March 2, 2014
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Louisiana Tech was able to keep pace in the race for a Conference USA regular season championship on Sunday afternoon as the Bulldogs held off a late push by UAB to win 67-58 inside Bartow Arena.
All four teams atop the standings won along with LA Tech (24-6, 12-3 C-USA) which sets up an entertaining final regular season game day this Thursday.
The Bulldogs pulled off the program's first ever win against the Blazers with a tremendous first half offensively where they shot 50 percent from the field, including nine three-pointers, and a tremendous second half defensively where they held UAB (18-11, 7-8 C-USA) as a team to just 22 points and its leading scorer Chad Frazier to just 10.
"We were able to be proficient enough offensively just to scrape by," said head coach Michael White. "Defensively, we continued to alter shots and get our hands on balls, creating some turnovers. We defended our glass a lot better in the last 15 minutes of the game than we did the first 25 minutes of the game. I thought Michale Kyser altered a bunch of shots and helped us. Defensively, we did a great job on Chad Frazier.
"The way we shot the ball in the first half allowed us to hold on. We shortened the game a little bit, had some long possessions. It was ugly at times offensively in the second 20 minutes, but we will take it."
The effort on offense came from Chris Anderson who registered a game-high 20 points, including a career-high four made three's which all came in the first 10 minutes of the contest. The senior was shooting just 27 percent from beyond the arc prior to today.
Kenyon McNeail matched his effort from beyond the arc, sinking four first half three-pointers as well, ending with 14 points.
The effort on defense was collective, forcing the Blazers into 16 turnovers and staying strong on the glass late in the game against one of the best rebounding teams in the country.
Michale Kyser came up big in the paint for the second straight game, pulling down a team-high seven rebounds and rejection three balls en route to setting the single season program record.
UAB jumped out to the lead, but the Bulldogs were able to tie it up at the 14:58 mark, 10-10, on a three by Anderson and then took their first lead on the next possession with a three from McNeail.
Anderson had 14 points in the first 10 minutes of the half, but picked up his second foul with 7:55 still to go and was forced to sit the remainder of the period.
The game was knotted back up, 29-29 with 4:40 left, but it was McNeail who broke the tie again with a beautiful rainbow three and sparked a 13-2 run that saw the `Dogs force three turnovers during the stretch.
LA Tech finished the half having an eight-point lead, 44-36, but the Bulldogs came up empty on the first four possessions of the second stanza and immediately called a timeout after back-to-back buckets by UAB's Swing cut the deficit down to four.
Anderson had gone out briefly with an injury, but came back in having missed three minutes of action, at the 15:32 mark and immediately had an impact. He drove hard to the basket for a layup and then followed that up with a 17-footer.
Two more points from the free throw line for Anderson gave him six straight points and the `Dogs a 55-44 lead with 12:50 remaining in the game.
From there, the Bulldog offense got tentative and UAB slowly clawed its way back into it, cutting the deficit down to four with two minutes to go.
"It was not the way we drew it up, but we were kind of at a loss with our zone attack," said White. "They did a good job of adjusting to our actions. We had a good rhythm there for a long time where we were attacking the interior. Chris Anderson was terrific at drawing fouls and making plays. Then I think we got a little tentative.
"That one specific possession, we kept the ball moving and it was a late clock three that Alex just stepped up and had his feet set and hit a dagger for us. It was big."
LA Tech concludes the regular season at Rice on Thursday, March 6. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
For complete coverage of Bulldog Basketball, please follow @LATechHoops on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at www.LATechSports.com.