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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 7, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas Assembly Center (8,098) -- Ruston, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: UTSA 1-7, Louisiana Tech 9-0. Away Record: UTSA 3-8, Louisiana Tech 8-3. Neutral Record: UTSA 1-1, Louisiana Tech 2-0. Conference Record: UTSA 1-10, Louisiana Tech 10-0. Series Record: Louisiana Tech leads, 4-1.
GAME NOTES: Two teams trending in opposite directions meet for a Western Athletic Conference tilt on Thursday night, as the first-place Louisiana Tech Bulldogs host the last-place Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston.
UTSA hasn't had much to hang its hat on this season as it has won just five of its 21 games, which includes a lowly 1-10 mark since WAC play began in late December. The Roadrunners completed a two-game homestand last week in dropping decisions to Denver (71-57) and New Mexico State (75-62).
While UTSA has stumbled, Louisiana Tech has soared to a 19-3 record, which includes wins in all 10 of its league contests. The Bulldogs most recently hosted Texas-Arlington last Saturday and came away with a 64-51 triumph, and their current 11-game winning streak is their longest since 1985. They have also been flawless on their home floor, winning all nine games in Ruston this season.
Louisiana Tech has won four of the previous five matchups in the all-time series with UTSA, which includes a 73-71 road victory on Jan. 12 in the first- ever meeting between the two at WAC rivals.
The Roadrunners didn't have much of a chance against NMSU last Saturday, as they shot just 33.3 percent from the field while allowing the Aggies to net nearly 50 percent of their attempts. Michael Hale III scored 20 points and handed out five assists, but he was off the mark with his shot, making a meager 7-of-23 from the field. Kannon Burrage scored 18 points, but he too hurt his team with poor shooting (6-of-22). Jordan Sims added 12 points and seven rebounds in the setback. Burrage is tied for the WAC lead in scoring with 18.0 ppg, but that number is a product of volume more than anything else, as he shoots just 36.4 percent from the floor. Hale III (16.2 ppg) is more efficient at 43.5 percent, and he also hands out 3.7 apg. Jeromie Hill (13.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is out indefinitely with a bruised knee. Not surprisingly, UTSA owns the league's worst scoring margin (-7.4), netting 65.7 ppg while allowing 73.1 ppg.
Louisiana Tech is the WAC's top scoring squad at 72.1 ppg, and although it was well below that average last Saturday, it was still able to cruise to the double-digit victory by holding UTA to a lowly 36 percent field goal efficiency. The Bulldogs made up for a lackluster shooting effort themselves (18-of-49) by connecting on 22-of-28 from the foul line. Raheem Appleby led the way with 15 points, while Cordarius Johnson tacked on 12 points and four steals in the victory. The team's balanced offensive attack boasts only one player in double figures on a nightly basis in Appleby, who pours in 14.4 ppg. Kenneth Smith puts up just 7.2 ppg, but he is one of the league's top floor generals with a WAC-leading 5.1 apg against less than three turnovers per outing. Michale Kyser (5.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is an elite interior defender, ranking first in the league with 3.3 bpg. Much of the Bulldogs' success this season can be attributed to their +5.2 turnover margin.
Louisiana Tech has played outstanding basketball of late, and hosting a spiraling UTSA squad, this one could get out of hand early.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 78, Texas-San Antonio 58
02/07 10:36:09 ET
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