The Golden Lions and Alabama A&M Bulldogs are set for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off on Saturday.
Before delving into conference play, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions wrapped up the Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase with a visit this week to the Arkansas Cancer Institute in Pine Bluff.
UAPB Head Coach George Ivory called the experience a humbling act of community service.
"It was a great eye-opening trip for us," Ivory said. "We wanted to go over and brighten up someone's day."
The Golden Lions then brightened up their season by opening Southwestern Athletic Conference play Monday night with a 80-71 win over Mississippi Valley. The win marked UAPB's first of the season, and Ivory was glad to see his guys break through.
"It was good for us to get our first win of the season, and to start conference (play) off right," Ivory said. "We have to learn how to close out games, but overall we executed the game plan very well."
UAPB junior guard Martaveous McKnight is the third leading scorer in the SWAC, averaging 17.2 ppg. According to Ivory, McKnight has been huge for the team, and he's able to do for himself and others.
"He's brought a lot of scoring," Ivory said of McKnight. "He's a guy that can create his own shot and make plays. We're very pleased to have him, and we want to continue to get better. McKnight opens up a lot for different guys on the team."
Ivory mentioned how what McKnight does from an offensive standpoint allows his backcourt mates like Cameron Posey and Charles Jackson to look good.
"Posey is our freshman point guard who is doing a great job," Ivory said. "He handles the ball a lot, and when we move McKnight to the point, Posey and Jackson can make jump shots. We have a pretty good backcourt, and we're getting up and down running the court. We have to get our turnovers down and make our free throws."
Against Valley, as a team the Golden Lions shot 66.7 percent from the free throw line, but they gave away 17 turnovers.
On a positive note, Ivory believes a couple of his senior post players — Trent Steen and Travon Harper — have stepped their games up. With the experience they have, they've expanded their offensive attacks, and they're now multi-dimensional.
"Those guys have a year under their belt," Ivory said of Steen and Harper. "We expect them to give us an inside and outside punch. They're both dual-threat, low post players. They've developed mid-range games and have even extended their games past the three-point line."
Looking to stay unbeaten in SWAC play, the Golden Lions will travel to take on the Alabama A&M Bulldogs on Saturday. A couple of guys from A&M who Ivory mentioned as scoring threats are their big man Mohamed Sherif and their guard D. Petty.
"They have a big kid in the middle about 6 feet 9 (inches), and a guard who is scoring pretty good for them," Ivory said. "They have some newcomers as well, and it should be a pretty good game. If we rebound and don't turn it over, we'll come out pretty good."