McCree Leads Bulldogs Past Golden Eagles in League Opener

Jan. 2, 2016

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RUSTON – After scoring a season low in points last game, redshirt junior Erik McCree more than made up for it by pouring in a career-high 30 to go along with 10 rebounds in leading Louisiana Tech to a convincing 87-57 win over Southern Miss on Saturday night inside the Thomas Assembly Center.

With LA Tech (12-2, 1-0 C-USA) clinging to a five-point lead with four minutes remaining in the first stanza, McCree caught fire to ignite a 17-6 run, including three consecutive three-pointers, to help the Bulldogs pick up their 39th straight victory at home.

“I really liked our defensive energy to start the game, both in the full-court and half-court,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “It set the tone and type of tempo that we wanted. We did not get into a scoring rhythm until a little later in the second half. Erik McCree really got it going. Dayon Griffin actually started it but McCree really made some shots. We were able to have some great moments in the second half as well and keep it going.

“I have seen Erik rattle off a lot of shots in a row in practice, both in drills and in game situations. You can see it in him. He had a great few days of practice and was poised to have a nice game. I really challenged him defensively, but once that moment came, he and Alex had a really nice rhythm going together. Alex was drawing the defense and kicking it back to him. He really got it going.”

In the early going, the Bulldogs had a stretch of going 1-of-15 from the field and hit just one of their first nine three-point field goal attempts.

After scoring 25 points in the first 16 minutes of action, the game was broken open by McCree and Co. who ended up scoring 62 over the final 24 minutes to produce the most points allowed by Southern Miss (3-9, 0-1 C-USA) who came in with the 51st best scoring defense in the country.

McCree’s scoring was certainly needed on a night when Alex Hamilton cooled off from his six-game scoring tear. USM keyed in on the senior guard who went 1-of-9 from the field, but he still put together an impressive stat line with 14 points (12-of-12 from the foul line), nine assists, eight boards and four steals.

Meanwhile, the Bulldog defense was creating havoc all night, forcing 20 turnovers which turned into 35 points.

“It is what we have been asking for,” Konkol said about the defensive intensity. “We have been growing as the season has gone on, to be a team that can defend in the full court. We can apply pressure but when we get into half-court, try and defend the paint. We want to be tough to get by. I thought there were so moments tonight were we did that. We have to keep doing that possession to possession and try to string together an entire game.”

Three other Bulldogs reached double-digit points as well – Jacobi Boykins (12), Dayon Griffin (11) and Derric Jean (10) – to produce the largest win in the series since 1971.

LA Tech finished the game shooting 25-of-58 from the field (43 percent) and 10-of-28 from three-point range (36 percent).

On the other end, Southern Miss went 20-of-46 from the field and 3-of-14 from beyond the arc. The Golden Eagles were led in scoring by Kourtlin Jackson who posted 14 points.

LA Tech continues its current home stand on Thursday, Jan. 7 versus Old Dominion. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the CBS Sports Network.

For all the latest in Bulldog Basketball, follow them on Twitter (@LATechHoops), Instagram (@LATechHoops) and Facebook (LATechMBB) or visit the official website at LATechSports.com.

 

 

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