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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Orleans Arena (7,471) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: None. Home Record: UTSA 3-9, LaTech 14-0. Away Record: UTSA 4-11, LaTech 10-5. Neutral Record: UTSA 2-1, LaTech 2-0. Conference Record: UTSA 3-14, LaTech 16-2. Series Record: Louisiana Tech leads, 5-1.
GAME NOTES: With one win already under their belts, the Roadrunners of Texas- San Antonio now go after the top team in the league as they challenge the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the quarterfinals of the 30th annual Western Athletic Conference Tournament at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
One of several teams new to the WAC this season, ninth-seeded UTSA took part in the first round of the tournament on Tuesday night versus San Jose State and toppled the Spartans in a 67-49 finale, still the program has yet to break the 10-win barrier for 2012-13.
As for the top-seeded Bulldogs, a team which played in and lost the title game last season versus New Mexico State, they enjoyed a remarkable run this year as they at one point owned the nation's longest win streak at 18 games and also returned to the Top-25 for the first time in almost three decades. However, LaTech did go from having a perfect mark in conference to dropping the final two games versus NMSU (78-60) and Denver (78-54) by a combined 42 points.
The Bulldogs have won five of the six all-time meetings between these two squads, including a 74-49 rout in the most recent encounter at home in early February. This time around, the winner will be back in action on Friday in the semifinals of the tournament versus the survivor of the Utah State/Texas- Arlington meeting.
Jeromie Hill registered a double-double with 21 points and a game-high 10 rebounds as he helped guide the Roadrunners to the win over the San Jose State Spartans in the first round of the WAC Tournament on Tuesday night. Also scoring in double figures for the ninth-seeded Roadrunners were Kannon Burrage with 20 points, Edrico McGregor 14 on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting, and Michael Hale III with 10 points to go along with five rebounds and five assists. the Roadrunners enjoyed a 28-16 lead at the break as SJSU connected on an abysmal 26.9 percent. In the second half UTSA left no doubt as it connected on an impressive 62.1 percent from the floor, en route to the 18-point victory. Burrage continues to lead the team in scoring with 17.2 ppg, followed by Hale III who not only puts up 15.9 ppg, he is also first with 107 assists as well.
Raheem Appleby (14.5 ppg) and Kenneth Smith (6.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 163 assists) are both All-WAC First Team selections who have heavy influence on how the Bulldogs perform as they outscored the competition by more than 10 ppg this season. In conference play LaTech was squeezing out victories by an average margin of 8.3 ppg, which was certainly lower than what had been the case before dropping the final two games of the campaign. In those league bouts, Appleby was the top scorer with 12.3 ppg, but he was also the only one in double digits as he shot just 36.4 percent from the field. A starter in just one of 18 league bouts, Kenyon McNeail (8.6 ppg) was still big for the Bulldogs on the perimeter with a team-best 37 3-pointers, as the squad nailed 140 shots on the outside, compared to just 82 for the competition.
This is a different LaTech team than the one that ripped off 16 straight conference wins. The Bulldogs were exposed by both NMSU and the Pioneers so perhaps the Roadrunners picked up some pointers from watching the film, but still probably not enough to upset the Bulldogs right now.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 67, Texas-San Antonio 64
03/14 10:37:11 ET