Let's face it, last night was pretty ugly for the Panthers. After the game, coach Isiah Thomas seemed frustrated (I would be too) with the performance the guys showed against UALR.
The Trojans manhandled FIU the entire game, easily winning 78-70. FIU was down from the start, falling to a 43-28 halftime deficit.
"They played a really good first half. Their movement was excellent,'' Thomas said, after the game. "We didn't play the way we practiced."
Defensively, FIU (8-10, 3-3 SBC) had no answer for UALR, letting the Trojans get uncontested looks at the rim the whole game. The Trojans' defense shutdown the Panthers in the first-half, limiting FIU to only 25 percent (6 of 24) from the field.
"We were out of rhythm, out of sync on offense," Thomas said.
The first-half was made even harder for FIU, when leading scorer Erik Frederick picked up two early fouls. Thomas pulled him soon after, with Frederick playing only 4 minutes in the first period. Frederick returned in the second half, scoring 5 points in 22 minutes of play in the game.
"It made a huge difference," Thomas said about Frederick. "He's our inside threat."
FIU was able to outscore UALR, 42-35 in the second-half, but by then the game was almost out of hand. FIU cut the Trojans' lead to four points late in the game twice. Both times, it looked FIU might have enough to take the lead, but UALR proved to be too much.
The one bright spot for FIU came on the foul-line. The Panthers shot 29 of 33, including 13 of 16 in the second half.
"We were able to manufacture points from the foul-line, which was a good thing," Thomas said. "Again, we were in such a hole the first-half, that everything you tried to do in the second half, you had to be perfect."
Guard Jeremy Allen had a game-high 18 points and was 7 of 7 on free throws. Allen was essential in the Panthers short lived come back, scoring 9 points in the second half. The Panthers had 5 players in double digits.
UALR used the three-point shot effectively, helping to keep the Golden Panthers at bay. Earlier in the week, coach Thomas spoke about the need of having to defend the three-pointer. Even though the Panthers limited UALR to a season-low 7 three-pointers on 18 attempts, the shots the Trojans made were huge.
FIU was terrible from beyond the arch, hitting just one shot on 13 attempts.
Of concern for FIU is the fact that a smaller UALR out rebounded them, 37-26. FIU had a size advantage at every position, except point guard, Thomas said after the game. The disparity was even greater in the first-half, with UALR leading 26 to 11 rebounds. The lack of rebounding helped UALR get multiple second-chance baskets. UALR lead 12 to 4 on offensive rebounds at halftime.
"We didn't do a good enough job on the rebounds," Thomas said.
FIU improved in the second period on rebounds, winning 15 to 11, including 7 to 3 on the offensive glass.