Clarksville, Ark.- The University of the Ozarks men's basketball team snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 66-57 victory over UT-Tyler on Saturday in American Southwest Conference play.
<#IMAGE:1#>It wasn’t easy, but the Eagles (6-12, 5-9) found a way to earn their first ASC win since January 4. Ozarks led 34-24 at the half behind Habeeb Kareem’s 10 points. The Patriots (4-13, 4-10) led for a good portion of the first half, but Ozarks took control of the game in the latter part of the half, owning a 29-19 advantage with 5:20 left. Kareem’s jumper at the 8:55 mark ignited the Eagles on a 13-6 run to close out the half. Ozarks slowly let go of a double-digit lead in the second half when UT-Tyler cut the deficit to 36-33 with 15:46 remaining. The Patriots eventually took a one-point lead when Jeff Cotton hit a jumper at the 11:14 mark. The next eight minutes saw a back-and-forth battle before the Eagles established a 59-54 advantage on another Kareem shot. A 5-0 run over the next two minutes saw Ozarks build the lead to 64-54 when Jeremy Clark scored on a layup. The game featured brothers Habeeb and Hakeem Kareem on opposite ends. The elder Kareem (Habeeb) got the most of his younger sibling by scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Hakeem, a freshman, started the contest and had 5 points and 2 rebounds in the first half for UT-Tyler, but didn’t see much playing time after that. UT-Tyler had only nine field goals in the first half, but held Ozarks to that same amount in the second half. Kareem, Chris Clark and Clint McHenry combined for 29 of Ozarks’ 42 rebounds. McHenry’s 10 points followed Kareem’s 16 in the scoring column. “UT-Tyler has a lot of upside, but they were a lot like us in that they have been playing inconsistent,” said head coach Matt O’Connor. “I think we made enough plays to get over the top. We had a good feel on both ends of the court and our guys did a good job of executing. It was nice to get a win. I’m hoping that we can build off of this and we can continue to learn more as we go out each time.” Prior to the game, former Ozarks’ stars Kenneth Little and Lori (Myers) Hines were inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame. Little, who starred in track and field from 1978-81, and Hines, who was a standout basketball player from 1993-97, made up the 2007 Hall of Fame class. “It is early to talk about the playoffs from the standpoint that we are only one game out, but we have six conference games left,” said O’Connor. “Obviously, you help yourself out by winning. We will give everything we can. These guys understand they have a lot to prove.” “I’m happy that our guys have played hard all season,” said O’Connor. “They have continued to work hard in practice and in our games. We sometimes struggle to make the plays that experienced teams do. We have to be more consistent in shooting the basketball. We also have to be better in our offensive movement. Sometimes it is harder for a younger team to realize how important doing the little things are.” Ozarks will travel to Conway to face the University of Central Arkansas on Tuesday. It will be the first NCAA Division-I opponent for the Eagles in more than twenty years. Ozarks will then travel to Richardson, Texas, to face UT-Dallas on Thursday and then on to Tyler, Texas, to face UT-Tyler on Saturday.