Smith Sets Career Record, McCree Sets Career High in Victory
Jan. 15, 2015
RUSTON - Redshirt sophomore Erik McCree scored a game-high 26 points with two of his makes setting career marks in crucial situations.
The first was one of his four three-pointers which just so happened to be off of career assist No. 713 for Kenneth Smith which set the program record.
The second was a made free throw with four seconds to go in the game which set a new career-high for the forward and ultimately gave Louisiana Tech the victory, 74-71, over UAB on Thursday night in front of 3,815 fans inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
The win kept LA Tech (13-4, 4-0 C-USA) atop the Conference USA standings and also extended its home winning streak to 21 games, the third longest streak in school history.
Also helping to outlast a hot-shooting UAB (7-10, 3-1 C-USA) team was Alex Hamilton who had an incredibly efficient night on offense, scoring 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.
Even with the Blazers shooting a season-best 58 percent from the field, scoring 36 points in the paint and outrebounding the Bulldogs by seven, the key stat was the turnover margin. LA Tech forced 20 which led to nine more shot attempts and only had 11 themselves.
"Both teams deserved to win, but the factor was our crowd and the second factor was causing 20 turnovers for us, which again, our crowd helped with," head coach Michael White said. "I thought Erik (McCree) and Alex (Hamilton) offensively really won us the game. They stepped up.
"We have to be better defensively. We have to be better on the glass to give ourselves a chance consistently. This was one of those games a little bit unlike past teams around here in that we won it with our offense."
The visitors took their largest lead of the game, 45-37, on a dunk by William Lee. However, the next possession by the `Dogs was a dart pass by Speedy to McCree who hit a three-pointer from the wing. That assist gave Speedy the program record, surpassing LA Tech legend Wayne Smith.
"He is a terrific passer that is unselfish," White said of Speedy. "That is all he cares about, helping his teammates get better and making the pass that leads to the basket. People talk about his passing ability and his assists and the steals, but what makes Speedy Speedy is his competitiveness. He is a winner and any accolades he gets, I am happy for him."
The Bulldogs pulled to within one point on multiple occasions, but UAB could not miss. The Blazers hit on nine of their first 12 shots of the second half to bring their advantage back to 57-52 with 11:31 to go.
The heat from UAB started to rub off on LA Tech as Speedy, Hamilton and Raheem Appleby each hit on three-pointers to give the `Dogs their first lead of the second stanza, 63-62.
The lead flip-flopped a couple of times before coming to the game's sixth tie, 71-71, with 2:46 left. From there, the Blazers missed all three of their jumpers and the Bulldogs punched in three free throws to squeak out the win.
The `Dogs shot 26-of-59 from the field for 44 percent shooting. Raheem Appleby was held in check by the UAB defense, but still recorded 11 points to go along with three rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Brown led the Blazers in scoring with 16 points. Denzell Watts added 10.
LA Tech returns to the TAC on Saturday at 3 p.m. to face Middle Tennessee. The Operation Sellout 2.0/Coach White Out game will be televised live on FSN.
For all the latest in Bulldog Basketball, follow them on Twitter (@LATechHoops), Instagram (@LATechHoops) and Facebook (LATechMBB) or on the official website at LATechSports.com.
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