GAME NOTES: The ULM Warhawks and the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns close out the regular season against each other this evening, as the two Sun Belt Conference rivals meet in Lafayette.
As far as ULM is concerned, the sooner this season ends, the better. It has been one of the worst teams in the country, winning just two of 28 games, and it sits in last place in the Sun Belt with a 1-14 league ledger. The Warhawks are in the midst of an 11-game losing streak, which includes a 94-61 waxing at the hands of first-place Middle Tennessee on Thursday.
Louisiana is having a decent season at 16-13 overall and 10-5 in Sun Belt action, and with a win today and some help the team still has a chance at overtaking Arkansas-Little Rock for first place in the league's West Division. It has been especially impressive at the Cajundome this year, winning 10 of 13 games. The Cajuns have won two of their last three overall, including a 57-53 decision versus North Texas last Saturday.
Louisiana has doubled up ULM in the all-time series, 42-21, and the Cajuns have won the last three meetings and haven't lost to the Warhawks in Lafayette since the 1977-78 season.
ULM honored its departing players with Senior Night prior to Thursday's game, but the celebration did not last long as it lost at home by 33 points. The Warhawks shot a respectable 20-of-43 from the field but they turned the ball over 17 times and allowed Middle Tennessee to connect on 58.3 percent of its total shots and 10-of-19 of its three-point tries. Fred Brown and Hugh Mingo played their final home game and scored 13 points and 12 points, respectively. ULM has the Sun Belt's worst offense, averaging a mere 59.7 ppg at 40.5 percent field goal efficiency. Brown paces the club with 12.6 ppg, and Charles Winborne chips in with 10.9 ppg, but no other player registers double digits in the scoring column. ULM also has the second-worst defense in the SBC, allowing opponents to score 72.1 ppg on 46 percent accuracy from the floor.
Louisiana won last Saturday behind another outstanding defensive effort, as the usually-potent North Texas attack managed just a 29.2 percent shooting effort, and the 53 points allowed to the Mean Green was the second-fewest permitted to an opponent all season. The stellar defensive showing helped mask an ugly 17-of-52 shooting night for the Cajuns, who rank fourth in the conference in scoring (69.1 ppg). Darshawn McClellan tallied 13 points as one of the lone bright spots for the squad on offense. On the season, Josh Brown is the only player to average double digits in points at 10.3 ppg, but six others chip in with at least 6.4 ppg. Brown also paces the club and is tied for fourth in the Sun Belt in rebounding at 6.5 rpg. Louisiana has trouble taking care of the ball at times, ranking next-to-last in the league in turnover margin (-2.41).
Louisiana has a lot riding on this game, both in terms of the standings and its desire to send its seniors off with one more win on their home court. ULM has all but checked out this season, making this one rather easy to predict.