Texas-Arlington (6-9) at Louisiana (9-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 11, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cajundome (13,500) -- Lafayette, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: UTA 5-3, Louisiana 6-0. Away Record: UTA 1-6, Louisiana 2-5. Neutral Record: UTA 0-0, Louisiana 1-0. Conference Record: UTA 1-2, Louisiana 0-1. Series Record: Louisiana leads, 10-7.
GAME NOTES: The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns open up a two-game homestand at the Cajundome on Saturday afternoon, as they play host to the Texas-Arlington Mavericks in a Sun Belt Conference showdown.
After dropping its first two league contests versus Arkansas State (82-66) and Arkansas-Little Rock (72-70), UTA finally got into the Sun Belt win column on Thursday night with a stellar 83-79 overtime victory against ULM. The Mavericks are still just 6-9 on the season, which includes only one win in seven road games.
Louisiana had won three of its previous four games prior to opening up conference action at ULM last Saturday, when it fell in double-overtime, 103-98. The Cajuns, who are 9-5 overall, have yet to lose in the Cajundome in six tries.
The Cajuns lead the all-time series with UTA, 10-7, although these new conference rivals haven't met since 1982.
Trailing by one with just one second left in regulation, UTA had a chance to take the lead when Jamel Outler stepped to the foul line, but he made only 1- of-2 to send the game to overtime where it eventually lost by four. It shot 44.6 percent from the field in the loss, including a lofty 13-of-29 from 3- point range, but it ultimately couldn't stop ULM, which made greater than 51 percent of its field goal tries. Lonnie McClanahan was outstanding with 25 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals. Jamel Outler was stellar despite his poor showing at the line (3-of-7), finishing with 20 points, while Brandon Edwards tallied 17 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
The Mavericks have established a theme this season, as they score plenty of points (80.1 ppg) while having extreme difficulty stopping their opponents (79.9 ppg). Reger Dowell pours in 22.0 ppg but he was sidelined in Thursday's loss with an injury. Edwards is one of the conference's top forwards, posting 17.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg and 2.0 bpg, all while shooting 52.8 percent from the field. McClanahan (12.9 ppg) and Outler (10.4 ppg) are also regular contributors.
Louisiana overcame a double-digit second-half deficit to ULM in its most recent contest, forcing overtime after Xavian Rimmer was fouled from 3-point distance and drained three free throws with only three seconds in regulation, but it ultimately couldn't outlast the Warhawks in two overtimes. It kept the game close throughout by shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 25-of-35 from the foul line, but the difference came on the glass, where it was outrebounded, 54-44. Elfrid Payton shined despite the setback with a triple- double of 34 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, all career highs. Shawn Long was also impressive with 21 points, eight boards and six blocks, while Steven Wronkoski scored 11.
The Cajuns have gotten used to high point totals this season, as they shoot 47.2 percent from the field for 84.9 ppg, which ranks 14th in the nation. They are led by one of the country's best scoring duos in Long and Payton, with Long (21.5 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 2.9 bpg) patrolling the paint and Payton (20.7 ppg, 6.0 apg, 5.8 rpg, 2.2 spg) manning the perimeter.
Despite the Cajuns' most recent setback, they are clearly the more impressive team in this matchup, and their perfect record at the Cajundome doesn't appear to be in jeopardy against the Mavericks.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 81, Texas-Arlington 71
01/11 12:01:51 ET