Getting Inside: Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech had the best non-conference record among the WAC teams, with a 12-2 mark, and then the Bulldogs set about to back that up in league play.

Tech's starting five is as good as any in the league, and the Bulldogs took a solid first step in conference play with a 77-71 home win over Nevada on Saturday night. All five starters average double-digit points -- and all five scored at least 11 against the Wolf Pack.

The starters played 170 of 200 minutes and scored all but two points. "It was a good win and we have to build on that as we continue in conference," said coach Kerry Rupp.

Tech figures to have a shot at continuing to do big things in conference. It has three key senior starters -- guards Kyle Gibson and Jamel Guyton, and big man Magnum Rolle -- as well as emerging sophomore star Olu Ashaolu and point guard DeAndre Brown.

Brown, a junior college transfer, has made a huge impact. He was the missing piece to the puzzle to a team that needed on-court direction. The Bulldogs were the lowest scoring team in the WAC last season (63.3 points per game), was last in assists with 10.48 per game and was eighth in turnovers at 15.3 per game.

Now, Tech is an up-tempo team that averages nearly 80 points per game, without the worries of turnovers or lack of playmaking.

"One of the biggest changes for us this year is having a point guard who is pushing the ball up and down the court," Ashaolu told the Shreveport Times. "He's our quarterback and he is a good leader."

NOTES, QUOTES --Olu Ashaolu had a double-double against Houston on Dec. 29, including a career-high 21 rebounds. He also finished with 17 points in a very fast-paced game and had recorded his double-double with about five minutes to go before halftime.

--Louisiana Tech scored at least 98 points in three of its first 12 games, including a season-high 102 in a double-overtime win at Centenary.

--The win over Nevada on Jan. 2 extended Louisiana Tech's winning streak to six games, its longest since the 2002-03 season.

ON THE SPOT: Louisiana Tech has an athletic starting five that wants to get out and run. Question is, will those starters stay healthy and hold up over the course of the season? The Bulldogs get a solid contribution off the bench from senior F David Jackson (5.0 points, 4.3 rebounds), but the rest of the bench had scored only 80 points in 15 games. At this point, it's probably not realistic to think somebody is going to emerge as a reliable contributor. But there will be times in games because of foul trouble or injury that reserves such as G Anson Bartlett and F Darius Redding are going to have to step up.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have to continue to find kids who play a similar style and who understand the culture of being here. They have to expect to go to class. They have to want to be coached. They must attend workouts year-round. If we can find recruits like that, then we have a great chance of keeping things going." -- Coach Kerry Rupp, in the Shreveport Times.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL SEASON RECAP: Louisiana Tech built a 12-2 non-conference record, although many outsiders questioned the strength of that slate. The two losses were at New Mexico and Arizona -- games that should help prepare for the competition and the travel that the Bulldogs will experience in the WAC. Based on the early returns, Louisiana Tech could be better than preseason expectations because of the emergence of athletic sophomore forward Olu Ashaolu (12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds) and junior college transfer point guard DeAndre Brown (10.8 points, 3.3 assists).

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- PG DeAndre Brown, SG Kyle Gibson, SF Jamel Guyton, PF Olu Ashaolu, C Magnum Rolle. Key Subs -- F David Jackson, F Darius Redding, G Yonas Berhe, G Anson Bartlett.

GAME REVIEW: Louisiana Tech 81, Texas-Pan American 60 Louisiana Tech 99, Houston 94 Louisiana Tech 77, Nevada 71

GAME PREVIEW: vs. Utah State, Monday, Jan. 4 at Idaho, Saturday, Jan. 9 at Boise State, Monday, Jan. 11 vs. Fresno State, Thursday, Jan. 14 vs. San Jose State, Thursday, Jan. 21

IN FOCUS: Louisiana Tech was only 2-6 in conference road games last season, so any rise in the standings start on the road. The Bulldogs won two of three games against Idaho last season, winning at home and in Reno, Nev., in the conference tournament. Tech guard Kyle Gibson averaged 23.0 points against the Vandals last season, so he will be one to watch in this season's first meeting.

ROSTER REPORT: --F Olu Ashaolu had 14 points and 12 rebounds in the conference opener against Nevada, marking his seventh double-double of the season. --G Jamel Guyton opened conference play with a team-high 21 points in the win over Nevada. That was his third 20-point game of the season.

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