Jan. 18, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Ever since Louisiana Tech's season ended last year in Reed Green Coliseum at the hands of Southern Miss, the Bulldogs have known they were joining Conference USA where they would eventually get their rematch with the Golden Eagles.
That day has come and it is Sunday at 12 p.m. in a nationally-televised game on FS1 with Adam Alexander calling the play by play and Dan Bonner as the analyst.
It can also be heard live on the LA Tech Sports Network on KNBB 97.7 FM, KTKC 92.9 FM and KJVC 92.7 FM. The pregame show will start at 11:30 a.m. with the "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz doing play by play and Jack Thigpen doing analysis. Fans can also access live audio of the game via the Internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at www.LATechSports.com.
This will be the 72nd time that Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss square off on the hardwood, making it the longest rivalry outside the state of Louisiana for the Bulldogs.
However, this will be the second time that the two schools will be conference foes. From 1948-52, the Bulldogs and Golden Eagles battled it out in the Gulf States Conference and now they will do the same in C-USA.
Both LA Tech (15-3, 3-0 C-USA) and USM (15-3, 2-1 C-USA) enter the contest with identical overall records and with exactly five points in one of the two national top 25 polls.
Both teams are shooting 47 percent from the field. Both teams have a rebounding margin of six-plus.
Both teams make their living on the defensive side of the ball as well, but that is where the similarities stop.
LA Tech does it with full court, man-to-man pressure which has limited its three conference opponents so far to an average of just 53 points per game and a meager 35 percent field goal shooting.
The latest example was this past Thursday night at Tulane when LA Tech held the Green Wave to just 10 made field goals as well as forcing 17 turnovers in the 28-point victory, handing them their worst home loss in eight years.
"Our guys have had a good mentality defensively," said White. "Creating turnovers along with Mike's presence at the rim have been the keys. We'll have to be really good defensively with Raheem out. Speedy is crucial to this team's success on both ends. He's playing at a high level right now."
On the other hand, Southern Miss applies a unique half court zone for the entire game. For the season, the Golden Eagles are allowing just 62.9 points per game, the best among league teams and 32nd best in the country.
Just like the Bulldogs with Smith, USM's point guard Neil Watson runs the show as he leads the team in scoring (11.4). He also leads C-USA and is fifth in the country in free throw percentage (92.2) to go along with a team-best 3.8 assists per game.
"USM is terrific defensively, both in transition and with its zone," said White. "They have good quickness and strength. They are very physical and play very hard. We got off to a slow start last season down here, which we'll obviously try to avoid. We'll have to be good for 40 minutes to have a chance in a hostile environment."
This game will likely come down to who has the most success offensively, and this is where LA Tech will try to utilize its depth much like it did in the last win with Jaron Johnson and Kenyon McNeail both registering 14 points on eight combined three's.
Twitter users can also receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.