GAME NOTES: There are not many of them out there, but Louisiana Tech is one of the teams that has yet to be defeated in conference play as the Bulldogs head to Key Arena to challenge the Seattle Redhawks in Western Athletic Conference play on Thursday night.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they are not getting some of the national recognition that they might deserve due to the fact that they stumbled early on against Northwestern State and McNeese State, and those awkward defeats are tough to explain. However, since bowing to the Cowboys back on Dec. 12, LaTech has rattled off 13 straight wins and is still perfect in WAC action through 12 decision.
The latest win for the Bulldogs came last Saturday versus Texas State at home, 84-69, which means they have the fourth-longest active win streak in the country and ties for the second-longest run in program history as well. This is the first time in school history that LaTech has started league play with a 12-0 mark.
As for the Redhawks, one of the newest additions to the WAC this season, their transition has been filled with plenty of bumps. While the Bulldogs are alone atop the conference standings, Seattle is nestled close to the cellar with just two wins in 13 tries. Seattle last took the floor last Saturday when it bowed to New Mexico State at the Pan American Center, 60-57, marking the third straight loss and the sixth in the last seven outings for the program.
The Bulldogs are on their second go-around against conference foes, and they won the first meeting of the season against Seattle last month in Ruston, 78-71, which means Tech now owns a slim 2-1 edge in the all-time series.
Offsetting 17 turnovers, the Bulldogs held Texas State to just 38.7 percent shooting from the floor overall and watched the visitors convert just 13-of-25 at the free-throw line as well over the weekend. Although he shot just 1-of-7 behind the 3-point line, Raheem Appleby finished with a team-best 21 points, followed by Alex Hamilton and Isaiah Massey with 15 and 10 points, respectively. Holding a 46-33 advantage on the glass, the Bulldogs were led in that department by Chris Anderson who cleared 13 boards.
Balance and unselfish play has been the hallmark of the Bulldogs this season as only Appleby is scoring in double figures at the moment with his 14.5 ppg, yet the team is still outscoring the competition by a full 10.0 ppg. A major influence on the squad's success has been Kenneth Smith (7.0 ppg) who has been more than willing to sacrifice his own offense in order to hand out a team- best 125 assists and made 45 steals as the team averages about nine thefts per outing.
They certainly gave it a good run against NMSU in enemy territory on Saturday, but the Redhawks still came up short in the three-point loss in Las Cruces. Deshaun Sunderhaus was the only starter in double figures for the visitors with 14 points before fouling out, while Chad Rasmussen pitched in 12 points and five boards off the bench as the team shot only 39.0 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 15 times, which NMSU traded in for 12 crucial points.
In conference play the Redhawks have Clarence Trent as their only double-digit scorer with his 10.8 ppg, although his average could be even higher if not for the fact that he is shooting only 58.8 percent at the free-throw line. Then again, Trent isn't the only one having issues at the stripe as the team overall is converting just 60.6 percent, resulting in 64.5 ppg compared to 69.5 ppg for the opposition.
At some point the Bulldogs are going to have to land in the loss column, but right now there's just too much going right for the squad to make that happen, particularly on Thursday night.
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