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DENVER, Colo. (March 17, 2016) – Five-seed Purdue is set to take on 12-seed Little Rock in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday afternoon at approximately 4:30 p.m. eastern time. Let’s get to know the Trojans.
- Little Rock is the champion of the Sun Belt, defeating Louisiana Monroe 70-50 in the conference championship game.
- The Trojans 29-4 record is the best record in college basketball.
- Defensively, Little Rock gives up just 59.6 points per game, second-best in the nation, trailing only Wichita State.
- The Trojans have won 12 true road games this season, the second-most in the NCAA.
- Little Rock is led by senior guard Josh Hagins, who averages 12.8 points per game, but Hagins has only topped 20 points once this season.
- Asked to describe Little Rock’s defensive style, Hagins said the Trojans like to play in the gaps and keep the ball out of the paint, which will certainly be a challenge facing a Purdue team that likes to pound the paint with A.J. Hammons, Isaac Haas, and Caleb Swanigan.
- After a 13-win 2014-15 season, the Trojans hired Chris Beard as their new head coach last offseason. Beard helped Little Rock improve by a remarkable 16 wins in 2015-16.
- Beard has a connection to Central Indiana, as he coached as an assistant under long-time IU head coach Bobby Knight at Texas Tech.
- Beard will coach in the NCAA Tournament with a broken hand after smashing a whiteboard during halftime of the Trojans’ Sun Belt Championship game against ULM.
- Beard joked Wednesday that he saw a chair in the room and thought about taking out his frustration there, but Coach Knight warned him against throwing chairs, so he went for the whiteboard. The display had its intended effect, as the Trojans came back from down five at the break to win by 20.