Malcolm Thomas and 7-0 redshirt freshman center Rory Burt were the first options off the bench. Next came point guard warren Fuselier and forward Tommie Sykes. Freshman Colby Carr and 6-10 junior college addition Fabio Ribeiro were inserted midway through the first half.
"I don't know if you should (pay attention to the way playing time was split), because I'm not sure yet," Early said. "I'm trying to really figure it out and fine tune which group is the best together. I've just got to get a feel for each guy. We really don't have a set rotation yet."
The Warhawks utilized their huge size advantage to outscore UT-Tyler 34-14 in the paint. ULM held only a slim 46-45 rebounding advantage but benefited from a 27-8 turnover margin. Forbes led ULM with 17, Gilbert had 15 with four 3-pointers and Rudy Turner scored 14 with nine rebounds.
"I thought we did some good things and I thought we did a lot of bad things," Early said. "Obviously no team is really ready to play this early. We were fortunate to be the bigger team tonight."
Thomas, who missed some preseason practice time with a knee ailment, scored six points in 11 minutes. The preseason All-Sun Belt third-team pick made 3-of-7 shots from the floor and was 0-for-4 on 3-point attempts.
"He didn't shoot the ball well, but he hasn't been practicing in about 10 days," Early said. "He's a little rusty. But it's good to see him back on the floor."
Early in the second half, ULM had Fuselier at point and Hooper at shooting guard. Fuselier, who scored four points with three assists and four steals, seemed to grow more comfortable in the second half and made several nifty passes.
Look for ULM to occasionally mix and match pairs of big men. Turner never shared the court with Burt or Ribeiro but the latter two were on the floor together near the end of the game. Burt blocked two shots and had eight rebounds in 14 minutes to go with six points.
"We're definitely going to do that some this year," Early said. "Obviously tonight, we couldn't. We don't even have a zone in. At the end, we called timeout and used a makeshift 2-3 zone. But their athleticism from the perimeter made it tough to play the two big guys together. Their tallest guy was about 6-5."
ULM opens the season on Friday, Nov. 13 at LSU. The home opener is Sunday, Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. against Alcorn State.