GAME NOTES: A pair of Sun Belt Conference bottom-dwellers meet at the
Cajundome on Sunday night, as the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns play host to the ULM
Without question, ULM has been the Sun Belt's worst team this season, as it
sits with just a 3-16 overall record and is all alone in last place with a
2-11 league mark. The Warhawks are spiraling out of control with a season-
long, eight-game losing streak, their most recent setback coming at home to
Arkansas-Little Rock on Thursday, 70-60.
Louisiana's 8-16 season (4-9 in the Sun Belt) has been disappointment,
especially considering its 16-16 mark from a season ago. The Cajuns have shown
very little with regard to turning things around, losing four of their last
five outings, including a 71-52 decision at Troy on Feb. 2, but the good news
for this matchup is that they have played well on their home floor (7-4).
ULM defeated Louisiana in its season finale last year in Lafayette, 78-60, for
its first road victory in the series since 1957. The Cajuns still have a firm
handle on the all-time series, 46-19.
The Warhawks found themselves down by 13 at the half against UALR, and while
they managed to climb back to make it just a three-point game with under two
minutes to play, they could not complete the comeback. Trey Lindsey provided a
spark off the bench and was a big reason ULM was able to claw its way back
into the game after halftime, shooting 4-of-6 from 3-point range on his way to
18 points -- more than double his previous career-high. Jayon James tallied 15
points and six assists in the loss, while R.J. McCray logged 10 points and
seven helpers. The double-digit loss was nothing new for ULM, which averages
just 59.6 ppg while allowing 70.3 ppg for a league-worst -10.7 scoring margin.
Amos Olatayo nets 15.5 ppg to lead the team, shooting nearly 48 percent from
the field in the process. James stuffs the stat sheet with 10.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg
and more than five assists per outing, while Trent Mackey has made 46-of-115
shots from beyond the arc (.400) en route to 10.3 ppg.
The Ragin' Cajuns typically don't have much of an issue scoring points,
pouring in 70.5 ppg, but they suffered through one of their worst performances
of the year in the 19-point loss to Troy, shooting less than 38 percent from
the floor while making just 5-of-10 from the free-throw line. Despite the
blowout defeat, Bryant Mbamalu had a stellar game with 16 points in 25 minutes
off the bench. Elfrid Payton and Alan-Michael Thompson tallied 11 points
apiece, while Shawn Long (eight points) shot just 4-of-13 from the field, but
grabbed 11 rebounds. Long is typically one of the Sun Belt's top forwards,
ranking among the league leaders in points (16.0 ppg), rebounds (10.5 rpg) and
blocks (2.0 bpg). Payton is strong across the board with 15.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg,
5.2 apg and 54 steals, while Mbamalu adds 14.3 ppg. Despite the presence of
the conference's best scoring trio, Louisiana can't break free from the
league cellar because of its porous defense, which yields nearly 74 ppg.
Louisiana's scoring talent hasn't been able to overcome some of its other
deficiencies this season, but at home against the conference's worst team, it
shouldn't have much of an issue getting back on track.