Jan. 23, 2013
RUSTON - "Next man up" has been the unofficial motto of Louisiana Tech men's basketball since WAC play began.
The formula has worked so far as the streaking Bulldogs (16-3, 7-0 WAC) hope to continue their banding efforts out west as they travel to take on the San Jose State Spartans (9-9, 3-4 WAC) in a 9:00 p.m. CT tipoff at The Event Center.
LA Tech's bench support has been the staple for their current eight-game winning streak and their run to the top of the conference standings, and each night it seems it is someone new having a career night.
The `Dogs have had six different players lead them in scoring in the seven WAC games played thus far. In their last game versus Seattle, it was guard Jaron Johnson pouring in a team-high 15 points and grabbing eight rebounds and forward J.L. Lewis providing a defensive spark.
In the home sweep of the last two conference games, the team sputtered out of the gates and relied on their late-game defense to create enough stops to walk away with single-digit wins.
The offensive output of the non-starters has been vital, but head coach Michael White says the team needs more of a collective effort for them to improve on the court and handle the success going forward.
"In five or six of our past eight or nine games, our bench has really bailed us out," coach Michael White added. "I don't think we can continue to depend on that. We need to have a night where we have eight or 10 guys play well, not three or four that are consistently coming off the bench.
The Bulldogs aim to make it five road wins in a row when they face San Jose State who went 6-5 in non-conference action which included a 13-point loss at No. 10 ranked Kansas.
The Spartans then opened up WAC play 3-1 with wins at Texas State, at UTSA and a home win versus Seattle, but have lost their last three at the hands of Utah State, Denver and New Mexico State.
For the past three games, SJSU has been without their leading scorer James Kinney who leads the conference with 20.6 points per game.
In his absence, forward Chris Cunningham has been the leader, averaging almost a double-double this season with 10.6 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game.
"[San Jose State] is as talented of an offensive group as anyone in our league one through five," said coach White. "Their starting five has it all. They have a couple of shooters, they have the best scorer in our league and they are the best offensive rebounding team in our league. They score with their back to the basket and they pound you inside."
LA Tech counters the Spartans offensive attack with the highest scoring offense in the WAC, averaging 73.5 points per game.
On defense, forward Michale Kyser and the rest of the Bulldog frontcourt will be relied upon heavily to slow down the Spartans in the paint.
LA Tech and San Jose State have been conference rivals ever since the Bulldogs joined the WAC in 2001 and have played each other 24 times over that time span, more than any other league team.
In 2010-11, the Spartans swept the season series for the very first time. However, the Bulldogs came back in 2011-12 to sweep the series for the fourth time.
The contest will be broadcast live on the LA Tech Sports Network as well, including KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston), KJVC 92.7 FM (Mansfield) and KVCL 92.1 FM (Winnfield) with the pregame show beginning at 8:30 p.m. The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will call the play-by-play. Fans can also access live audio of the game via the Internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at www.LATechSports.com.
For complete coverage of LA Tech Men's Basketball, please follow @LATechHoops on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at www.LATechSports.com.