Louisiana (8-15) at Troy (9-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Trojan Arena (6,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: Louisiana 7-4, Troy 6-4. Away Record: Louisiana 1-11, Troy 2-8. Neutral Record: Louisiana 0-0, Troy 1-1. Conference Record: Louisiana 4-8, Troy 4-7. Series Record: Louisiana leads, 7-4.
GAME NOTES: Fresh off its best offensive performance in nearly a decade, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns try to keep the momentum going on Saturday night as they pay a visit to the Troy Trojans.
Louisiana crushed North Texas on Thursday night, 105-74, in its highest point total in a game since the 2003-04 season. The win halted a three-game losing streak for the Cajuns, and their season has been largely a disappointed at 8-15 overall and 4-8 in league play.
Troy has been nearly as lackluster as Louisiana, going 9-13 overall and 4-7 in the Sun Belt. After winning its previous two games in overtime, the Trojans fell back into the loss column with a 65-61 defeat at the hands of Western Kentucky on Thursday.
Louisiana holds a 7-4 advantage in the all-time series with Troy, which includes an 83-78 win in the latest matchup on Feb. 4, 2012.
The Cajuns' shot 53.5 percent from the field and drained 11 3-pointers in their dominating 31-point win over North Texas. Not only did Elfrid Payton lead the way with 24 points, but he also found time to dish out nine assists and come up with four steals. Shawn Long was also outstanding, notching his 14th double-double of the season with 23 points and 13 rebounds, and after missing the last four games with an injury, Bryant Mbamalu returned to the lineup and scored 18 points coming off the bench. Scoring points has been the least of Louisiana's issues this season, as it ranks first in the conference with 71.3 ppg, but with that comes the league's worst-ranked scoring defense, which yields 74 ppg. Long is one of the most imposing forces in the Sun Belt, ranking in the top five in scoring (16.3 ppg), rebounding (10.5 ppg), and blocks (2.0 bpg). Payton also brings star power to the squad with 15.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 5.3 apg, and 2.3 spg, the later two ranking first in the league. Mbamalu (14.2 ppg) rounds out one of the best scoring trios in the country.
Troy shot a nearly identical field goal percentage (.473) as did WKU (.478) in its latest game, but it ultimately fell on the wrong side of the four-point decision by getting outrebounded, 31-25, and by being outscored from the foul line, 12-3. Hunter Williams did all he could to help lift his team to victory, shooting 9-of-15 from the floor, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range for a career-high 23 points. Ray Chambers was also on point with his field goal attempts, shooting 8-of-11 for 18 points. The Trojans have yet to put it all together at the offensive end this season, as they score just 62.5 ppg while connecting on a league-low 39.9 percent of their field goal attempts. Emil Jones is the lone player to net in double figures on a nightly basis with 11.0 ppg, although Williams (9.9 ppg) has inched closer to that plateau by averaging 16.7 ppg in the last three. Jones and Williams have also combined for 141 assists compared to 74 turnovers.
Louisiana clearly has the offensive firepower to be one of the elite teams in the Sun Belt if it could ever learn to stop its opponents from scoring. Against a lackluster Troy shooting attack however, the Cajuns should be able to continue their hot streak.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 75, Troy 69
02/02 10:45:20 ET