Dec. 30, 2012
RUSTON - In Louisiana Tech's first ever Western Athletic Conference Championship game last season, the Bulldogs were overpowered by New Mexico State in a 25-point loss. They will look to redeem themselves tomorrow night on New Year's Eve as they collide with the Aggies at 7 p.m. inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
LA Tech's (10-3, 1-0) struggles with New Mexico State (6-7, 0-1) go back even further with that Finals battle in Las Vegas, Nev. at the Orleans Arena. The Bulldogs also dropped both regular season contests and have now lost seven straight to the WAC preseason favorites.
"They are a very, very good team," said head coach Michael White. "They are definitely one of the best teams in our league. [Their head coach] Marvin Menzies has done a tremendous job. They represented our league last year in the NCAA Tournament which was our dream and our ultimately goal."
After leading the team in scoring for the eighth time this season, guard Raheem Appleby continues to pave the way for the Bulldogs offensively averaging 17.3 per game which currently ranks third in the conference.
Bench play has also been a huge factor in the Bulldogs recent success, especially in the backcourt with guards Kenyon McNeail and Alex Hamilton who saw their most action this season last night against the Pioneers.
After the 68-60 win over Denver in what was the start of their last season in the WAC, it extended their home winning streak to nine games dating back to last season.
At home is the only place LA Tech has been successful against New Mexico State with all three of their program wins over the Aggies coming in the TAC.
For LA Tech to pull out only their fourth victory in 19 tries against New Mexico State, they will need a big game from their frontcourt players like Michale Kyser and J.L. Lewis against the massive lineup of the Aggies.
The Aggies are led by two senior forwards in Tyrone Watson and Bandja Sy who each average over five rebounds per game. They will also rely on their 7-foot-5-inch, 360 lb. freshman center Sim Bhullar who recently scored a career-high 25 points in a win over Missouri State.
Offensively, New Mexico State is led by first-team preseason All-WAC guard Daniel Mullings who averages 14.2 points per game.
The Aggies had a busy non-conference schedule just like the Bulldogs, playing 12 games to tie for the most in the WAC, but it has been a tale of two records thus far. They are 5-1 at home, but just 1-6 away from Las Cruces, N.M.
They recently faltered in their WAC season opener on the road at UT Arlington by a score of 68-47.
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 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 and video 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.