Dec. 13, 2013
RUSTON - Back-to-back games versus NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago has resulted in solid back-to-back wins for Louisiana Tech.
Now the Bulldogs face its third straight Big Dancer in No. 7 ranked Oklahoma State on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the 78th All-College Classic in Oklahoma City, Okla. at the Chesapeake Arena, home to the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder.
The matchup will be broadcast on ESPNU and will be streamed on Watch ESPN with Dave Armstrong (play-by-play) and Bryndon Manzer (analyst) calling the action.
After outracing the fast-paced Northwestern State Demons in a 93-71 win this past Wednesday, LA Tech (8-2) will have to recharge its legs as quickly as possible as another high-scoring, uptempo affair is sure to occur when facing OK State (8-1), a team who ranks sixth in the country in points per game with an average of 90.4.
OSU is the highest ranked team the Bulldogs have faced since they squared off against these same Cowboys in 1991 when they were ranked sixth in the nation.
"We are excited about the opportunity to play a really good team," said head coach Michael White. "I think everyone in the locker room feels like we will have a chance if we play great, despite what they are ranked. We have enough pieces and depth that if we get up there and play really well, I expect to be in the thick of things hopefully down the stretch."
Since suffering the 89-80 loss to UL-Lafayette, the Bulldogs have regained their defensive identity, forcing a combined 42 turnovers versus Southern and NSU and turning defense into offense.
Raheem Appleby was a large part of the offense versus the Demons, pouring in a season-high 28 points, 20 of which came in the first half. He continues to anchor the team with an average of 16.8 points per game. Kenneth Smith was a large part of the defense, forcing four steals.
OK State opened the 2013-14 campaign with six straight scoring performances of at least 90 points, the first time in school history that has happened.
The Cowboys returned four starters, including Big 12 Player of the Year and All-American Marcus Smart, off a team that finished in third-place in the Big 12 standings and fell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Smart, a unanimous Associated Preseason All-American this season and potential National Player of the Year, leads the scoring attack with 19.7 ppg, tops in the Big 12 Conference. The Cowboys also feature four other players (Brown, Forte, Nash and Williams) who average in double figures.
Louisiana Tech and Oklahoma State have met three times on the hardwood, all coming in the early 90's. The Cowboys won all three meetings. The two teams played a home-and-home series in 1990 and `91, and played a non-conference game in `93.
This will not be the first time the Bulldogs have played in the world's oldest basketball tournament, predating the NCAA, NBA, NIT and NAIA events.
In 1979, legendary head coach Andy Russo's first year, LA Tech defeated Oklahoma City (79-72) and North Texas (82-74) before falling to Oklahoma.
The Bulldogs returned to the All-College Tournament in OKC in 1984 with a star-studded group that included Karl Malone, Wayne Smith and Willie Simmons.
The team dominated Oklahoma City, 90-62, and fell once again to the mighty Sooners. The last time LA Tech participated in the event was in 1995 when the Bulldogs lost to Florida and Baylor.
In the history of the program, playing ranked teams has not turned out well for the Bulldogs. In fact, LA Tech is only 1-36 all-time versus ranked opponents with the lone win coming on Dec. 7, 1984 when the `Dogs knocked off No. 6 Louisville in the Wendy's Classic in Louisville, Ky. by a score of 73-64.
The Bulldogs have rarely seen ranked opponents on their schedule in recent years as it is. The last ranked team LA Tech faced was on March 5, 2011 against No. 25 Utah State.
The contest will be broadcast live on the LA Tech Sports Network, including KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston), KJVC 92.7 FM (Mansfield) and KTKC 92.9 FM (Springhill) with the pregame show beginning at 12:30 p.m. The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will do the play-by-play while 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 www.LATechSports.com.
Twitter users can also receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.