LA Tech Begins Final Regular Season Road Trip at Charlotte
Feb. 18, 2015
RUSTON - The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs will be packing their travel bags for the final road trip of the regular season which begins on Thursday night at 6 p.m. CT when they play at Charlotte.
The contest between the top two scoring offenses in Conference USA will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network with Dave Ryan and Steve Wolf calling the action.
LA Tech (20-6, 11-2 C-USA) is holding on to the top spot in the league standings after sweeping Florida Atlantic and FIU at home this past weekend.
Turnover margin ended up being the biggest key in both victories as the Bulldogs had a +11 margin in the 65-54 win over the Owls and an incredible +14 margin in the 75-42 blowout victory against the Panthers.
"It was important to go 2-0 and continue with the nice production that we have had at home in front of our fans," head coach Michael White said. "I thought our fans were very helpful on Thursday and Saturday, especially on Saturday when we were a little bit better. We were sharp on Saturday. It was one of our best performances of the year, especially defensively."
The `Dogs were essentially unleashed on defense, especially on Saturday when they forced a season-high 28 turnovers and allowed just 28 percent shooting from the field as well. The 42 points was FIU's lowest scoring output of the season and also the fewest points LA Tech has allowed this season.
Kenneth Smith played a crucial part in the wins as he always does. The senior point guard combined for a 19-1 assist-turnover ratio while also scoring 18 points and registering five steals.
He became the first Bulldog to ever record at least 200 assists in multiple seasons and is currently No. 1 in the country in assists per game (7.9).
A team full of newcomers has suddenly started to find its defensive identity and it will need to carry over to Thursday as Charlotte (11-14, 4-8 C-USA), one of the most talented teams in the league, is tops in scoring offense with an average of 73.6 points per game (LA Tech is second with 73.3 ppg).
"A couple months ago we were rated 150th to 180th in defensive efficiency," White said. "We have jumped up probably 100 spots. It has been a process that has taken some time. Our guys have really bought in and worked. I expect it to continue to improve. Our kids know that it is of the utmost importance. It is what we have hung our hat on here for a while."
The 49ers are also second in field goal percentage (46.6) and first in three-point field goal percentage (38.1).
Most recently, they put up 89 points in an 89-81 road victory against UTSA where they had four players record double figures in scoring led by freshman guard Torrin Dorn. Dorn has been named C-USA Freshman of the Week three times and currently paces Charlotte with 12.2 points per game.
"Ryan Odom and the rest of the staff are doing a good job of holding it together," White said in relation to head coach Alan Major being away for medical reasons. "We anticipate a really good performance by Charlotte. We are going to have to play like we did on Saturday. We are going to have to have a really good performance to have a chance. It is Charlotte and it is on the road. They have had a ton of success at home and have very good players."
On defense, the 49ers are led by C-USA preseason team member Pierria Henry who leads the league in steals with 2.7 per game and recently became the all-time career steals leader at Charlotte.
Last season marked the first time LA Tech and Charlotte ever faced on the hardwood and they did so twice - once in Ruston and once in El Paso for the C-USA Tournament. The Bulldogs prevailed handily in both, winning 80-60 in Ruston and again in the tournament quarterfinals by a score of 86-65.
Fans are 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 action.
Twitter users can receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.
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