Defending champs get fresh start
After a rocky up-and-down season that likely no one expected, the University of Arkansas at Monticello men’s basketball team is suddenly 0-0 again. And that’s good news for the defending Great American Conference regular-season champions.
Picked to literally run away with the 2017-18 season, the Boll Weevils rode a roller coaster all season long and finished 17-11, 12-10 in league action. A rough final week saw UAM go 2-1, winning at Harding University 75-71 last Thursday and losing at Arkansas Tech University 88-73 Saturday after besting rival Southern Arkansas University 68-61 in the final home game of the year on Tuesday, Feb. 20.
The Weevils hung in long enough, though, to earn the No. 6 seed in the upcoming GAC Championships and will face third-seeded East Central University at 2:15 p.m. Friday in Bartlesville, Okla. That game will be a rematch of last year’s conference tournament title tilt. Should the Weevils get past the Tigers (whom they swept this winter during the regular season, winning 89-65 at Steelman Field House on Dec. 2, 2017 and 89-79 in Ada, Okla. on Feb. 1), UAM will meet the Northwestern Oklahoma State University-SAU winner at 2:15 p.m. Saturday. The tournament final is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.
“We are excited about going to the conference tournament,” UAM head coach Kyle Tolin said. “Anytime you are getting to play in March that is a good deal.
“The three games in a week is always a tough deal. We figured out a way to win two of the three, though. We all understand we need to be playing our best basketball of the season this week coming up.”