Back in the TAC for the Bulldogs on Thursday Night
Jan. 27, 2016
RUSTON – After a three-game road stretch, Louisiana Tech is back in the Thomas Assembly Center for a Thursday night contest versus UTSA with tipoff coming at 6:30 p.m.
It has been almost three weeks since LA Tech (14-5, 3-3 C-USA) has played at home. The Bulldogs hope to carry the momentum of their first road win in league play while also keeping pace in the Conference USA race as they sit in fifth place with a third of the schedule done.
The ‘Dogs needed to bounce back in a big way after the first road weekend produced two disappointing losses in the state of Florida. That is exactly what they did with a 70-59 win at Southern Miss.
Redshirt junior Erik McCree was also in need of a bounce back performance. The forward averages 16 points per game but had been limited to 14 points total before breaking out with 25 points and 10 rebounds. It marked the fourth time this season he has scored at least 25 in a single game.
“We always need Erik,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “He is a big part of this team. He was motivated to have a great game Saturday. He had all week to practice and prepare and spent a lot of time in the gym like he always does. He was in a really good place mentally and was ready to go and had a great performance.”
Meanwhile, the Bulldog defense continues to get better after producing their third league game (out of six) where they held the opponent to under 60 points, a feat no other C-USA team has done.
Part of the success has been the team’s improvement in the rebounding category as they have out-rebounded their opponent in three straight games.
“We want to be a very good defensive team,” Konkol said. “We have done it different ways throughout conference play whether it might be forcing more turnovers or rebounding better. We have spent more time defensively in practice than we have offensively because we feel like it gives us the best chance to be successful.”
Defense will be a major key against UTSA (4-16, 2-5 C-USA) who has the ability to score in bunches. The Roadrunners are currently tied for 11th in the C-USA standings with wins over Rice and UTEP.
Since posting a four-point win over the Miners, they have dropped back-to-back games to FIU and Florida Atlantic which was an 86-71 setback.
“UTSA has three guards that can really score it,” Konkol said. “They play a very up-tempo style and play in space. They really attack you with the dribble and they can make threes. They have post players that can shoot the ball as well. We have to bring it every night because there is a lot of talent in this league.
UTSA is led by senior guard Ryan Bowie who averages 16.5 points per game while shooting 40.4 percent from three-point range. He also averages 7.2 rebounds per game. All three stats rank in the top 10 in C-USA.
Thursday will be the 11th meeting in the series. The Bulldogs have won three straight and are a perfect 4-0 at home against the Roadrunners.
It will be Coaches vs. Cancer night as the coaching staffs will wear suits and sneakers as part of the initiative. Fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of cancer awareness. The American Cancer Society will be on hand to collect donations at each entrance.
There will also be free pizza given to the first 200 students in attendance.
Fans can access live video and audio of the game via the Internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at LATechSports.com. The game 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 and Jack Thigpen will provide analysis.
Twitter users can also receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.
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