LA Tech Returns Home to Face Rice
Jan. 18, 2017
RUSTON – Coming off two road victories in conference play, Louisiana Tech looks to keep the momentum going when they return home to face Rice on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.
LA Tech (12-6, 4-1 C-USA) is currently in a three-way tie for second place in the C-USA standings, this after sweeping a road weekend for just the second time since joining the league in 2013-14.
The Bulldogs held on for a 79-73 win at Charlotte and turned around two days later to lead wire-to-wire for a 75-63 victory over Old Dominion in Norfolk.
Going up against the fourth-ranked scoring defense in the country in the Monarchs, the Bulldogs managed to shoot 57 percent from the field (the highest percentage allowed by ODU this season). Freshman DaQuan Bracey was a big reason for that, going 7-of-8 for a career-high 21 points to go along with eight assists.
The point guard was named C-USA Freshman of the Week and LSWA Player of the Week for his performances in the two contests, averaging 17.5 points, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals in the victories.
LA Tech made a conscience effort of getting the ball inside, totaling 81 paint points while shooting only nine three-pointers in each game. Prior to that, the lowest total of three-pointers in a single game was 17.
The Bulldogs continue to rank highly in a number of statistical categories. Arguably the most impressive is being ranked 38th in the country in field goal percentage (48.0) and 45th in the country in field goal percentage defense (40.2). The team is currently one of only 10 in the nation ranked in the top 50 in both.
LA Tech’s defense will be put to the test on Thursday against Rice (12-6, 2-3 C-USA) who is one of the most efficient teams in Division I when it comes to offense. They rank 19th in the nation in scoring offense with an average of 83.8 points per contest. Much of their damage comes from three-point range as they average 9.2 made threes a game.
The Owls are currently in a three-way tie for eighth in the league standings but could easily be at the top had a few close games gone their way. They have suffered three conference losses to Old Dominion by six, to league-leader Middle Tennessee by three and to reigning regular season champion UAB which came in overtime.
They are led by the trio of Egor Koulechov, Marcus Evans (C-USA Freshman of the Week last season) and Marcus Jackson who combine to score 51.6 points per game. Koulechov has been the anchor this season, posting 19.9 points and 8.4 rebounds on average. He leads all of Division I in three-point field goal percentage, shooting 55.4 percent from behind the arc.
LA Tech leads the all-time series over Rice, 13-5. Each team has dominated a stretch of the series which started in 1974 with the Bulldogs winning in overtime in the Pacemaker Classic in Monroe.
LA Tech strung together six straight wins to start the series, including the first two meetings as league foes in the WAC in 2001-02, before Rice won five of the next six.
Since the two became conference foes again, this time in Conference USA in 2013-14, the Bulldogs have won all six meetings. The last meeting was a memorable one for LA Tech has Alex Hamilton recorded just the third triple-double in program history in an 88-69 win.
Fans can access live video via the Internet by subscribing to CUSA.tv. The game can also be heard live on the LA Tech Sports Network on KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston) as well as on the LA Tech X Mobile app. The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will call the play-by-play and Jack Thigpen will provide analysis.
Twitter users can receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.
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