The three freshmen -- Kenneth Smith, Raheem Appleby and Michale Kyser -- have been the biggest surprises so far. Appleby is averaging a team-best14.2 points in 26.1 minutes entering this week. Smith plays 23.5 minutes a game and leads the team with 90 assists. Kyser leads the team with 42 blocked shots in only 14.5 minutes per game.
The future is bright with the three freshmen, and three talented sophomores, led by guard Cordarius Johnson. He is third on the team in scoring with 10.2 points a game. Kenyon McNeaill, another solid sophomore, is fourth in scoring and second in assists.
Louisiana Tech added another talented freshman this semester -- former Mississippi forward Isaiah Massey -- who was forced to sit the first semester per NCAA transfer rules. Massey followed White, a former Ole Miss assistant coach, to Ruston, La.
"Isaiah is a high level athlete with a motor that never stops," said White. "He's also a high-character young man. He'll be a very good front court player for us, and he is excited about being at Louisiana Tech."
Massey, 6-foot-8 and 220 pounds, has played five games with Louisiana Tech and has already started twice. He averages 4.6 points and 2.4 rebounds a game in 12.8 minutes a game.
Louisiana Tech is getting a taste of White's recruiting ability. White, the son of Duke athletic director Kevin White (formerly of Arizona State and Notre Dame), is responsible for signing Appleby, Smith, Kyser and Massey.
"Coach White was the main one who recruited me to Ole Miss," Massey said. "While I was at Ole Miss, he was a great coach. He stuck with me, he coached me hard and he understood me. I just think this is a great opportunity for me.
"He understands us as players. He has been through it; he knows what he is doing. And has a good personality, and I just like him as a coach."
Road win streak snapped by Aggies --Louisiana Tech put up a good fight against a more experienced New Mexico State team on Feb. 4 but lost 83-72 in Las Cruces, N.M. The Bulldogs were outscored 14-5 in the last six minutes of the game. It was their first loss on the road in the WAC this season.
The Bulldogs entered last weekend leading the WAC with 8.6 made 3-pointers per game. Louisiana Tech finished 8-for-26 (30.8 percent) from 3-point range on Feb. 4 against New Mexico State. After starting the second half 3-for-3 on treys, Louisiana Tech was 1-for-9 from long range to close the game.
"Coming into the game, we knew they were first in our league in 3s," New Mexico State freshman guard Daniel Mullings told the Las Cruces Sun-News. "We knew we had to do whatever we could to chase them off the 3-point line. The 3-point line kept them in the game."
BY THE NUMBERS:
4 -- Senior guard Brandon Gibson played a season-low four minutes at New Mexico State because of foul trouble. He was whistled for four fouls in those four minutes and scored only two points. Gibson had 16 points and seven rebounds in New Mexico State's 10-point victory over the Bulldogs in Ruston, La., last month.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Really, really disappointed to be honest with you. Defensively, my goodness, we've had a week to prepare for these guys. We did more protecting the paint drills than you can create. I'm not a real creative guy but me and my staff put together about 10 different drills to try to keep the ball out of the paint. We couldn't keep them out of the paint. They're so long and big and athletic. They dominated the offensive glass." -- Louisiana Tech coach Mike White after his team allowed New Mexico State to score 69 of its 83 points in the paint with close-range shots and second-chance opportunities.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Utah State, Feb. 9
KEY MATCHUPS: Utah State guard Brockeith Pane scored a career-high 24 points in the first meeting last month in Ruston, leading the Aggies to a 69-65 win. Pane's matchup against talented Louisiana Tech freshman guard Raheem Appleby should be a battle between two all-conference players.
--at Idaho, Feb. 11 KEY MATCHUPS: Idaho guard Deremy Geiger made six 3-pointers and scored 23 points in Idaho's 90-88 overtime win last month in Ruston, La. Louisiana Tech forward Brandon Gibson, although only 6-foot-5, held his own against Idaho's center Kyle Barone. Gibson had 22 points and 13 rebounds while Barone finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds. It will have to take another effort like that from Gibson near the basket for Louisiana Tech to have a chance.
FUTURES MARKET: Class of 2012 signee Alexander Hamilton, a small forward, has been a late-bloomer on the national recruiting scene, but garnered a lot of positive attention with his play in the AAU Nationals. At 6-foot-4 and 185-pounds, Hamilton has the size, skill and athleticism of an SEC guard. Although it might be his explosiveness and quickness that draws your attention, it's his intangibles that separate him from the pack.
PLAYER NOTES --Freshman G Raheem Appleby scored a career-high 30 points in the Bulldogs' 83-72 loss at New Mexico State on Feb. 4. Appleby is the first Bulldog to score 30 points in a game since former Tech player DeAndre Brown had 31 against Northwestern State last year.
--Freshman F Michale Kyser had two blocked shots at New Mexico State , raising his total to 42. Entering the week, he is five away from 10th place on the program's career blocked shot list.
--Sophomore G Cordarius Johnson had a career-high eight defensive rebounds and nine overall against New Mexico State on Feb. 4.