LA Tech Goes for Outright Title on Senior Night
March 4, 2015
RUSTON - Michale Kyser, Raheem Appleby and Kenneth Smith will play in front of their home fans one more time in the Thomas Assembly Center when they take on Southern Miss on Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the regular season finale.
The contest will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network with John Sadak and Chris Walker calling the action.
For LA Tech (23-7, 14-3 C-USA) there is a lot at stake. Having already clinched a share of their third straight regular season title, a victory would give the Bulldogs their first outright championship since 1999 and would clinch the No. 1 seed in the Conference USA Tournament.
For the trio of seniors specifically, a victory would also mean them officially becoming the winningest players in program history. It would be another feather in the cap of what has been incredible collegiate careers for the trio.
"Hopefully we can keep all of our emotions in check," head coach Michael White said. "We just need to keep focus on the task at hand more than anything. Hopefully we have something to celebrate after the game. We want to celebrate these guys, but at the same time do what we can to play well and win.
"These seniors are family and are very special to Louisiana Tech and especially to me and my staff."
LA Tech put itself in this situation by outlasting UTSA on Saturday, 76-66, for their 28th consecutive home win, the fourth longest active streak in the nation. It certainly did not come easy as the Bulldogs' 12-point advantage in the second half was erased by the Roadrunners who took a one-point lead with nine minutes to play.
However, that was when the senior Speedy took charge, hitting back-to-back three-pointers and later hitting a running floater in the paint to spark a 10-0 run to notch the win.
The home team could find themselves in for another tough battle on Thursday versus Southern Miss (9-19, 4-13 C-USA). Despite having players ruled ineligible and making the decision to withhold itself from postseason competition and suffering losses in 13 of 14 games, USM still has a lot of fight as they have turned things around to win three of its last five.
"Southern Miss can be a dangerous team," White said. "They have had to overcome a ton of adversity. They have two or three guys that can really score. We will have to prepare at a high level. Our focus all week will be on how we can beat Southern Miss, not solely on senior night and definitely not on the conference tournament."
The most impressive win for the Golden Eagles came last Saturday when they erased a 24-point deficit in the final 11 minutes to knock off the UTEP Miners, 63-60, in what was their largest comeback in school history.
Chip Armelin, the team's leading scorer, registered 16 points in the victory. The senior guard from Louisiana leads C-USA in scoring in league games only with an average of 18.6 points per game.
LA Tech made history last time the two teams faced off which was on Jan. 3 in Hattiesburg. The Bulldogs had lost eight straight in Reed Green Coliseum dating back 43 years, but came away with the 83-70 win behind a season-high 30 points by Appleby.
It is the stripe out game where fans are encouraged to wear red or blue depending on their seating section. The first 2,000 fans receive a free commemorative senior poster. There will also be free Johnny's pizza for the first 200 students and one lucky full-time student will win 500 dollars.
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 and Jack Thigpen will call the action.
Twitter users can receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.
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