LA Tech Takes on Fresno

Louisiana Tech fans waking up after Monday night's victory against Boise State found a program in a remarkable position.

At 16-2, the Bulldogs have won more games already than they did all last season.

They received two votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll before Monday's game, when they also were among six Division I teams with 15 or more victories.

Want more? The team's nine-game winning streak is the longest since the 1986-87 season, and the 12 nonconference wins tied for the most in school history since 1989.

The best part: After winning two consecutive road games, the Bulldogs play at home against Fresno State on Thursday before taking to the road for two more games.

Simply win the rest of their home games, and the Bulldogs would finish with 22 wins -- and NCAA Tournament dreams.

LOUISIANA TECH 79, BOISE STATE 64: Magnum Rolle scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds Monday to the lead the Bulldogs to a road victory.

He was matched by the Broncos' Robert Arnold, who also scored 18. Boise State, made only 38.2 percent of its shots, though it trailed by just three at halftime.

With about 11 minutes left, the Broncos (9-8, 0-4 WAC) were down 52-48. However, the Bulldogs went on a 15-7 run in the next four minutes to pull away.

The Bulldogs (16-2) started the Western Athletic Conference season 4-0 for the first time since 2006.

NOTES, QUOTES --Louisiana Tech keeps making believers. The Bulldogs, with a super senior core and boosted by the addition of junior college transfer point guard DeAndre Brown and the development of sophomore forward Olu Ashaolu, have raced out to a 16-2 record and a 4-0 league mark.

They passed a big road test with a 77-71 win at Idaho on Jan. 9, when they outscored the Vandals 29-15 in the final 10:25. "I thought we came out a little slow in the second half, and we knew it was going to take a full 40-minute effort," said coach Kerry Rupp. "It was a game where each possession was critical."

Speaking of 40 minutes, that's how long senior guard Kyle Gibson played against the Vandals. He scored 28 points to improve his season average to 21.4 points. Two fellow seniors -- athletic post Magnum Rolle (13.0 points per game) and guard Jamel Guyton (12.4) -- were the next-leading scorers for the Bulldogs.

But it's definitely Gibson who is steering the ship. The rest of the league has to take notice of him and the Bulldogs, who were pegged in the preseason as a middle-of-the-WAC team.

Gibson is a go-to scorer who is great in crunch time because he can handle the ball and get himself to the line, where he is making 88.3 percent (121 of 137).

"If he's not the best player in the league, he's one of them," Idaho coach Don Verlin said.

That's the same thing everyone is saying of Louisiana Tech as a team.

--Louisiana Tech entered the week ranked second in the WAC in scoring at 80.1 points per game. Although the Bulldogs aren't very deep, they like to run and press, and the starters all average at least 28 minutes. Kyle Gibson averages a league-most 35.8 minutes per game.

ON THE SPOT: Maybe no one in the nation relies on their starters more than the Bulldogs. Entering Monday's game, Louisiana Tech's starting five was scoring 87.3 percent of the team's points per game and logging 76.1 percent of the minutes played. Before Monday's game, 330 NCAA teams had played more bench minutes than the Bulldogs. On Monday, three Louisiana Tech bench players scored a total of eight points.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We just try to take it one game at a time, and that's what we've always tried to do. We want to stay focused on each game and not look too far back in the rear-view mirror and not look too far forward but really focus on the game at hand." -- Coach Kerry Rupp.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL SEASON RECAP: Louisiana Tech has won every game it should have ... and then some. The Bulldogs' only losses were at New Mexico and Arizona, and at least those nonconference losses gave Tech a taste of the travel it will experience in the far-flung WAC. An eight-game winning streak entering the week included victories at Houston and Idaho, a home win over Nevada and an 82-60 deconstruction of Utah State at home.

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 77, Nevada 71 Louisiana Tech 82, Utah State 60 Louisiana Tech 77, Idaho 71 Louisiana Tech 79, Boise State 64

GAME PREVIEW: vs. Fresno State, Thursday, Jan. 14 vs. San Jose State, Thursday, Jan. 21 at Hawaii, Saturday, Jan. 23 vs. New Mexico State, Saturday, Jan. 30

IN FOCUS: Louisiana Tech will try to establish its up-tempo game against Fresno State, which, like Tech, appears to be a team far better than preseason expectations. The western Bulldogs lead the league in field-goal percentage defense and have had success with a 2-3 zone. The eastern Bulldogs will want to run and get off shots before Fresno State can set up its defense. There's plenty of athleticism in the frontcourt for both teams in what should be an entertaining matchup.

ROSTER REPORT: --G DeAndre Brown has had a heck of a week. On Jan. 4, he dished out a career-high nine assists against Utah State, the most for a Bulldogs player since 2005. The next game, he scored a career-high 19 points against Idaho. He added 15 points in the win over Boise State.

--No one in the NCAA had made as many free throws as G Kyle Gibson entering play Monday. His 121 converted free throws were tops in the nation; his 88.3 percent accuracy mark was No. 31 in the country. In Monday's win over Boise State, he made all 10 tries.

--F Olu Ashaolu improved on his WAC-best 61 offensive rebounds by grabbing two more Monday.

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