March 13, 2013
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Louisiana Tech will be competing as the No. 1 seed in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament for the first time ever when they take on No. 9 seed UTSA on Thursday, March 14 at 8 p.m. CT inside the Orleans Arena.
Despite dropping the last two games of the regular season at New Mexico State and at Denver, LA Tech (26-5, 16-2 WAC) won its first ever share of the WAC regular season championship and earned the top seed due to having a higher RPI (tiebreaker) than the Pioneers.
"[We are] excited about the opportunity to get back on the right track," said head coach Michael White. "I'm pleased with our focus level and our kids seem excited to finally be in position again to take that next step. Hopefully, the last two games will help us regain a little bit of a chip on our shoulder, but at the same time I hope that we can regain our confidence level."
The Bulldogs advanced to the tournament finals last season for the first time in their 12-year history in the league. This season the `Dogs want to complete their mission of winning three games in three days in Las Vegas.
The mission starts tomorrow night versus UTSA (9-21, 3-14 WAC) who advanced to the quarterfinals after a mild upset over No. 8 seed San Jose State. The Roadrunners went wire-to-wire for the 67-49 victory over the Spartans.
"UTSA is a very dangerous team," said White. "They have tremendous guard play and an ability to stretch the defense. We'll have to defend the three and be able to attack their changing defenses."
Forward Jeremie Hill posted a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds, both of which were game-highs.
Hill (13.0 ppg) is one of three starters who averages double-figures in scoring, along with Kannon Burrage (17.2 ppg) and third team All-WAC selection Michael Hale III (15.9 ppg).
LA Tech swept the season series against UTSA in what were two completely different games.
In San Antonio, it took a program-tying record nine three-pointers by guard Kenyon McNeail off the bench to salvage a 73-71 win. The Conway, Ark. native poured in a career-high 34 points and made his ninth and final three with 19 seconds left to give the Bulldogs the lead and ultimately the victory.
In Ruston, LA Tech raced out to an early 9-0 lead and never looked back in the decisive 74-49 victory. Four different Bulldog players scored in double digits that night and eight different players grabbed at least four rebounds in the all-around win.
In the two games combined, the LA Tech bench has been the key as they have outscored UTSA's bench 93-6.
UTSA is competing in its first and last WAC Tournament as the Roadrunners joined the league this year after being a member of the Southland Conference. Following this season, UTSA will join LA Tech in the move to Conference USA.
The Bulldogs are 6-10 all-time in the WAC Tournament and are on a three-game winning streak in quarterfinal matchups.
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 7:30 p.m. CT. The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will call the play-by-play while Malcolm Butler will provide analysis.
Fans can also access live audio of the game via the Internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at www.LATechSports.com. Fans can purchase a video/audio subscription for every game in the tournament through www.WACSports.com.
Twitter users can also receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.