@LATechHoops Takes on UTSA in Saturday Tilt
Jan. 9, 2015
RUSTON - After conference wins on the road for Louisiana Tech against Southern Miss and UTEP to start Conference USA play, the Bulldogs will be going for a three-game road sweep on Saturday evening when they travel to San Antonio to face UTSA at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center.
Dating back to last season, LA Tech (11-4, 2-0 C-USA) has won five straight conference road games, but one thing they were unable to do last year was sweep a road weekend in C-USA action.
The Bulldogs made the flight from El Paso where they were as flawless as you can be on defense versus UTEP, allowing just 12 second half points (five made field goals) and outrebounding the bigger Miners roster by two in the 58-45 win.
"Both our starters and our bench have embraced the fact that [defensive focus] has got to be goal number one," head coach Michael White said. "It has got to be each one of our guys biggest job when they are between the lines. It is not about how many shots I can get up or how many I can score or whether or not coach is going to call the next play for me. They have rallied around the defensive side of things to a whole other level the last three or four weeks."
It marked just the second win ever for the Bulldogs over the Miners in El Paso and was the lowest point total for UTEP in a home conference game since 2003. It also marked the fewest points allowed in a single half by LA Tech since 2006 when they held Hawai'i to just 12 points in the second half.
Raheem Appleby missed most of the inaugural C-USA season last year, but is a man on a mission this season, tallying 30 points against the Golden Eagles and 22 points (9-of-12 shooting) against the Miners.
While the `Dogs were flexing their muscle against UTEP, UTSA (7-6, 2-1 C-USA) was picking up its 500th win in program history with a decisive 77-57 win over Southern Miss. The Roadrunners opened the game on a 12-0 run and never trailed.
"We knew coming into the weekend that we had two tough tests," White said. "UTSA is definitely improved. They gave us a heartbreaking loss a couple of years ago. They will be very prepared. I have a lot of respect for their staff and we will have to do whatever we can to hydrate and get enough rest and to overcome the travel in order to give ourselves a chance."
For the season, the Roadrunners have three guys averaging at least 14 points per game, led by senior forward Jeromie Hill who leads the team with 15.1 points per game as well as in rebounds with 7.2 per game. Hill missed all of last season due to a knee injury.
These two teams rank one-two in the league in steals and turnover margin.
History could be made again in the Convocation Center as Kenneth Smith needs only seven assists to become the all-time assists leader in program history. The last historic moment in the arena came two years ago when former Bulldog Kenyon McNeail made a program record-tying nine three-pointers, including the game-winner with 19 seconds left, en route to a 34-point performance.
He returned a year later as a senior with the teams now foes in C-USA and he continued his three-point marksmanship. He went 5-of-9 from three this time for 15 points. Combined, the all-time Bulldog leader in made and attempted three-pointers went 15-of-24 from beyond the arc at UTSA.
Fans can access live audio of the game via the internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at LATechSports.com. The contest can be heard live on the LA Tech Sports Network on KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston), KJVC 92.7 FM (Mansfield) and KTKC 92.9 FM (Springhill). The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will call the action.
Twitter users can receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.
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