Jamel Guyton scored 31 points on 11-14 shooting and pulled down 11 rebounds to pace the Bulldogs. He also spent a lot of his effort harassing Paul George, who finished 1 of 5 from deep, to 22 points on 8 of 21 shooting overall.
Kyle Gibson also got the start for Louisiana Tech Head Coach Kerry Rupp. Gibson has missed time with a sprained ankle and was still not 100%. Gibson hit one three point shot early, but he came up big in the second half. The senior guard hit his free throws late and he drew a key charge in the final minutes.
Olu Ashaolu and Magnum Rolle combined for 23 points and 17 rebounds inside. Fresno State big man Greg Smith was limited to 5 points in 16 minutes due to foul trouble.
In order to win the conference tournament, or even make the finals, Coach Rupp will have to lead the Bulldogs to unchartered waters. Coach Rupp has led Tech to heights they have not reached in a long time. The Bulldogs last won 23 games in 1991-1992. The last time the team made it to the NCAA tournament was 1990-1991.
Louisiana Tech's road to the NCAA tournament this year goes through Fresno State, Utah State, and possibly Nevada. Coach Rupp's Bulldogs beat all three teams early on in Ruston, but they lost to all three teams recently on the road. It's hard to beat a team two times in a row. Tech was able to take out Fresno State just one week after losing in Fresno in the regular season.
Utah State lost in Ruston to Louisiana Tech 82-60. The Aggies have won 16 straight since then, including a 67-61 win over Tech on February 17th. The six point margin of victory was Utah State's second smallest of the win streak next to a 5 point road win over Boise State.
The keys for Louisiana Tech will be to limit turnovers. Kyle Gibson did not look comfortable with the ball and Olu Ashaolu struggled with his passing. Gibson will need to be able to knock down shots against Utah State even though he is playing hurt.
Magnum Rolle and Olu Ashaolu will also have to be active and outplay Tai Wesley and Nate Bendall. Tech must win the battle inside to give themselves a chance to win. The odds are against Jamel Guyton getting red hot again and going for 30 points. It will have to be a team effort.