MONTICELLO — The Arkansas-Monticello men’s basketball team knows it can score with any team in the conference.
The Boll Weevils scored 85 points against Henderson State in a Great American Conference game on Saturday
However, it was the defensive side that failed the UAM men as the Reddies scored 95 points to beat UAM, handing the Boll Weevils their first loss in the conference.
That win tied Henderson State with Ouachita Baptist for the top spot in the conference with a 3-1 record.
The Boll Weevils fell to 2-1 and are tied for third in the conference. UAM is 12-3 overall.
“We didn’t get it done,” UAM coach Allen Sharpe said. “Our defense has slipped the last couple of games.”
The lack of defense is not typical of the Boll Weevils. Even after the loss to the Reddies, UAM is second in the conference in scoring defense at 67.9 points given up per game.
But in all three GAC conference games, the Boll Weevils have given up more than 67 points — 69 in a win over Arkansas Tech and 78 in a win over Southeastern Oklahoma State to go along with the 95 against Henderson State.
The latest game against Henderson State was a wake-up call for the team, though, Sharpe said.
“We have had a week of practice where we went back to getting after it like we used to,” he said. I hate to say it’s good for us, but we have gotten back at it.”
Sharpe could not put a finger on one reason why Henderson State was able to control the game offensively. Instead he gave a number of reasons why.
“Henderson was just more aggressive,” Sharpe said. “They played hard and they acted like they wanted to win the game more than we wanted to.
“We didn’t get up and guard their shooters and got beat off the dribble.”
The Boll Weevils were also plagued by foul trouble throughout the game. UAM was whistled for 30 personal fouls and both L.A. Farmer and Kori Forge fouled out of the game while Ricardo Hall and Chas Clemens each had four fouls.
“We were in bad foul trouble,” Sharpe said. “We weren’t in much of a rhythm because of that.”
Sharpe is glad the team is getting the point that the defense has to improve, because with the team’s offense, he feels the Boll Weevils have something special cooking.
“If they didn’t get it (after that), they will never get it,” he said. “That’s all we talk about this week, and they got to see that.
“We have the talent and firepower to win something, but after the last two games, I don’t know if we have the defense.”
UAM leads the GAC is scoring offense with 85.5 points per game, four points a game more than Henderson State.
The Boll Weevils also have three players in the top five in individual scoring in the GAC.
Farmer is second in the conference with 20.5 ppg with Forge right behind him with 17.9 ppg. Sergio Crowe’s 15.3 ppg ranks fifth in the conference. Hall is not too far behind those three, ninth in the conference with 14.2 ppg.
Forge, Farmer and Crowe are all guards with Hall being the lone forward of the group.
Forge said having so much firepower is what makes the team so dangerous.
“We have good posts and really good guard play, some of the best guard play in the nation,” he said. “On any given night, anyone can go off.
In the beginning of the year, Ricardo had a 30-point night. That’s just how we are, and that’s the surprising thing about us.”
Forge has his own 30-point night as he scored 31 points in the win over Southeastern Oklahoma State, which helped earn him the GAC player of the week on Jan. 10.
“It was surprising to me because I haven’t been named player of the week since I was in junior high, so it felt pretty good,” he said.
With all of the scoring threats the Boll Weevils have to offer, Forge thinks the team has something special going on.
“Most definitely (we can get to the national tournament),” he said. “If we get there, I think we can make some noise.”
But as Sharpe said, the team is going to have to play better defense before the national tournament comes into play.
“We have a lot of different threats, which is one of the reasons we have had so much success this year,” he said. “We always feel like we are going to get enough points, but are we going to get enough stops.”