Feb. 6, 2013
RUSTON - This past Saturday, a season-high crowd of 5,024 fans cheered on as Louisiana Tech reeled off their 11th straight win.
The Bulldogs hope for another packed Thomas Assembly Center on Thursday night as they play host to UTSA in a 7:00 p.m. tipoff.
LA Tech (19-3, 10-0 WAC) has now won 13 straight home games in the friendly confines of the TAC, tied for the 11th longest active streak in the country.
"It is really rewarding for the program," said head coach Michael White about the growing attendance. "It is just great for Louisiana Tech and our kids that the numbers are starting to increase and the ones that are coming have gotten a little bit louder, a little bit more energetic. They've fed to our kids energy level at times, and I've thought that how loud and how energetic our crowd was, early on [against UT Arlington], really helped get us going."
The 64-51 victory over the Mavericks came after a bye on Thursday which provided the Bulldogs extra practice time to make continuous strides on the basketball court that carried over into the game.
"In looking at the film against UTA, I thought we were pretty sharp in a lot of areas," said White. "We were pretty close to spreading that thing out a few times. Offensively, we were a little bit better against a really good defensive team and, defensively, I thought we were really good.
"I thought we used screens better. I thought that we set better screens. I thought we made better decisions with the ball, we took better shots and when you are playing against a team that is that good defensively, sometimes you'll take 37 percent from the field."
LA Tech's next opponent UTSA (5-16, 1-10 WAC) is in last place in the WAC standings, but five of their 10 conference losses have been decided by four points or less, including the 73-71 loss to the Bulldogs which came on Jan. 12 in San Antonio, Texas.
"We struggled to really guard [UTSA] off the bounce," said White. "[UTSA head coach] Brooks Thompson does a great job. Their guards are really good. They spread you with four or five guards. We can't overpressure them like we can with other teams. We've got to find a way to get interior scoring because, again, their strength is their perimeter, offensively and defensively. Whether it's off post-ups or getting it to the rim off the bounce or off offensive rebounds, we have to find a way to score in the paint against a smaller team."
The frontcourt of Chris Anderson, Isaiah Massey, J.L. Lewis and Michale Kyser will try to help provide the `Dogs with more points in the paint. Kyser's rebounding ability on the offensive glass will play a big factor as he currently ranks third in the WAC in that department, averaging 3.0 per game.
The Roadrunners have three players who average in double figures, including the WAC-leading scorer Kannon Burrage who averages 18.0 per game.
Their other top scorer is 5-foot-9-inch point guard Michale Hale III who average 16.2 per game.
Both Hale and Burrage took a combined 45 shots in their most recent game versus New Mexico State, a 75-62 loss, while playing almost every minute of the contest.
A key stat to the game may very well be UTSA's three-point offense versus LA Tech's three-point defense. The Roadrunners average 7.76 made three-pointers per game which ranks second in the WAC, but the Bulldogs are 15th in the country in three-point percentage defense by only allowing 28.7 percent from beyond the arc.
The Thursday night contest is being dubbed as "Mardi Gras Madness" which will include free king cake to all fans, while supplies last, at the main and student entrance of the TAC (sponsored by LA Tech SGA) and free LA Tech beads thrown out during the game. A talented local tumbling group will also perform at halftime.
Free pizza will also be available to the first 200 students by showing their ID at the concessions stand. A 250 dollar gift card will be awarded to the student who finds the baby in the king cake and a trophy will be presented to the "Most Mardi Gras Festive" student organization (sponsored by LA Tech IFC).
The contest will be broadcast live on the LA Tech Sports Network, including KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston) and KJVC 92.7 FM (Mansfield) with the pregame show beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT. The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will call the play-by-play while Jack Thigpen will provide analysis. Fans can also access live video and audio of the game via the Internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at www.LATechSports.com. For ticket information, call 318-257-3631, email firstname.lastname@example.org or log onto 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.