Updated Feb 8, 2003 17:15:25
Bulldogs Prepare For
RUSTON -- Louisiana Tech basketball coach Keith Richard and his staff were hard at work Friday afternoon preparing the Bulldogs for what is called their biggest game of the year.
The Bulldogs will play host to San Jose State in Western Athletic Conference action at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Thomas Assembly Center.
Tech has won three straight, all in the TAC, and stands at 8-9 overall and 5-5 in the WAC while San Jose State is 5-14 and 2-8.
The Spartans have dropped two straight and Tech defeated SJSU 80-67 on Jan. 9 in San Jose, Cal. But that doesn't mean Richard feels his team has an easy road to a fourth consecutive victory.
"This is our biggest game of the year," Richard said. "San Jose is a well-coached and dangerous team. They've already beaten two of the better teams in the conference in Hawaii and Tulsa. Any slip on our part and they'll clip us."
Tech is coming off a thrilling 66-65 win over Hawaii on Thursday, which was part of the reason Richard and his staff were working so hard with their team Friday afternoon.
"That was a big win, but if we don't put the Hawaii game behind us we'll be primed for a fall," Richard said. "It's the coaches job to get the players' heads right and focused on San Jose State, so we've got some work to do."
Richard said the biggest key for the Bulldogs is to forget about any win streaks and to concentrate on the season one game at a time starting with San Jose State.
"It's not like we're 10-0 in the conference or anything," Richard said. "We're still trying to climb out of the early hole we dug for ourselves. Every game counts big from here on out, so we'll need to be at our best against San Jose."
Richard said that while he was happy to be playing the game within the friendly confines of the Thomas Assembly Center, that still doesn't make for an easy Tech win.
"This has been a strange year in the WAC because the teams in this conference have shown that they can go on the road and win big games," Richard said. "We've lost two conference games at home already, so we can't afford another."
Senior forward Antonio Meeking leads the Bulldogs with 19.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while senior guard Lavelle Felton is adding 12.9 points,5.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per contest.
The Bulldogs have also received solid play in recent games from senior forward Zach Johnson, who has started the last two contests and who hit the game-winning free throws last Thursday against Hawaii. Johnson had his first double-double of the season against Hawaii with 13 points and 12 rebounds and is averaging 4.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest.
San Jose State is led by senior guard Brandon Hawkins with 11.8 ppg while junior guard Keith West is hitting for 10.8 ppg and freshman forward Antonio Lawrence is chipping in with 10.5 ppg.
Tech won't get much of a break following the San Jose State game as the Bulldogs play host to Tulsa at 7 p.m. Monday in the TAC.
The Louisiana Tech-San Jose State game will be broadcast live on KXKZ 107.5 FM in Ruston and the Louisiana Tech Sports Network.