Nov. 14, 2012
RUSTON - The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (1-1) built a 23-6 lead right out of the gate and never looked back as they sped past the UALR Trojans (1-1) to a final of 70-52 Wednesday night in their home opener at the Thomas Assembly Center.
The Trojans got as close as eight points with four minutes remaining in the first half, but would never get any closer as the victory extended LA Tech's home winning streak of non-conference games to 21.
"I thought defensively we were really good," said head coach Michael White. "Our energy level and our communication, our ownership on that end, was terrific. We made better decisions than we made the other night offensively. We are still struggling to shoot the ball, but again, part of that had to do with how good UALR is defensively. I thought we got a little bit better tonight and came up with a very good showing against a very good team."
The Bulldogs used 10 forced turnovers and 10 points from junior guard Cordarius Johnson in the early going to take charge of the game.
UALR would respond with a 9-0 run of their own to slice the lead into single-digits, but the Bulldogs took a 12-point into halftime holding the Trojans to just 20 first half points.
Johnson would bury one of his two three-pointers from the wing to push the Bulldog lead back out to 15 early in the second half, ending the night with a game-high 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
The defense continued to pressure the ball behind the effort of point guard Kenneth Smith and his career-high six steals to build a 20-point lead with only 3:46 remaining in the game.
The six steals tied Smith for fourth all-time for most steals in a single-game with eight previous Bulldog players. He also tallied seven points, a team-high seven rebounds and five assists.
[Kenneth] I thought had a couple of early steals and gave forth a lot of effort on the defensive end," said White. "That's his specialty. He creates havoc. He gets other guys shots. He's a junkyard dog. He did a lot of good things tonight. He can affect the game as much as anyone I've coached."
The Bulldogs shot just 36% from the field, but got to the free throw line 31 times, making 22, behind their aggressive guards drawing fouls and driving through contact and posting hard in the paint.
Senior guard Brandon Gibson added 10 points for his second straight game in double figures with half of those coming from the foul line.
Leading the scoring for the Trojans was Ben Dillard who scored 11 on the night. Also providing a spark for UALR was Taggart Lockhart who scored 10 points while grabbing a game-high eight rebounds.
The Bulldogs will square off against the Trojans again on Dec. 17 in Little Rock, Ark. at the Jack Stephens Center.
LA Tech returns to action at 4 p.m. Sunday in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic when they travel to Chattanooga, Tenn. to take on Troy in what will be the first of three games in three days round robin tournament.
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