GAME NOTES: Intrastate foes are set for a Sunday evening showdown, as the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs travel to Monroe to take on the ULM Warhawks at Fant- Ewing Coliseum.
After suffering a tough neutral-court loss against nationally-ranked Oklahoma State on Dec. 14 (70-55), Louisiana Tech got back to its winning ways on Tuesday night with a 64-50 home victory over McNeese State. The Bulldogs are an impressive 9-3 on the season, which includes wins in two of three true road games.
As for ULM, it has suffered a two-game losing streak to slip to 3-3 on the season. The Warhawks lost at LSU on Dec. 14 (61-54) before falling at Ole Miss on Wednesday (75-62), but the good news is that they have won both their contests at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
Louisiana Tech leads the storied series with ULM, 51-36, which includes a 68-52 home victory in last season's matchup.
The Bulldogs endured a lackluster shooting effort in their most recent game, both from the field (.383) and the free-throw line (.500), but they were still able to cruise to a 14-point victory by playing outstanding defense, holding McNeese State to just 33.3 percent shooting while forcing 19 turnovers. Raheem Appleby led all scorers with 23 points, doing so on 9-of-15 from the field including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Michale Kyser scored 13 points and was a beast in the paint with 17 rebounds and seven blocks.
Louisiana Tech has grown accustomed to much more efficient scoring nights, as it makes good on 46.7 percent of its field goal tries for 81.8 points per game, although the defensive effort (66.8 ppg) was no fluke. Appleby scores 16.7 points per game to lead the way, while Alex Hamilton (13.6 ppg) and Chris Anderson (10.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) are also consistent scorers. Kyser puts up just 5.8 points per game but is a difference-maker down low with 7.2 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per contest.
Although ULM trailed in its latest game at the half by just four points, it quickly lost control early in the second stanza after Ole Miss ripped off a 14-1 run to separate itself. ULM was uninspiring from the field (.379) and the foul line (.500), and while it won the rebounding battle (45-33), that advantage was negated by a game-high 17 turnovers. Amos Olatayo posted 17 points in the losing effort. Tylor Ongwae added 12 points, and Jayon James tallied nine points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
The Warhawks have a convincing field goal percentage advantage (.463) over their opponents (.412) this season, but that has only resulted in a modest +4.0 scoring margin, partially due to its 17.0 turnovers per game for a -3.2 takeaway margin. Olatayo scores 16.3 points per game on nearly 55 percent field goal shooting. Ongwae (12.5 ppg) and Marvin Williams (10.8 ppg) also register in double figures, while James stuffs the stat sheet with 9.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
ULM has performed well on its home floor this season, which gives it a chance to knock off a surging Louisiana Tech squad, but the Bulldogs have proven to be the more talented team and have sustained success on the road in the early going, giving them the advantage to earn their 10th win.
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