As debuts go, it is an inauspicious one.
After years in the Sun Belt Conference, Little Rock joined the Ohio Valley Conference this past summer and on Thursday, the Trojans are set to make their basketball debut in the new league.
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The game is still on, it just won’t be on-campus in the Jack Stephens Center as last week’s cold snap froze the pipes and caused a massive water leak that flooded the floor.
So, now, the games against Tennessee-Martin will be played at North Little Rock’s Simmons Bank Arena with the women’s game tipping off at 5 p.m. and the men’s game to follow at 7:30 p.m.
Doors open at 4 p.m. and tickets will only be sold at the box office for $10. The games will not be broadcast on ESPN+ and season tickets will be honored. All seats are general admission.
Parking around the arena will be free.
Both games should be good ones.
UTM enters the games hot. The women’s team is 4-7 but that includes wins at Arkansas State and Vanderbilt. A game last week was cancelled due to the weather.
There's two Arkansans on the roster with 5-foot-10 guard Josie Storey out of Mountain View while 5-11 guard Kenley McCarn played at Melbourne.
Also back, for a sixth season, is Paige Pipkin, who played at Chester County High School in West Tennessee for her mom, Lee (Nunamaker) Pipkin, a long-time high school coach and former Union University player, who lost to Joe Foley's Arkansas Tech team in the 1993 NAIA National Championship game.
UTM is led by Kevin McMillan, who played collegiately at Wake Forest, and spent his entire career in West Tennessee as high school and now college coach.
Little Rock is 3-8 but has played a brutal schedule with losses to Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss, but have beaten Texas A&M.
Little Rock is 4-9 and the last game was a rough, 77-75, loss at Arkansas State. Keep an eye on guard D.J. Smith, a North Little Rock product, who was a pre-season all-conference pick by Lindy's College Basketball.
UTM (8-5) is coached by Ryan Ridder and the player to watch for the Skyhawks is Parker Stewart, the Lindy's pick as preseason Conference Player of the Year.