Bulldogs and Demons Square Off in Natchitoches
Dec. 1, 2014
RUSTON - Louisiana Tech will attempt to buck the trend of the home team always winning on Tuesday night when they take the short bus trip to Natchitoches to face in-state foe Northwestern State at 6:30 p.m. inside Prather Coliseum.
Since the rivalry was renewed in 2009, the home team has won all five times with LA Tech (5-1) being victorious three times in Ruston and NSU (3-3) coming out on top twice in its arena.
The matchup has essentially become a hard-fought battle each season on the hardwood between the Bulldogs and Demons. NSU won by less than seven points in 2010 and 2012, and it took double overtime for LA Tech to gain the victory in 2011.
"Northwestern State is very good," head coach Michael White said. "I have a lot of respect for their program and coach McConathy who is a great man and a great coach. We have similar styles. They are comfortable playing up-tempo. They are going to press and really push it, especially offensively.
"We are trying to do the same thing. They are guard-oriented like we are. I know they will be really prepared and hopefully we will be equally as prepared."
Last season, the Bulldogs outraced the Demons to a 93-71 win behind a 28-point performance by Raheem Appleby and the defense forcing 19 turnovers.
Appleby is coming off a 20-point effort in the 77-64 win against Samford, bumping his scoring average up to a team-high 16.5 per game. In his three times of facing the Demons, the senior guard is averaging 20.7 points per game.
However, the spotlight may very well be on the battle of point guards between LA Tech's Kenneth Smith and NSU's Jalan West. Last season, these two were the only players in the country who ranked in the top 10 in assists per game and steals per game.
The two highly-touted players have stepped up their games when facing each other the past two seasons with Speedy averaging 14.5 points, 10.5 assists, five rebounds and four steals per game and West averaging 19.5 points, six assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
Much like LA Tech's big three with Appleby, Smith and Kyser, the Demons have their big three with Marvin Frazier and Zeek Woodley to go along with West.
Woodley is averaging a ridiculous 22.5 points per game while West is averaging 11.7 points per game to go along with 8.8 assists. Frazier is the third Demon averaging double figures in scoring with 11.0 points per game.
"Jalan West and Zeek Woodley are two really good guards," White said. "They are not good guards in the Southland, they are good guards in the Big 12, Conference USA or anywhere. We will have to try and slow those guys down to put ourselves in a position to hopefully be competitive. Transition defense will be huge. We have to value the ball at a much higher level."
NSU has won all three games at home (Lyon College, LSU-A and Missouri Valley) and lost all three games on the road (Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Texas Tech).
Both teams are also averaging over 80 points per game in the last five meetings combined and the 143rd meeting on Tuesday night is bound to have many of the same fireworks as coach White and Co. tries to outduel coach McConathy, an All-American for the Bulldogs in the mid-70's and one of just two players in LA Tech history with over 2,000 career points.
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 play-by-play and Jack Thigpen will provide analysis. Fans can also access live audio of the game via the Internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at LATechSports.com.
Twitter users can also receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.
Links to live stats and a live video stream can be found on the schedule page.
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