The Central Arkansas Bears visit the Georgetown Hoyas for game number two at noon on November 9th. UCA has already faced a ranked opponent in Baylor, who managed to score 50+ points in each half against the visiting Bears.
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The Bears are coming off their third consecutive trip to the Southland Conference Tournament and return four of their top five scorers from last season. That includes preseason All-SLC selections DeAndre Jones, a 5-foot-11 point guard from Boise, Idaho, and Hayden Koval, a 7-foot center from Prosper, Texas.
Sophomore forwards Eddy Kayouloud and Khaleem Bennett also return as UCA’s No. 4 and 5 scorers from a year ago, along with senior Aaron Weidenaar, juniors Jared Chatham and Brandon Vanover, sophomore SK Shittu and redshirt freshman Jaxson Baker. Newcomers include guards Rylan Bergersen — a transfer from BYU — Collin Cooper, Lewis McDaniel and Masai Olowokere, along with center Jonas Munson.
One thing that needs to go right: The two stars, Koval and Jones, need to live up to their preseason conference honors, and make up most of the scoring for the Bears, taking a leadership role along the way.
One thing that could go wrong: Central Arkansas could suffer a few bad losses to begin the season, and never fully recover its confidence when conference play comes knocking, underperforming and not making much of a postseason impact.
...No. 16 Baylor is just one of several big-name opponents on the schedule this season, along with Marquette, Georgetown, Duke, Utah and Wichita State...
The Bears return just one senior, Aaron Weidenaar, but have two juniors who have started their entire careers at UCA. Point guard DeAndre Jones (5-foot-11, 160) and center Hayden Koval (7-0, 220) both averaged 12.5 points per game last season, tied for second on the team. Koval is the school’s career leader in blocked shots through just two seasons, while Jones is just 21 assists short of breaking the school mark in that category. Ironically, [Coach] Pennell is the career assists leader for the Bears.
”When you have a point guard and you have a big man, that’s certainly a nice way to go,’ said Pennell. “And both of them have played so many minutes. They’re just starting their junior years, but gosh, it’s like they’ve been around forever. And I think that’s kind of where we’re gaining on this thing, they are leading this team and they are still relatively young themselves, with half their career left starting tomorrow.
Fox Regional Sports (FSN) affiliates covering Georgetown vs. Central Arkansas 11/9 (per @mattsarz)
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“We should make it to the NCAA tournament and we should win some games,” junior Jamorko Pickett says. “That’s my realistic expectation.” ...
Unlike previous seasons, Ewing has the talent across this roster to make waves in Big East play and the postseason. But it’ll take a lot of work to make sure he’s using optimal lineups and fitting the different pieces together properly.
“There’ll be a lot of times where you see a three-guard lineup, a one-guard lineup, big lineup, small lineup,” the third-year head coach says. “I think with the depth that we have we should be able to do a lot of things … The only way you’re going to know how good you are or how good it’s going to be is when you start against other people.”