First League Road Test Up Next for Bulldogs
Jan. 13, 2016
RUSTON – Louisiana Tech begins a three-game road swing on Thursday night when the Bulldogs return to the Sunshine State to take on FIU at 6 p.m. CT at FIU Arena.
This will mark the first league road game of the season for LA Tech (13-3, 2-1 C-USA) who opened Conference USA play at home for the first three contests.
In some ways, it will not feel like a road game with the Bulldogs having five players from the state of Florida. One in particular is Derric Jean who is from Miami and starred at McArthur High School.
There is also head coach Eric Konkol who is plenty familiar with south Florida as well after spending the last four seasons as an assistant coach for the Hurricanes.
“We have a lot of guys from Florida so we will be down in south Florida and will see a lot of their families at the games,” Konkol said. “They are excited about this conference race and playing different teams every weekend. There is no question they are looking forward to this opportunity.”
After starting C-USA action with a victory over Southern Miss, the Bulldogs split the second weekend with a loss to Old Dominion and an overtime win versus Charlotte.
The two games were a major contract. Against ODU, LA Tech had its worst shooting performance in what was a defensive dogfight. Two days later, the ‘Dogs had their best shooting performance in an offensive shootout, going 57 percent from the field and 58 percent from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs want to have more of a complete game on Thursday as they lead the league in scoring offense at 80.6 points per game, led by Alex Hamilton (18.4), Erik McCree (16.8) and a rising Dayon Griffin (10.0) who had a career-high 28 points versus the 49ers.
On defense, LA Tech wants to ramp up the pressure. They are still first in the league in turnover margin (+3.50) despite only forcing 10 turnovers in each game this past weekend.
FIU (8-8, 2-1 C-USA) is playing some of its best basketball of the season, having won four of its last five meetings including league victories over Florida Atlantic and WKU. The lone loss came at Marshall this past Saturday.
“FIU has got a really good post presence,” Konkol said. “Adrian Diaz is an elite shot blocker. They also have two other players who can score it. We have to do a really good job of limiting their inside baskets. They also are a stingy defensive team. They have gotten better and better. We have to do a terrific job of not turning the ball over and getting great shots.”
The Panthers rank second in C-USA in field goal percentage defense (39.2) and three-point field goal percentage defense (30.5), both of which rank in the top 40 nationally.
On offense, they have three players who average at least 14 points per game, led by Adrian Diaz. The preseason all-conference center is averaging 15.8 points and 9.1 boards per game. He is also averaging 3.4 blocks per game which is tops in the country.
LA Tech leads the all-time series, 5-3. The two teams split the season series three times when foes in the Sun Belt Conference from 1998-2001. The Bulldogs have won both meetings in Ruston as C-USA opponents.
Fans can watch the game on the C-USA Digital Network and 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) and KRMD 1340 AM (Shreveport). The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will call the play-by-play.
Twitter users can also receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.
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