Jan. 4, 2013
RUSTON - After opening up the WAC season at home with two wins over Denver and New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech will open up a three-game Texas road swing starting at UT Arlington on Saturday night at 7 p.m. inside the newly constructed College Park Center.
UTA (6-5, 1-1) enters the contest as new members of the Western Athletic Conference, but this will not be the first time LA Tech (11-3, 2-0) meets up with the I-20 school on the hardwood in a conference showdown.
After Louisiana Tech joined the Southland Conference in 1972, the matchup with UT Arlington became an annual occurrence. The two teams did battle twice a year all the way until 1986 when the Bulldogs played their last season in the Southland.
It was not until the 2010-11 season that the Bulldogs and Mavericks hooked up again with the `Dogs squeaking out a one-point win in Ruston. Last season the Mavs got even on their home floor by defeating the Bulldogs, 68-61.
"Winning at their place will be very hard," said head coach Michael White. "We'll need to withstand their runs, play with poise and rebound the ball much better than we did a year ago at their place."
The matchup will pit the Bulldogs No. 1 scoring offense (73.9) in the WAC versus the Mavs No.2 scoring defense (58.7) in the WAC.
LA Tech's offense clocked in one of their best shooting performances of the season this past Monday night against NMSU.
The Bulldogs shot 44 percent from the field and an astounding 50 percent from three-point range on 11-of-22 shooting, including guard Brandon Gibson's five makes on five attempts.
The `Dogs also excelled from the free throw line going 14-of-17 for 82 percent anchored by guard Alex Hamilton's perfect 10-10 night.
UT Arlington suffered three losses to Big 12 schools Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State in non-conference action, but got their inaugural WAC win in dominating fashion with a 68-47 drumming of the defending conference champions New Mexico State.
However, they have since struggled to score the basketball and have faltered twice to the likes of Denver, 50-35, and Boise State, 64-46.
An experienced Mavs squad with four seniors and one junior in their starting lineup will look to turn things around when the Bulldogs come to town.
Senior forward Kevin Butler and senior center Jordan Reves pace the Mavericks averaging 9.9 and 8.6 points per game, respectively. They also make a living on the glass with Reves leading the WAC with an average of 9.7 rebounds per game.
"UTA's strengths are their experience and toughness," said White. "They play extremely hard, and they have a bunch of guys that have experienced much success."
The contest will be broadcast live on the LA Tech Sports Network, including KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston), KJVC 92.7 FM (Mansfield) and KVCL 92.1 FM (Winnfield) with the pregame show beginning at 6:30 p.m. The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will do the play-by-play while Jack Thigpen will provide analysis. Fans can also access live audio of the game via the Internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at www.LATechSports.com.
Twitter users can also receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.