Complete team effort paces Trojans past Tigers
LITTLE ROCK - Arguably Little Rock’s most complete effort of the season helped the Trojans close out its nonconference schedule with a convincing 86-62 victory over Tennessee State Tuesday night at the Jack Stephens Center.
“This was our most complete game of the season and I was pleased with our defensive effort,” said Head Coach Darrell Walker. “I know the story will be that we scored 86 points, but that was a very athletic team we played and we held them to 62 points. I’m proud of our team, our shorthanded team, and it feels good to head into conference play with a winning record.”
Three nights after scoring its fewest points of the season at North Texas (53), Little Rock responded with its best offensive performance of the season, scoring a season-high 86 points, which is the most for the team since the 91-62 win over South Alabama on Jan. 12.
A season-high five Trojans scored in double figures on the night, led by 25 points from Markquis Nowell - his seventh 20-point performance of the season. Nowell was 9 of 15 from the floor and 5 of 8 from 3-point range.
Ruot Monyyong posted his fourth double-double of the season with 15 points and 14 rebounds against his hometown team. He reached the double-double late in the first half while tallying four blocks on the night.
Kamani Johnson tied his career high with 17 points for Little Rock on 5-of-7 shooting and just missed his third double-double of the season, finishing with nine rebounds with a pair of blocks. Johnson also went 7 of 9 from the free-throw line.
Ben Coupet Jr. added 14 points with four rebounds while going 5 of 6 from the free throw line.
Isaiah Palermo set a new career high with 11 points off the bench, going 4 for 8 from the floor while playing 28 minutes, also a new career best for the freshman.
As a team, Little Rock shot 53.7 percent from the floor, its best shooting performance of the season. The Trojans made 29 of their 54 shots while going 7 of 14 from 3-point range, also their best performance from beyond the arc this season.
Once again, Little Rock held an opponent well below their season scoring average, holding Tennessee State to 62 points after the Tigers came in averaging 76.7 points per game.
The Trojans were outrebounded 41-37, but were nearly even in second-chance points, outscored by two at 12-10. Little Rock dominated in the paint, outscoring Tennessee State 42-22, while forcing 20 Tiger turnovers.
Little Rock is now 2-1 all-time against Tennessee State, winning both games of the home-and-home series over the past two seasons. The Trojans are 1-0 all-time against the Tigers in Little Rock.
Little Rock will now have nine days off before beginning its 2019-20 Sun Belt Conference schedule on the road against the Louisiana schools. The Trojans first travel to Monroe to take on ULM on Thursday, Dec.
19, tipping at 7 p.m. at Fantewing Coliseum.