Bulldogs to Host USM

The good news is that at least the Bulldogs have a postseason, being invited to the 16-team Collegeinsider.com tournament and hosting a first-round game against Southern Miss (20-13) on Thursday.

But it was a tough closing stretch for Louisiana Tech, as star guard Kyle Gibson was limited by an ankle injury in the final couple of weeks, and then senior big man Magnum Rolle rolled an ankle early in the WAC semifinals vs. Utah State.

The Bulldogs lost 85-55 to drop to 23-10. They had been 17-2 before ending the season on a slide.

"Louisiana Tech was not themselves tonight," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said after the game. "They were not anything to full strength. ... That was not the La. Tech we have seen all year long."

The Bulldogs never did have much depth this season, so any injury to the starting group is a big deal. How healthy they will be for the opener of the CIT remains to be seen.

NOTES, QUOTES --The 85-55 loss to Utah State in the WAC semifinals was Louisiana Tech's largest defeat of the season.

--Senior G Jamel Guyton scored a career-high 31 points in a WAC quarterfinal victory over Fresno State. He posted his second career double-double by coming up with 11 rebounds.

COACH: Kerry Rupp, three years at Louisiana Tech, first year in Collegeinsider.com tournament.

KEYS TO VICTORY: Louisiana Tech will need all the healthy ankles it can get in order to try to speed the game up against Southern Miss, which has struggled on offense. It's not uncommon for the Golden Eagles to end up in the 50s in scoring. The Bulldogs, if they have the ankles and the fresh legs they had early in the season, need to exert their athleticism, but the fact that the team faded down the stretch doesn't bode well.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was a difficult transition when Coach Rupp came in and I didn't know if I would stay or go. But coach was very persuasive and he was up front with me all the way through. I'm the only one still standing out of the 12 or 13 teammates that I originally had." -- Senior G Kyle Gibson, in the Monroe News-Star

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL SCOUTING REPORT: Much will depend on the status of Louisiana Tech C Magnum Rolle (ankle) and Southern Miss F Gary Flowers (death in the family). Flowers had three double-doubles in the Conference USA tournament and averages 15.0 points and 8.3 rebounds. The Golden Eagles can win ugly. They shot 32.8 percent against Tulane in the conference tournament first round, and won. They shot 33.3 percent against UAB in the conference quarterfinals, and won. USM can play some salty defense, which could lead to a low-scoring game against a Tech team that might not be 100 percent.

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: Nevada 79, Louisiana Tech 68 Louisiana Tech 74, Fresno State 66 (WAC quarterfinals) Utah State 85, Louisiana Tech 55 (WAC semifinals)

GAME PREVIEW: vs. Southern Miss, Thursday, March 18, Collegeinsider.com tournament first round.

ROSTER REPORT: --C Magnum Rolle, who is averaging 2.1 blocks per game, was selected to the WAC All-Defensive team.

--F David Jackson, the team's sixth man, has played more recently because of injured starters. He has scored in double figures in three of his past five games.


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