The Arkansas-Pine Bluff men’s basketball team has been beaten up more than enough — by opponents and injuries.
UAPB has lost another center for at least four weeks as a foot injury has sidelined senior Terrell Kennedy, the Golden Lions’ second-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game. Kennedy came down awkwardly on the foot of a Washington State player as he was going for a layup during Saturday’s 66-38 Washington State win in Pullman, Wash.
The Lions already are missing junior Austin Allen (academic reasons) in the low post, and coach George Ivory said junior Daniel Broughton will not be back in the lineup “this trip” as he continues his conditioning and recuperation from surgery on his injured knee. UAPB (1-4) returns to action Wednesday when it takes on Arizona State (4-1) in Tempe, Ariz., and will play Saturday evening at Oregon before visiting 14th-ranked Michigan State next Wednesday.
So how does Ivory plan to handle the play in the low post?
“We’re going to try to do it by committee,” he said.
Expect junior forward Davon Haynes to play more on the low block. Haynes leads the Lions in scoring at 12.4 points per game, and Ivory’s looking for the Bowling Green transfer to be more than just a team player who’s unselfish with the ball.
“I think I’m ready for the challenge,” Haynes said. “I’m just going to be the same. I’m going to prepare the same way and do the same things I do usually. That’s how I’m going to approach the game.”
As if injuries haven’t plagued the Lions enough, so has poor shooting. They have struggled to 35.1 percent from the floor and 53.3 percent from the free-throw line while losing four games by an average of 21.25 points.
“One thing about it, we’re really shorthanded, and they’re wearing us down a lot,” Ivory said. “We’re only traveling about nine guys, and with the loss of Terrell Kennedy, we’re playing one point guard about 40 minutes a ballgame. I think right now, (we have) got to make some shots too. That’ll stop some runs.”
Senior swingman Mitchell Anderson, a preseason All-SWAC selection, is looking to break out of a scoring slump, having started the season averaging 6.4 points on 27.3 percent shooting. He was UAPB’s leading returning scorer from last season at 11.2 points a contest.
“He’s got to get some shots up because he’s going to be a marked man,” Ivory said. “He has a lot of ability and there’s going to be a little more focus on stopping him. He’s got to get some shots up because he’s getting some good looks.”
Wednesday, UAPB has to contend with its second of three straight Pacific-12 opponents in Arizona State, a team that defeated Arkansas 83-68 on Friday in the Las Vegas Invitational. The Sun Devils are led by guard Jahii (pronounced Jaw-hee) Carson, who is the nation’s leading freshman scorer at 21 points per game, and the nation’s leading shot-blocker in 7-foot-2 center Jordan Bachynski (5.2 per game).
It’s highly unlikely those two have been left off UAPB’s scouting report. Haynes doesn’t expect the Lions to change how they plan to counter based on what they know about their opponents.
“The coaches’ scouting report is on point all the time,” Haynes said. “It’s just going with the scouting report, going with what the players on our minds are going to do, what are their tendencies and go into every game like that.”
UAPB (1-4) at Arizona State (4-1)
• When: 7 p.m. Central Wednesday
• Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe, Ariz.
• TV: Pac-12 Network
• Last meeting: Arizona State 74, UAPB 57, in Tempe, on Nov. 30, 2009