Bulldogs Look To Regroup Against Idaho

Just when Louisiana Tech needed a win -- with another 10 days of the regular season left and an NCAA Tournament bid closer than it has been in years -- the Bulldogs turned in their worst game of the year.

Tech (21-7, 8-5) lost to Western Athletic Conference also-ran Boise State (13-15, 3-10).

Not since Louisiana Tech lost by 14 at home to New Mexico State on Jan. 30 had the Bulldogs been so humiliated.

The loss came at a time in the season when the NCAA selection committee pays special attention.

The Bulldogs have now lost five of their past 10 games, alternating wins and losses since Jan. 14. That's not the sign of an elite team.

The three remaining regular-season games probably don't matter. In order to reach the NCAA tourney, the Bulldogs likely have to win the WAC tournament.

A month ago, with only three losses all season, that was the worst-case scenario.

BOISE STATE 72, LOUISIANA TECH 59: The visiting Broncos, who had lost four of their previous five games, burst from a tied halftime score to blow away Bulldogs on Thursday night.

Paul Noonan led the Broncos with 14 points, and Ike Okoye had 12. Jamel Guyton scored 13 points and Olu Ashaolu had 11 for Louisiana Tech.

NOTES, QUOTES --Louisiana Tech, thanks to a poor strength of schedule, is still on the wrong side of the bubble, even after a very good win in the BracketBusters event on national cable television.

The Bulldogs won at Northeastern 70-67 on Feb. 20, finishing a tough week of travel -- a tough set of games -- in which Tech played at Utah State on Feb. 17, also on national cable. All in all, not a bad week.

"It was a great opportunity for us to get some exposure, confidence and experience," coach Kerry Rupp said.

Point guard DeAndre Brown, who has been a super addition to the team this season, was the late-game hero against Northeastern. He took a charge call with 49.2 seconds left and then banked in a 3-pointer on the other end for the winning points.

Brown finished with 18 points. Tech trailed by eight points three times in the second half, but shot 52.1 percent to come away with the win.

--Louisiana Tech had 21 victories following the win at Northeastern, giving the Bulldogs their most wins since the 2001-02 team went 22-10. The Bulldogs have nine road victories, their most since the 2001-02 season.

--Tech made 52.1 percent of its shots at Northeastern to pull out of a shooting slump. The Bulldogs had shot 42 percent or worse in four of their five previous games. Against Northeastern, Tech made eight of 14 3-pointers for its best percentage (57.1) of the season.

ON THE SPOT: The Bulldogs are 17-0 when leading at halftime -- meaning they have won all but four of their games all season by being ahead at the break.

Thursday, however, the Bulldogs were tied at halftime before Boise State outscored them by 13 points in the second frame. Making only 35.4 percent of their shots didn't help. For the Bulldogs to make any impact in the WAC tournament, they need far more solid second-half performances.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm proud of the way we fought. When we were behind a few times, we came back against a good defensive team. Northeastern is a very good team and they played extremely hard." -- Tech head coach Kerry Rupp, following the win at Northeastern.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL SEASON RECAP: Louisiana Tech got off to a fast start against mostly inferior competition, which is way its strength of schedule is still above 200 nationally. The Bulldogs lost their two biggest nonconference games -- at New Mexico and Arizona -- but made themselves instantly credible in the WAC with home wins over Nevada and Utah State to begin league play. The Bulldogs have leaned heavily on their starting five, with each member averaging double-digit points.

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 66, Hawaii 60 Utah State 67, Louisiana Tech 61 Louisiana Tech 70, Northeastern 67 Boise State 72, Louisiana Tech 59

GAME PREVIEW: vs. Idaho, Saturday, Feb. 27 at Fresno State, Thursday, March 4 at Nevada, Saturday, March 6 WAC Tournament (Reno, Nev.), Thursday-Saturday, March 11-13

IN FOCUS: Louisiana Tech won at Idaho 77-71 on Jan. 9, shooting a stunning 68.2 percent in the second half and 57.1 percent for the game. Kyle Gibson had 28 points to lead the Bulldogs, who came back from an eight-point deficit with about 11 minutes to play. The past eight meetings between the teams have been decided by 10 points or fewer.

ROSTER REPORT: --F Magnum Rolle, who entered Boise State game as Louisiana Tech's leading scorer with 14.8 points per game, scored only six. He did add 10 rebounds, however, his highest mark in seven games. He had 15 rebounds against New Mexico State.

--G DeAndre Brown, who made the game-winning 3-pointer in the Feb. 20 win against Northeastern, missed all three of his 3-point attempts and finished with nine points Thursday. It was the first time in five games he was held without a 3-pointer.

--G Jamel Guyton recorded a steal for the 14th straight game Thursday. He entered the game third in the WAC with 1.3 steals per game.


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