Texas-Arlington (15-16) vs. Louisiana (20-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 14, 9:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: New Orleans Lakefront Arena (8,933) -- New Orleans, Louisiana. Television: Sun Belt Network. Home Record: UT Arlington 9-5, Louisiana 13-2. Away Record: UT Arlington 5-11, Louisiana 6-9. Neutral Record: UT Arlington 1-0, Louisiana 1-0. Conference Record: UT Arlington 10-9, Louisiana 11-7. Series Record: Louisiana leads, 12-7.
GAME NOTES: The Sun Belt Conference Tournament will dwindle down to four teams after the sixth-seeded Texas-Arlington Mavericks and the third-seeded Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns clash in the quarterfinal round at New Orleans Lakefront Arena.
The winner of this game will advance to face second-seeded Western Kentucky in the semifinals on Saturday.
UT-Arlington survived a first-round matchup with ULM Thursday by edging the Warhawks, 68-65, to advance. The Mavericks have won three of their last four games entering the clash with Louisiana.
Louisiana used a six-game winning streak late in the season to propel itself to one of the top three spots in the postseason tournament. The Cajuns won two of their last three games in the regular season, including a tight 77-76 edging of Arkansas State in the season finale Saturday, and earned the bye into the quarterfinal round of the Sun Belt Tournament.
Louisiana holds the advantage in the brief all-time series with UT-Arlington, 12-7. The teams met twice on the court this season, with the Ragin' Cajuns winning both of those contests.
ULM led the Mavericks at the end of the first half on Thursday, 36-32, but the lead wouldn't last long after the ball was inbounded for the second half. UT-Arlington held ULM to just 35.5 percent shooting in the second period, including just 1-of-12 from 3-point range, while the Mavericks netted 50 percent of their shot tires from the floor. Reger Dowell led Arlington with 18 points in the contest, while Jamel Outler chipped in with 16, Vincent Dillard added 12 and Anthony Walker tallied a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Brandon Edwards led the team with 12 boards in the contest. Dowell is a dangerous scorer for the Mavericks, and he's proven that much this season with his 20.1 ppg average entering the clash with the Cajuns. Edwards nearly averages a double-double with 16.1 ppg and 9.8 rpg, and Lonnie McClanahan contributes 14.2 ppg with 113 assists on the year, which is second to Shaq White-Miller's 120 assists. The Mavericks are capable scorers, averaging 76.1 ppg this season.
Elfrid Payton connected on a 3-pointer for Louisiana with 11.9 seconds remaining in regulation to give his Ragin' Cajuns a one-point edge over Arkansas State Saturday. The score help up in the as the seconds ticked away, and Louisiana squeaked into postseason play on a high note. Payton scored 17 points in the contest, adding eight rebounds and six assists to his stat line. Payton, who played in all 31 games for the Cajuns this season, leads the team in scoring at 19.3 ppg. Shawn Long, who averages a double-double on the season with 19.2 ppg and 10.4 rpg, netted a team-high 25 points in the win Saturday, adding 11 boards to his stat line. Bryant Mbamalou chips in 11.6 ppg for the Cajuns, who net 81.4 ppg as a unit.
UT-Arlington has a potent offense, but it hasn't always shown in contests throughout the year. Meanwhile, players like Payton and Long have been consistent for Louisiana. This matchup has the potential to be a high-scoring affair, but the Ragin' Cajuns simply have more firepower on the offensive end.
Sports network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 79, Texas-Arlington 72
03/14 10:35:52 ET