Louisiana (2-2) at New Mexico State (2-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 23, 9:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pan American Center (8,994) -- Las Cruces, New Mexico. Television: None. Home Record: Louisiana 2-0, New Mexico St. 2-0. Away Record: Louisiana 0-2, New Mexico St. 0-2. Neutral Record: Louisiana 0-0, New Mexico St. 0-1. Conference Record: Louisiana 0-0, New Mexico St. 0-0. Series Record: Louisiana leads, 10-4.
GAME NOTES: Former Sun Belt Conference foes renew their rivalry when the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns head to the Pan American Center in Las Cruces to tangle with the New Mexico State Aggies.
Louisiana is coming off a 76-66 win over Southern-New Orleans at the Cajundome. The win evened the Ragin' Cajuns' record at 2-2 and ended a two- game slide which consisted of a couple of hard-fought setbacks at Texas Southern (74-71 OT) and Boise State (63-57). Bob Marlin, now 32-33 in his third year at Louisiana, has a chance to get his record with the program back to the .500 mark.
New Mexico State also ended a two-game losing streak by pulverizing Northern New Mexico of the NAIA by 30 points on Wednesday. The win was just the second of the year for Marin Menzies's squad, which also completed a 25-point rout of Southeastern Louisiana four days after a season opening, nine-point loss at Oregon State. The consecutive losses came to Bucknell and Niagara in the 2K Sports Classic.
This will be the 15th time these schools collide on the basketball court. NMSU formerly belonged to the Sun Belt Conference between 2000-01 and 2004-05, but left after losing 9-of-10 games to Louisiana during that span. The Cajuns hold a 10-4 edge in the all-time series, which has been idle since the Aggies won both ends of a home-and-home series in the early part of the 2010-11 season.
Louisiana's defensive effort was tremendous in its recent victory over Southern-New Orleans. The Cajuns held their overmatched opponent to just 36.9 percent shooting from the floor and forced 23 turnovers on its way to the 10- point decision. Louisiana also held a sizeable 46-30 in points scored in the paint. The team has shown the ability to score as well, and comes in with an average of 73.5 ppg on 44 percent field goal efficiency. Mississippi State transfer Shawn Long has become the centerpiece of the team in his first year with the program. The 6-foot-9, 243-pound power forward paces the squad with 15 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game. Sophomore point guard Elfrid Payton adds 13 points and six assists per contest, but he is not going to be settling for too many jumpers. Brant Mbamalu is a consistent third scoring option.
NMSU's rout of Northern New Mexico was not a competitive bout by any means. The Aggies held their opponent to 25 percent shooting from the floor, including an atrocious 3-of-21 mark from long distance. NMSU dominated inside with a 51-25 advantage in the rebounding battle and by scoring 44 points in the paint to Northern New Mexico's four. The Aggies are averaging 68.2 ppg in the early going. Sophomore guard Daniel Mullings is on his way to becoming the first player drafted into the NBA from the school since Randy Brown in 1991. The sophomore point guard is doing everything he can to deliver wins by averaging 15.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per contest. Tyrone Watson is second on the squad with 13.2 ppg.
The Aggies' role players are not providing Mullings with enough help on a regular basis. Louisiana has a much better balance and a stud at forward. The Ragin' Cajuns should be able to continue their dominance of NMSU despite being on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 75, New Mexico State 72
11/23 10:37:09 ET