Cajuns Run Past Tigers

LAFAYETTE, La. – The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns returned home after four straight games away from the Cajundome and rolled to a 76-53 win over Jackson State on Wednesday night.

The Cajuns (3-3) squared their record on the season with a defensive effort that held the Tigers (1-6) to just 33.6 percent shooting, including a season-high 10 blocked shots – the most by a Cajun team since swatting 12 against FIU in 2012.

Meanwhile, offensively the Cajuns were efficient throughout the night, hitting 47.2 percent from the floor and 24-for-32 at the foul line. Devonta Walker hit nine of his 10 tries from the charity stripe en route to a game-high 19 points to go along with eight rebounds.

"They (Jackson State) are a very aggressive team, and it showed that tonight," Louisiana head coach Bob Marlin said after the game. "But we were able to use that and get to the foul line. This was a game that was tailor-made for Devonta, being that it was an open-floor game. I thought he played very strong tonight."

Long just missed a double-double with nine rebounds, also blocking four shots in the first half. Additionally, point guard Jay Wright filled up the stat sheet despite scoring just six points by adding six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals without a turnover.

"Jay was really good defensively, especially in the first half," Marlin said. "He was aggressive and got his hands on some balls. He's getting better each time out and did some very nice things tonight."

The Cajuns finished with a 48-33 edge on the glass and turned 14 JSU turnovers into 21 points for the game. UL picked up 17 assists on 25 made baskets, including four apiece from its starting backcourt of Wright and Shepherd.

Long and Wright were just two of five Cajuns to register a block on the night, with Aaron LeBlanc picking up two in the final minutes of the game and Johnathan Stove and Bryce Washington having one each.

The win avenged a 73-70 loss in the final seconds of last year's meeting with the Tigers in Jackson and gives UL a chance to move above .500 when it takes on McNeese State in Lake Charles on Saturday. The Tigers were led by Derrell Taylor's 17 points, while the Cajuns held leading scorers Kaven Bernard and Javeres Brent to just 11 combined points.

Brian Williams reached double figures for the fifth time this season with 15 points and five rebounds on 7-for-11 shooting, while Shawn Long and Kasey Shepherd just missed double figures with nine points apiece.

The Cajuns took a 35-27 lead into the halftime break on the strength of 52.2 percent shooting, getting 10 points from Walker to lead the way. Long had six points in the half, but also brought down five boards and rejected four shots to help hold the Tigers to just 29.7 percent from the field.

But the Tigers took 14 more shots than the Cajuns in the half on the strength of 10 offensive rebounds and eight players in the scoring column. Louisiana led by as much as 11 after an 11-2 run opened things up, but JSU answered with a 9-2 run of its own before the Cajuns got consecutive buckets on a rebound put back and a dunk after a nice feed from Williams.

Louisiana finished the half by scoring on their final four possessions, getting a jumper from Williams and a pair of free throws from Wright to take the eight-point lead into the break.

In the second half the Cajuns stepped things up, especially on the glass in holding the Tigers to just two offensive rebounds. UL got eight of its first 12 points of the half at the foul line, seven coming from Walker, in keeping the Tigers' deficit at double digits before a layup from Walker sparked a 12-2 run in a span of just 2:04 that pushed the lead to 62-42.

From there Louisiana never got any closer than 13 points with 7:15 to play. But again, the Cajuns answered fast with seven straight points to up the lead back to 20. In all the Cajuns finished the game on a 14-4 run, including scoring the game's final points, ending on a deep three from Hayward Register, UL's only triple of the second half.

Louisiana will look to move to 4-3 on the season on Saturday when they go on the road to battle McNeese State. Tip time from Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles is set for 7:00 p.m.

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