LA Tech Looks to Bounce Back Thursday Night Versus Charlotte
Jan. 22, 2014
RUSTON - In the three times this season Louisiana Tech has come off a loss they have bounced back the next game in winning fashion.
Now the Bulldogs will look to do so again coming off its first Conference USA defeat as they return home to face Charlotte on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
LA Tech (15-4, 3-1 C-USA) and Charlotte (12-5, 3-1 C-USA) are in a five-way tie for second place in the league.
"Coming off a loss I expect us to be that much better," said head coach Michael White. "We will be really hungry for a win Thursday night. That said we have to play well in addition. We have a lot of respect for Charlotte and their talent level and how good they are on both ends."
This game could very well come down to the three-pointer. The 49ers rank first in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (38.5) whereas the `Dogs rank first in three-point field goal percentage defense (27.3).
In the first conference road weekend, LA Tech easily handled Tulane in a 73-45 win but could not find success in Hattiesburg with an 80-71 loss to the Golden Eagles.
The Bulldogs were able to limit both opponents from beyond the arc though as the Green Wave were 0-of-14 from downtown and USM only converted 2-of-18 three's.
Point guard Kenneth Smith is a key component in limiting opponents from long range. He paces the team with 43 steals this season, the 15th most in the country.
Smith has also stepped it up offensively since the loss of leading scorer Raheem Appleby, averaging 9.0 points per game, not to mention 8.7 assists per game in getting the rest of his team involved in scoring.
"[Speedy] is shooting the ball a lot better," said White. "He knows that he needs to step up when need be, especially with Raheem Appleby out. He continues to get guys shots. He is getting into the paint a little bit more.
"We need him to continue to create havoc defensively as well and help us by being a post defender on the perimeter, trying to negate post touches with his pressure. Then he has to help us rebound as all of our guards need to do."
Alex Hamilton is pacing the team in Appleby's absence with 15.3 points per game.
Charlotte started out the year with seven wins in its first eight games, including victories over Kansas State and then No. 13/14 Michigan to take the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Championship.
Lately, the 49ers have found some heroics late in the games to come away with conference wins. At home against Tulsa, they trailed by eight points with 1:16 left to go before closing the game with a 13-5 run to send the game into overtime which they eventually won 90-86.
It happened again the following home game versus North Texas when guard Terrence Williams scored eight of the team's final 10 points, including the game-winning basket at the buzzer, to defeat the Mean Green 76-74.
Williams is one of four 49ers who averages double-figures in scoring. Forward Willie Clayton is averaging 11.8 points per game as well as 9.2 rebounds per game, good for second in the league.
He is also first in the league in offensive rebounding (4.41), a stat which the Bulldog players will be well aware of after giving up 19 offensive rebounds to Southern Miss which turned into 22 second chance points.
"You go into a game against a team like [Southern Miss] and a team like Charlotte, you can't miss any block outs," said White. "[USM] was the aggressor on the interior offensively and on the glass."
Thursday will be Alumni Day at the Thomas Assembly Center as all LA Tech alums can get discounted tickets by using the promo code "Alumni" online or by calling the Tech Ticket Office at 318-257-3631.
Free Johnny's Pizza, courtesy of Campus Evolution Villages, will also be given to the first 200 students in attendance.
The contest can be heard live on the LA Tech Sports Network on KXKZ 107.5 FM and KJVC 92.7 FM. The pregame show will start at 6 p.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.
Twitter users can also receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.
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