Louisiana (14-9) at Texas State (7-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 5:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Strahan Coliseum (7,200) -- San Marcos, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: Louisiana 9-2, TSU 4-6. Away Record: Louisiana 4-7, TSU 1-8. Neutral Record: Louisiana 1-0, TSU 2-1. Conference Record: Louisiana 5-5, TSU 3-6. Series Record: Louisiana leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The dynamic duo of Shawn Long and Elfrid Payton will try to lead the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns to their third win in a row as they battle the Texas State Bobcats in a Sun Belt Conference matchup at Strahan Coliseum.
Louisiana won its second consecutive game on Thursday as it outlasted Texas- Arlington for a 92-89 decision. Coach Bob Marlin's team had lost three in a row to close out last month before discovering success in February. Louisiana is 14-9 overall, but just 4-7 in true road tests. The Ragin' Cajuns are ranked 20th nationally in points per game (81.4) in large part due to the efforts of Long and Payton, who are both netting just over 20 ppg and rank second and third, respectively, on the SBC's scoring leaderboard.
The Bobcats picked up their second win in three games on Thursday as they defeated ULM, 65-57, at home. Texas State is still sitting eight games below the .500 mark on the season and has just three victories in SBC play. Coach Danny Kaspar's team has struggled on the offensive end, scoring only 63.2 ppg to rank last in the league in scoring. However, the Bobcats are surrendering an SBC-low 66 ppg to their opposition. Kaspar is in his first season at the helm of the program. He led Stephen F. Austin to a 27-5 finish and NIT appearance in 2012-13.
The Ragin' Cajuns coasted to an 81-58 decision when they hosted Texas State on Jan. 13 in the first meeting in history between the schools. The Bobcats were hindered by 18 turnovers, while Long and Payton combined for 39 points.
Long set a new career-high with 31 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Louisiana's win over the Mavericks at College Park Center. Payton did not disappoint either as he tallied 22 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. The Ragin' Cajuns took a 15-point lead into the intermission after they sank 6- of-12 attempts from behind the 3-point line in the first half. The team nearly let its lead slip away in the late stages of the contest, but still prospered despite finishing 19-of-37 at the free-throw line. Louisiana's one-two punch had solid support as Hayward Register added 17 points off the bench, while Elridge Moore pulled down 10 boards. Long is pacing the SBC in rebounding with 10.8 rpg and Payton's average of 5.9 assists per outing is also a league-best.
Texas State did not look like a team with offensive woes in the first half of its bout with the Warhawks. The Bobcats shot 60 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes en route to a nine-point halftime advantage and held on for the triumph. Joel Wright scored 19 points to lead four players in double- figures. Wes Davis added 12 points for Texas State, which also received 11 points courtesy of Gordon Ball. Wright is the catalyst with 15 ppg and 6.3 rpg, while Emani Gant (10.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg) makes good on just under 58 percent of his attempts from the floor.
Louisiana has enough talent to win the conference tournament but has underachieved towards its 5-5 league record. The Ragin' Cajuns appear to be gearing up for a late season push and should have no trouble continuing their momentum in San Marcos. Texas State does not have enough firepower to keep up with the Ragin' Cajuns for a full 40 minutes.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 78, Texas State 67
02/08 10:20:56 ET