Dec. 28, 2012
RUSTON - After the completion of a grueling non-conference schedule and a much-needed hiatus from basketball over Christmas break, Louisiana Tech (9-3) returns to the Thomas Assembly Center to launch their last season of WAC play this Saturday night on Karl Malone Court against the Denver Pioneers (4-6) at 7:05 p.m.
The matchup will be broadcast on ESPN Regional (ERT) and Cox Sports Television and will be streamed on ESPN3 with Trey Bender (play-by-play) and Stephen Howard (analyst) calling the action.
The demanding 12-game stretch culminated on Dec. 17 in Little Rock, Ark. with the Bulldogs winning in nail-biting fashion over the UALR Trojans, 75-73.
The dogfight of a victory came on the heels of their fourth road contest in five games and ended the Trojans seven-game home winning streak.
"Winning at UALR was significant for many reasons," said head coach Michael White. "Most importantly, it was a road win against a solid team who is really good at home."
Appleby had a game-high 17 points, including a made free throw with 16.2 seconds remaining to put the `Dogs up by two. McNeail was equally as vital going a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line and draining a late three-pointer in the game.
Now with non-conference in their rear view mirror, the Bulldogs have their sights set on the Pioneers who are new to the Western Athletic Conference but not new to playing the Bulldogs in a conference game.
The Pioneers enter Saturday's contest having won three of their last four games. Denver has shot 56.4 percent from the field during that same time span and currently lead the WAC in scoring defense (58.5 ppg) and free throw percentage (.752).
"Denver, first of all, is a really good team," said White. "They returned four starters from a team that won 22 games last year. They are very complex offensively, and their zone defense is really effective.
"They are very different from anyone else that we'll play this year, so we hope to be able to find some rhythm against them as early as possible."
The Pioneers will try to do something they have yet to do this season and that is win on the road. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have not lost in the TAC this season and have won eight straight at home dating back to last season.
The contest will be broadcast live on the LA Tech Sports Network, including KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston), KJVC 92.7 FM (Mansfield) and KVCL 92.1 FM (Winnfield) with the pregame show beginning at 6:30 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.