FORT SMITH, Ark. – After almost a week-long layoff, the nationally-ranked UAFS men’s basketball team will return to action this weekend when the Lions host the UAFS Holiday Classic at the Stubblefield Center.
UAFS will be one of four teams competing in the two-day affair that also includes fellow Heartland Conference member Rogers State, No. 22/23 Texas A&M-Commerce of the Lone Star Conference and Ouachita Baptist of the Great American Conference.
The Lions (10-0), who are ranked No. 5 in the latest D2SIDA Top 25 and No. 11 in the latest NABC Division II Top 25, will play Ouachita Baptist at 8 p.m. on Friday, while Rogers State will play Texas A&M-Commerce in the early game at 6 p.m.
Rogers State will play Ouachita Baptist at 3 p.m. on Saturday, while UAFS will play Texas A&M-Commerce at 5 p.m. in the finale. Live statistics will be available for all games, and live stream will be available for all UAFS games.
It will be the first time for the Lions to take the court since beating Ecclesia College 107-61 in the eighth annual Spray-Rite Customworks Toy Toss Game at the Stubblefield Center on Saturday.
The Lions’ two classic games will be their final home games of the first semester. UAFS won’t resume play at the Stubblefield Center until Jan. 6 when it hosts Newman in a Heartland Conference game.
UAFS, which is off to the best start of its NCAA Division II era, averages 88 points per game with four players averaging double-figures in scoring – senior guard Darrion Strong-Moore (14.9), senior guard Ladarius Coleman (12.7), senior guard DaVaunta Thomas (12.6) and sophomore guard Kyree Elder (10.2).
Thomas leads the team in assists per game (2.9) and is one of four Lions averaging two or more assists per game.
The Lions out-rebound their opponents by more than 10 rebounds per game (42.5-32.3). Coleman leads the team in rebounds per game (7.7) and is one of three Lions averaging five or more rebounds per game.
UAFS allows 72 points per game and force 16 turnovers per game. Coleman leads the team in steals per game (1.2), and Thomas leads the team in blocked shots per game (0.7).
Ouachita Baptist (4-3), which is coached by former Westark College (now UAFS) assistant coach Dennis Nutt, has lost two games in a row and is coming off an 80-71 home loss to Central Baptist College on Dec. 7 at Bill Vining Arena.
The Tigers average 74 points per game with three players averaging double-figures in scoring – freshman forward Matt Stanley (13), junior guard Mahlon Martin (12.6) and senior guard Jontavis Willis (10.6). Martin leads the team in assists per game (4.3).
Ouachita Baptist out-rebounds its opponents by more than four rebounds per game (34.3-30.1). Sophomore forward Isaiah Harper leads the team in rebounds per game (4.8) and is one of three Tigers averaging four or more rebounds per game.
The Tigers allow 68 points per game and force 12 turnovers per game. Martin leads the team in steals per game (1.1), and Stanley leads the team in blocked shots per game (0.7).