Tech on ESPN2 Twice this Week

The Bulldogs enter the week at 20-5 overall and 8-3 in the WAC, tied for the second place. They trail first-place Utah State by a game and a half, but Tech can do something about that when it plays in Logan on Wednesday.

Then comes a BracketBusters game at Northeastern, which was tied for first in the Colonial Athletic Conference through Feb. 13.

Both big road games will be on ESPN2. So if the Bulldogs want to get respect and pad their postseason resume, this is the time to do it.

Are they ready?

One recent problem has been 3-point shooting. Through Feb. 13, Louisiana Tech had suffered through five consecutive cold shooting nights, going a combined 21 of 86 (24.4 percent) from behind the arc.

That poor accuracy was a factor in a home game against shorthanded Hawaii that was much closer (66-60) than it should have been. The Warriors had a couple of possessions in the final two minutes when they could have tied the game or taken the lead.

"We're not shooting the ball well, and we're not getting to the free throw line," coach Kerry Rupp said. "We've got to definitely get to the offensive boards."

This would be the week to break out of that shooting slump.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Louisiana Tech made only 15 of 29 free throw attempts against Hawaii on Feb. 13, which contributed to the closer-than-expected victory. The Bulldogs are at 66.1 percent for the season, fifth in the WAC through games of Feb. 13. "We missed a lot of free throws, which had been a plus for us earlier this season," coach Kerry Rupp said after the Hawaii game. "We've got to do a much better job at the free throw line."

--Louisiana Tech entered the week second in the league in rebounding margin at plus-3.3 per game in conference games.

ON THE SPOT: The remainder of the season largely will depend on how Louisiana Tech handles itself on the road. This is when nonconference games at New Mexico and Arizona could come in handy; although both games were losses, perhaps those tough environments prepared the Bulldogs for days like this. Tech has three seniors in the starting lineup, and they need to show the maturity to handle four difficult road games -- Utah State, Northeastern, Fresno State and Nevada.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It became really, really close, where we really had to come down and have great possessions. It was about fighting, and finding a way to stay strong, and finding a way to come out with the win." -- Tech coach Kerry Rupp, on a 66-60 victory over Hawaii on Feb. 13.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

SEASON RECAP: A veteran and stable lineup has led Louisiana Tech to be one of the surprise teams in the WAC. With 20 wins entering the week and having previously received votes in the AP poll, this already has been a notable season for the Bulldogs, but there is still much work to be done. Tech leans heavily on its athletic starting five, so you have to wonder if those guys will wear down late in the season.

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 71, San Jose State 64 New Mexico State 70, Louisiana Tech 68 Louisiana Tech 66, Hawaii 60

GAME PREVIEW:

at Utah State, Wednesday, Feb. 17 at Northeastern, Saturday, Feb. 20 vs. Boise State, Thursday, Feb. 25 vs. Idaho, Saturday, Feb. 27 at Fresno State, Thursday, March 4

IN FOCUS: Tech knows what it is getting into when it plays Northeastern in a televised BracketBuster game. The Huskies beat Utah State at Matthews Arena in Boston, 64-61, in November. Louisiana Tech will have to establish its rebounding superiority in this game, especially if it continues to struggle with its 3-point shooting.

ROSTER REPORT:

--Freshman F Darius Redding played a season-high 21 minutes against Hawaii on Feb. 13. He had six points and three rebounds. "Darius came in and did a great job of driving the gaps and getting to the rim," coach Kerry Rupp said.

--G Kyle Gibson is still in the race for the WAC scoring title. He is averaging 21.0 points, tied for third in the league, 1.5 points per game behind San Jose State's Adrian Oliver.

--Sophomore F Olu Ashaolu knows what he needs to work on. He was making a scant 46.6 percent of his free throws (48 of 103) through games of Feb. 13.


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