FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas Assembly Center (8,000) -- Ruston, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: USM 2-0, LaTech 3-0. Away Record: USM 2-2, LaTech 2-2. Neutral Record: USM 2-0, LaTech 2-0. Conference Record: USM 0-0, LaTech 0-0. Series Record: Southern Miss leads, 41-28.
GAME NOTES: The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs try to keep their perfect home record in tact as they host the Southern Miss Golden Eagles in non-conference action at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs, still with an unblemished record in their own building through three games, had not lost since dropping the season opener to Texas A&M, 71-59, but on Tuesday the squad was dealt an 89-83 setback by Northwestern State which snapped a seven-game win streak.
As for the Golden Eagles, they reeled off five straight wins to begin the season, the first two coming in overtime, but more recently the squad has fallen in back-to-back outings. First there was the 68-60 setback against New Mexico State in Las Cruces last weekend, and then Tuesday saw the squad bow to Arizona in a 63-55 final.
The Golden Eagles lead the all-time series by a count of 41-28 after winning at home in a meeting last season, 78-62. This game is the first regular-season meeting between the two in Ruston since 1982.
Southern Miss led by eight points at the break at Arizona earlier this week, but the Golden Eagles proceeded to shoot only 36.0 percent from the floor in the second half, missing all eight attempts beyond the arc and missing out on an opportunity to get back into the win column as well. Neil Watson, who is currently averaging 7.7 ppg, started against the Wildcats and responded with a team-best 17 points, while Michael Craig responded with 10 points and seven rebounds, but between the two of them they were guilty of eight of the squad's 23 miscues. Already this season the Golden Eagles have played three games in which they've been charged with at least 22 miscues, although in two of those they've also logged at least 12 steals at the other end of the floor in an effort to balance the scales. A 53.5 percent shooter from the floor, Dwayne Davis stands as the lone double-digit scorer with 15.1 ppg, but he is also averaging more than three turnovers per game at the same time.
Louisiana Tech forced 22 turnovers, held Northwestern State to only 5-of-17 shooting behind the three-point line and watched the hosts make good on a mere 16-of-32 at the free-throw line the last time out, and still the Bulldogs came out on the short end of the six-point decision. Kenneth Smith tried to give LaTech a fighting chance by scoring 17 points and handing out nine assists, but he converted only four of his 17 field goal attempts. Raheem Appleby matched Smith in the scoring department, while Alex Hamilton chipped in with 16 points in only 20 minutes of action, but it wasn't enough. Michale Kyser tallied seven points and pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds, yet that only allowed the Bulldogs to match the hosts on the glass, 50-50. Already with a pair of 30-point games this season, Appleby leads the team in scoring with 20.4 ppg, while Smith (7.6 ppg) isn't known so much for his scoring as he is his passing (53 assists). A 42.9 percent three-point shooter, Cordarius Johnson (13.6 ppg) is generally the second option on the LaTech offense.
As long as Appleby and Johnson can find open shots and the rest of the Bulldogs are there to support them, LaTech should be in line for the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 68, Southern Miss 64
12/08 10:31:02 ET
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