Conference Tip-Off Primer: Sun Belt

Gregory Shamus

Sun Belt play will tip off this weekend. Will the conference once again be dominated by Western Kentucky or will some new blood takeover the Sun Belt throne?


Conference Standings:

Rank School Record
1 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns 9-4
2 Arkansas State Red Wolves 7-4
3 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 8-5
4 Georgia State Panthers 7-6
5 South Alabama Jaguars 6-7
t-6

Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans
UT-Arlington Mavericks
Tory Trojans

5-7
9 Louisiana Monroe Warhawks 3-5
10 Texas State Bobcats 4-9

Leading Scorers:

Rank Player PPG
1 Reger Dowell (UT-Arlington) 22.2
2 Shawn Long (Louisiana) 21.5
3 Ryan Harrow (Ga State) 20.2
4 Elfrid Payton (Louisiana) 19.7
5 Brandon Edwards (UT-Arlington) 19.3

Top Rebounders:

Rank

Player RPG
1 Shawn Long (Louisiana) 11.4
2 Brandon Edwards (UT-Arlington) 10.0
3 Augustine Rubit (South Alabama) 9.5
4 Kevin Thomas (Troy) 8.2
5 Mychal Ammons (South Alabama) 7.5

Assists Leaders:

Rank Player APG
1 Elfrid Payton (Louisiana) 5.6
2 Devonta White (Ga State) 4.6
3 Lonnie McClanahan (UT-Arlington) 4.5
4 Ryan Harrow (Ga State) 4.4
5 Nick Coppola (ULM) 4.1

Biggest Surprise:

To be honest, much of the way the conference has played out thus far matches our preseason preview. The biggest surprises thus far may be that Augustine Rubit isn't squarely in the lead in the Player of the Year race and that the UT-Arlington Mavericks have their fingerprints on the conference's leader with the play of Brandon Edwards, Reger Dowell, and Lonni McClanahan. We'll see how long they can hold onto their spots in conference play and if Rubit can get his numbers back where they were a year ago.

Player of the Year:

It's a toss up between two guys on the same team in Louisiana's Shawn Long and Elfrid Payton. One would not have the numbers without the other which makes the decision even harder, but I'm going with Payton. The Ragin' Cajuns point guard is fourth in the conference in scoring with 19.4 points per game and first in the conference in steals and assists. Long, on the other hand, is second in the conference in scoring and blocks per game and is first in the conference in rebounding. Like I said, a toss up...

Biggest Storyline:

Western Kentucky has had a strangle hold on the conference and the tournament bid for a while now. Will the Hilltoppers prevail once again or will some new blood like Louisiana, Arkansas State, South Alabama, or Georgia State bust through? This will be a tightly contested conference and we likely won't have a clear picture until the dust from the conference tournament settles.

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