Bulldogs and Hilltoppers Vie for Top Spot in C-USA
Jan. 28, 2015
RUSTON - First Place in the Conference USA standings will be on the line Thursday night at 6 p.m. inside the Thomas Assembly Center between Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky.
The two top teams in the league also have the top two scoring offenses (74.2 ppg) and come in with impressive streaks they hope to keep intact.
LA Tech (15-5, 6-1 C-USA) is riding a 22-game home winning streak and has not lost a home conference game in three years. On the other hand, WKU (14-5, 7-0 C-USA) comes into the TAC having won nine straight with its last loss coming on Dec. 20.
The contest will be televised live on CBS Sports Network with John Sadak and Chris Walker calling the action.
"Thursday will be about protecting our home floor," head coach Michael White said. "It will be about trying to do the best we can with regards to channeling the great amount of energy that will be in this building, most towards defending what will be a really good offensive team.
"We have our hands full, but we are excited. We will come out with a lot of energy and be excited about the opportunity."
The Bulldogs hope to carry over their defensive performance from the last game against Rice when they held the Owls to a season-low 45 points and gave up just five made three's to one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country.
Turning opponents over is still a heavy part of the defensive plan, but LA Tech will have to keep it in the road on the boards against one of the top rebounding teams in the league in WKU (38.9 defensive rebounds per game).
Through the first 12 games where the `Dogs were outrebounded in every one, they had a -8.7 rebounding margin. However in the last eight games, they have steadily improved in that category with just a -2.5 rebounding margin.
Offensively, LA Tech continues to rely on its one-two scoring punch of Raheem Appleby and Alex Hamilton who each are averaging 16.7 points per game. They are one of only 14 duos in the country to be averaging at least 16 points per game.
Meanwhile, WKU is having tremendous success in its inaugural season in C-USA. Led by head coach Ray Harper, the Hilltoppers have a powerful duo of their own in George Fant and T.J. Price. The tandem combines for 30 points and 15 rebounds per game.
"[WKU] is good in all areas. They have as good of a one-two punch as there is in our league and arguably one of the better ones in the country. They run good actions, they are disciplined and talented. They are a very good team."
The two teams will renew their conference rivalry after having been foes in the Sun Belt Conference for a decade (1991-2001). For those 10 seasons, the Bulldogs and Hilltoppers faced each other at least twice every season.
LA Tech has won five of the last seven meetings, but all seven games have been decided by 10 points or less.
In a play off of the popular A&E reality TV show Duck Dynasty, Thursday night has been dubbed Dunk Dynasty Night. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a free camo rally towel. There will also be a Duck Dynasty look-alike contest.
Free Johnny's Pizza will be available for the first 200 students.
Fans are also reminded that tickets for the 2015 Conference USA basketball tournament which will be hosted by UAB in Birmingham (March 11-14) are on sale for $180 which includes tickets to every game (both men's and women's sessions). To purchase your tickets to the tournament or to any Louisiana Tech basketball home game, call the Tech Ticket Office at 318-257-3631, email firstname.lastname@example.org or online HERE.
Live audio of the game is available via the Internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at LATechSports.com. The contest can be heard live on the LA Tech Sports Network on KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston) and KJVC 92.7 FM (Mansfield). The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will call the play-by-play while Jack Thigpen provides analysis.
Twitter users can receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.
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