys. They went home Saturday and beat the brakes off Sam Houston. We feel like that win over the Trojans was a big for us.”
The UCA-Little Rock game will be the third of four home games for the Trojans, while the Bears are playing their second of five road games before coming back home Dec. 30.
UCA is 3-5 on the season but Pennell said he is pleased with how the team has played.
“I’m happy with how the team is coming around, especially how guys are assuming their roles,” he said at the Dec. 3 Bearbackers luncheon. “We’re playing well together and have a lot of balance. We’re pleased with where we’re at at this point.”
The Bears travel Saturday to Little Rock to take on the Trojans at the Jack Stephens Center.
Tipoff is 5:30 p.m.