Surveying the Sun Belt: West Division

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West Division
Arkansas-Little Rock 12-9 (6-4)
UALR split their two games last week, a 82-50 blowout loss in Murfreesboro and a five point win in Bowling Green, to stay on top in the west division standings.
The Trojans have wins over Troy, Monroe, Western twice, North Texas, and Florida International. They have been defeated by South Al, Lafayette, Middle Tennessee and Troy in their second meeting.
Will Neighbour and freshman guard John Gillon are leading the way for the Trojans, averaging 11 and 10.8 points per game respectively. Gillion has sit out the last few games for the Trojans.
Don’t overlook freshman guard Josh Hagins when scouting Arkansas-Little Rock. He lit up WKU with 14 points and six assists on Saturday night. He plays excellent basketball for a freshman and has great court vision. Hagins is averaging 13 points per game in his last five contests.
Little Rock will take on the Owls of Boca Raton and the North Texas Mean Green this week.
Prediction: Chalk up two more Sun Belt wins for Steve Shields’ club.
Arkansas State 11-7 (5-4)
John Brady’s bunch (that never gets old for me) recovered nicely this week from back-to back losses with a 63-39 stomping of Louisiana Monroe. That might set the record for lowest points total by a team all season.
The Red Wolves have lost to FIU twice, FAU, and ULL in their second meeting. They have notched victories against ULL, WKU, MTSU, and USA.
Ed Townsel is averaging 15.4 points per game on 39% shooting from the field. Senior forward Brandon Peterson is scoring 11 points per game while pulling down 9.4 boards per game.
A player we should watch as the season continues is senior guard Trey Finn. Finn has the talent to take control for John Brady's bunch and is one of the better rebounding guards in the conference. Arkansas State will be visiting Diddle on February 9th.
The Red Wolves visit Troy on Thursday and have a home bout with Florida Atlantic this weekend.
Prediction: Arkansas State will pick up an easy win at Troy but will fall at home to the Owls.
North Texas 8-12 (3-6)
North Texas has leapfrogged the Ragin’ Cajuns in this week’s standings. The Mean Green dropped a game to Florida International last week and picked up an overtime win against Florida Atlantic.
Tony Mitchell is still on track to be a Sun Belt Player of the Year candidate, averaging 14.4 points per game and hauling in 8.6 rebounds per game.
North Texas has wins against Troy, South Alabama, and FAU. They have dropped games to Lafayette, Western, Middle, Monroe, and Little Rock, and Florida International
North Texas will host both MTSU and UALR this week.
Prediction: MTSU will blast North Texas, prepping for the WKU game on Saturday. UALR will also pick up the win in Denton.
Louisiana-Lafayette 7-14 (3-7)
It was a rough week for the Lou La faithful. The Ragin’ Cajuns are now in a big hole after a 72-49 loss to Western Kentucky and an 82-60 defeat in Murfreesboreaux.
Victories over conference foes include North Texas, Little Rock, and Arkansas State. ULL has been defeated by Arkansas State in their first game, Middle Tennessee twice, the Floridians, Western Kentucky, and South Alabama.
The Cajuns are being led by a pair of sophomores, Shawn Long and Eldrif Payton, who are scoring 15.8 and 14.7 points per game. Both players are shooting above 45% from the field.
The schedule gets a little easier for Louisiana-Lafayette this week with two home games against Florida International and North Texas.
Prediction: The Golden Panthers defeat the Ragin’ Cajuns on Thursday but ULL will get back into third place with a win over North Texas.
Louisiana-Monroe 3-12 (2-7)
Shew, what is there to say? The Warhawks are probably ready for football season to roll back around. They are one of the statistically worst teams in the nation for scoring and rebounding. They have beat Florida Atlantic at home and North Texas on the road.
They have lost to Western, South Al, Troy, Middle, and Little Rock. The Warhawks will visit Bowling Green on February 21st.
***UPDATED: The Warhawks lost some more. Add South Alabama and Arkansas State to the list of teams that have beat up on Monroe.
Alas, there is light at the end of the tunnel!
The Warhawks will take on Troy this Thursday. They’re gonna have to let somebody claim a victory in that game.
Prediciton: ULM continues their losing ways with a loss to Troy and a loss to FAU on Saturday.