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UCA teams open conference basketball play

Posted: January 1, 2014 - 8:49pm

After each team broke losing streaks, the University of Central Arkansas basketball teams will begin Southland Conference play Thursday night at the Farris Center against Texas A&M Corpus Christi and continue the homestand Saturday against Houston Baptist.

Thursday, the Sugar Bears will take on the Islanders at 5:30 p.m. with the men’s game to follow about 7:30 p.m.

The Sugar Bears (6-5) broke a four game losing streak Monday with a victory over Philander Smith.

The Islanders come into the game with a 7-4 record. The two teams are ranked 1-2 (UCA first) in the SLC in scoring defense.

The Bears (3-8) are coming off a 121-77 win over Ecclesia on Monday, snapping a five-game losing streak.

“It’s 0-0 now, we have a new page,” said UCA coach Clarence Finley. “We’ve been through the trenches, playing some guarantee games and some very good teams. We played some teams that we thought we could beat, but they played us pretty good.

“But I know we can compete in the Southland Conference if we come to play and are focused for 40 minutes every night.”

The Bears received a spark recently with the return of senior guard LaQuentin Miles and sophomore forward Tirrell Brown, both academically ineligible for the fall semester. Miles, an All-SLC selection last season, has two 28-point scoring games in three outings and is averaging 23.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists since returning.

Brown, a 6-foot-5 forward from Jacksonville, had his first career double-double on Monday, scoring 20 points and pulling down 11 rebounds, both career highs.

Since Miles and Brown returned, the Bears are averaging 99.7 points, shooting 50 percent from the field and outrebounding their opponents 45-39.

Even with the conference realignment and the additions of HBU, Incarnate Word, Abilene Christian and New Orleans, each SLC team will again play 18 league games this season. After Saturday afternoon’s home games, UCA teams will play three straight road games, at Oral Roberts, Incarnate Word and Abilene Christian.

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