Checking in on the… Sun Belt

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2008

Rick Henderson of The Owl’s Nest is the RTC correspondent for the Sun Belt Conference.

Upset City

Rick Pitino and company found no offensive prowess against the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky (4-2) last Sunday, as WKU handily defeated the #3 Cardinals 68-54 in Nashville.  This game was pegged as a major RPI booster for both the Sun Belt and Western Kentucky, and the Hilltoppers put the pedal to the metal on defense to hold a stunned Cardinal squad to a mere 26.8% FG shooting for the contest.  The win is even more impressive given the roster changes that WKU had to work through in the off season, and marks the first win for WKU against an opponent ranked within the the top three since they knocked off Indiana back on December 28, 1967.

Pitino chalked up the loss to poor practice, but gave the Hilltoppers much deserved credit for their performance:  “Unfortunately for us, we had the worst week of practice that I’ve experienced as a head coach.  You don’t like to learn your lessons from losing, but the way we practiced, we didn’t deserve to win.  You have to give Western Kentucky credit, because they did great.  They did a good job on the low post.”

“The swagger that they had told me that they didn’t think they had to come out and compete and that they thought they were better than us”, said WKU guard AJ Slaughter.

UALR Wins Battle of Pre-Season Favorites

Our SBC preseason favorite Arkansas-Little Rock is off to a hot start (5-1), and recently celebrated a quality out of conference win against preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite Creighton.  The Trojans are proving to be a well rounded squad with four players averaging double figures offensively.  Sophomore guard Matt Mouzy is pacing the Trojans with a team high 16.6 PPG, and .462 3PT% respectively.  Keep an eye on him as the season progresses.

Other League Action of Note

East

Florida International (4-4) fell to perennial power UCLA 89-64 in a lopsided affair.  The Bruins went on a 26-1 run in the first half, and that was too much for the Panthers to overcome.  Injuries have plagued FIU since preseason began.  As of late add preseason all-SBC Russell Hicks (stress fracture) and Freddy Aspirilla (agrivated achilles) to the list of the Panthers woes.  Just prior the the loss, FIU was upset at home by D2 West Georgia 57-54.

Florida Atlantic (3-5) dropped consecutive contests to Davidson and James Madison to finish their Preseason NIT stint at 1-3.  The Owls are winless away and have played a conference high five road games thus far.

Middle Tennessee (2-3) played gracious host to in state foe Tennessee, but fell 76-66 in what was a close game until the end in Murfreesboro.  UT went on multiple runs run to extend their lead, but MTSU would pull to within 6 twice with under 6 minutes to play.  “Middle Tennessee is a good team. This was anybody’s game,”,said UT’s head man Bruce Pearl.

South Alabama (5-3) took on its former head coach, John Pelphrey, facing the Razorbacks of Arkansas.  Fans enjoyed a photo finish, but it was a tough to watch for the Jaguars.  Down one with 2.9 seconds left to play,  Stefan Welsh hit the game winning three pointer for the Razorbacks.  Final score 79-77.

West

ASU moved to 5-1 on the year with a victory over Ball State in Muncie, IN.  Forward Eric McKinney had career highs in points (20) and rebounds (16) for the RedWolves.  “Tonight’s game was the best Eric McKinney has played,” said ASU head coach John Brady.

Louisiana Lafayette (2-3) picked up its first win of the season by upending a pesky Oral Roberts in OT 79-75 at the Cajundome.

North Texas (5-2) outrebounded Big 12 opponent Oklahoma State 57-43, but fell to the Cowboys at the hands of cold second half shooting 100-88.

On the Horizon

Conference play is set to begin officially Thursday, December 11, at 7:00PM when MTSU plays host to Troy in Murfreesboro.  In the meantime, here is some of what is on tap for the SBC:

Sat, Dec 06

Auburn

ULM

Auburn, Ala.

1:00 pm

Sat, Dec 06

Tulane

Western Kentucky

New Orleans, La.

2:00 pm

Sat, Dec 06

Alabama

Louisiana-Lafayette

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

6:00 pm

Sat, Dec 06

New Orleans

Ole Miss

New Orleans, La.

7:00 pm

Sat, Dec 06

North Texas

New Mexico State

Denton, Texas

7:00 pm

Sat, Dec 06

Buffalo

Florida International

Buffalo, N.Y.

TBA

Mon, Dec 08

Oral Roberts

UALR

Tulsa, Okla.

7:05 pm

rtmsf (3736 Posts)


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