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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 25, 4 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cajundome (13,500) -- Lafayette, Louisiana. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: WKU 8-3, Louisiana 8-1. Away Record: WKU 4-4, Louisiana 3-6. Neutral Record: WKU 0-0, Louisiana 1-0. Conference Record: WKU 4-2, Louisiana 3-3. Series Record: Western Kentucky leads, 27-14.
GAME NOTES: The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers take aim at their third winning streak of at least three games this season when they host the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns in a Sun Belt Conference affair on Saturday afternoon.
Western Kentucky defeated ULM in a 69-51 final on Thursday, marking its second win in as many games following a two-game slide. The Hilltoppers are now 12-7 overall and 4-2 in conference. They will return home to host Texas-Arlington next.
Louisiana is also 12-7 on the season, but it has lost two of its last three games to fall to 3-3 in conference action. The Cajuns' most recent outing resulted in a 77-70 setback against Georgia State, which was their first defeat at home this season. They will visit Arkansas-Little Rock next.
Last year, Western Kentucky swept the season series with Louisiana for its second and third win in the last four meetings. The Hilltoppers lead the all- time series, 27-14.
Western Kentucky's T.J. Price put on a show in the recent win over ULM, recording game-highs in points (26) and rebounds (10). The Hilltoppers shot 51 percent from the floor as a team, including a stellar 8-of-12 showing from beyond the arc.
Defense, not offense, has been the key for WKU, as the team is holding its opponents to just 66.2 ppg and 43.4 percent shooting, while only connecting on 41.4 percent from the field themselves. Price (17.2 ppg) and George Fant (12.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg) are the only two players on the team averaging in double figures. Price is clearly the team's preferred scorer, netting at least 15 points in nine of the last 10 games he has played in. Fant has been in single digits in three of the last four games, although he scored a season-high 27 points against Arkansas State.
Louisiana let itself down by shooting a lackluster 39 percent from the floor, including a 1-of-9 effort from 3-point range, in the second half against Georgia State. The Ragin' Cajuns were also outscored at the free-throw line in the frame, 25-8.
The Cajuns have quite the duo in Elfrid Payton (19.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 6.1 apg, 2.5 spg) and Shawn Long (20.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 3 bpg), each of whom ranks among the top-five scorers in the Sun Belt. Payton also leads the league in assists and steals, while Long is the conference's best rebounder and shot blocker. Payton finished with 21 points against Georgia State, while Long tallied 17 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks. The Ragin' Cajuns don't have much in terms of depth, with no other player averaging in double figures. Still, they are ranked first in the league in scoring (82.9 ppg) and assists (14.5 apg).
Losing on their home floor is not a habit the Cajuns are likely to fall into. Expect Payton and Long to put together big games to lead Louisiana to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 79, Western Kentucky 72
01/25 10:16:23 ET
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