Oct. 25, 2012
RUSTON - The thump of a basketball was a pleasant sound to hear for the fans on hand in the Thomas Assembly Center as the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs saw their first action of the 2012-13 season against Arkansas-Monticello tonight, taking down the Boll Weevils 72-44 in the exhibition game.
UAM of the Great American Conference instantly came out in a one-three-one zone, but the Bulldogs were able to counter with crisp passing to set up plenty of open looks. Senior guard Brandon Gibson got the team on the scoreboard first with a three from the corner, but very few other outside shots seemed to fall the rest of the night.
"We screwed a lot of things up, but we did some things pretty well too," said Michael White who began his second year campaign as head coach. "Offensively we shot it terribly. We had a lot of good looks. The fact that we turned down good shots to get great shots made me proud. We had three or four guys out there that probably could've gotten five or six more shots up, but we played together and we played very unselfishly."
LA Tech shot 42% from the floor and 3-of-13 from behind the arc in the first half, taking only a 10-point lead, 34-24, into halftime over Arkansas-Monticello.
Early in the second half, the Bulldogs cranked up the defensive pressure and showed that they can be even better defensively than they were a year ago after going on a 19-2 run to the break the game open.
"The biggest message I left [the team] is that we are pretty talented defensively," said White. "We can be way better defensively than we were last year, just because of our depth, our athleticism. Our press was really good at times, but we need to clean a lot of those things up."
The Bulldogs would force the Boll Weevils into 23 turnovers on the night, led by junior guard Kenyon McNeail with a game-high five steals, and convert those extra scoring opportunities in points. Seeing only 20 minutes of action, sophomore forward Michale Kyser led the team with 12 points and also used his length to record five rebounds and three blocks.
The fans also got to see some new faces on the court for the first time as two junior college transfers, two freshman and two walk-ons all got productive minutes.
"[The newcomers] did pretty well overall," said White. "Chris [Anderson] and Jaron [Johnson] made some athletic plays. Chris got to some hard balls, some explosive drives to the rim. Jaron had a great offensive put-back early in the game. Alex [Hamilton] has a lot to learn from the one and from the two. He is talented enough to earn those minutes at both spots, and he did some good things from both spots. Gibby Talbert got in there and did some damage in a few minutes of work, threw his body around. Like Alex he is learning out system daily."
Arkansas-Monticello's Amir Royal led all players in scoring with 16 points on the night. Kori Forge led the Boll Weevils in the rebound department grabbing seven boards. Coach White hopes that the poor shooting night was just a byproduct of the intense practices over the past two weeks and that it's something that can be corrected pretty soon. The team will have an off day tomorrow before getting back on the court the following day.
Louisiana Tech's next action comes on Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. when Southern Arkansas travels to Ruston for the Bulldogs' last exhibition game.
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