Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Pullman, Wash.)
|MBB plays at LA Tech Thursday|
Game 16: Idaho (6-9, 2-3) at Louisiana Tech (14-3, 5-0)
When: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 (4 p.m. PT)
Where: Moscow, Idaho (Cowan Spectrum)
Radio: Vandal Radio Network/VandalXtra
Television: ESPN Regional [Trey Bender/Stephen Howard]
Online Video: ESPN3
Live Stats: www.LATechSports.com
A Look at the Bulldogs
Louisiana Tech is 14-3 overall and 5-0 in WAC play this season. The Bulldogs rolled to an 84-67 win at Texas State on Thursday before using a 3-pointer in the final seconds to take a 73-71 win at UTSA on Saturday. LA Tech comes into Thursday’s game on a six-game winning streak. The Bulldogs are also 6-0 at home this season and have won their last 10 home games dating back to last season. LA Tech leads the WAC in scoring average (73.3), blocked shots (5.35/gm) and turnover margin (+4.59) so far this season. The Bulldogs are also second in steals (8.65/gm), 3-point FG percentage (.300) and scoring margin (+8.8). Preseason All-WAC guard Raheem Appleby scores 14.9 points per game on .402 shooting, while sophomore forward Michale Kyser ranks eighth nationally with 3.3 blocked shots per game.
Louisiana Tech Head Coach Michael White
Michael White is in his second season as a collegiate head coach and holds a 32-19 coaching record at Louisiana Tech. He led the fifth-seeded Bulldogs to a pair of upsets in last year’s WAC Tournament, including knocking off top-seeded Nevada, before falling in the WAC Championship game. Before coming to LA Tech, White spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at Ole Miss, which he helped lead to four postseason berths and five SEC West titles.
A sluggish start put Idaho in a 17-point first-half hole on Saturday against New Mexico State. The Vandals climbed all the way back to tie the score in the game’s waning moments, but the Aggies escaped Moscow with a 71-70 win after a Vandal foul with 2.7 seconds left gave NM State a game-winning free throw. Idaho has lost three-consecutive WAC games that were decided in the game’s final seconds.
Vandals vs. Bulldogs
Idaho earned its first sweep in series history last season with a wild 90-88 overtime win at Ruston (Idaho’s first road win in seven tries at LA Tech), followed by a 73-64 home win at the Cowan Spectrum. Louisiana Tech holds a 10-5 overall series edge since the teams started playing in the 2005-06 season. Last time Idaho played in Ruston, senior center Kyle Barone had a 13-point, 15-rebound effort, while junior guard Stephen Madison added 18 points. Idaho went 22-of-24 (.917) from the free throw line and 10-of-22 (.455) from long range in the game.
Both Idaho and Louisiana Tech rank among the WAC’s top defensive teams this season, but they do so in different ways. Idaho’s +5.7 rebounding margin ranks 47th nationally and its .725 defensive rebounding percentage leads the WAC. Idaho opponents are hitting just 30.7 percent of their 3-pointers overall and a league-low 24.4 percent in WAC play. Idaho ranks 344th nationally in steals and last in the WAC with a -5.07 turnover margin. Louisiana Tech has a league-best +4.59 turnover margin and forces opponents into a WAC-high 17.0 turnovers per game. The Bulldogs are second in the WAC with 8.65 steals per game and lead the league with 5.35 blocked shots per game.
Louisiana Tech gets a lot of steals that lead to transition points. They’ve outscored opponents in on the fast break in 10 of 17 games this season by an 84-63 margin. Idaho also gets out in transition, but does so mostly on misses and defensive rebounds. The Vandals have a 113-53 scoring edge on the fast break this year and have outscored opponents in transition 14 times in 15 games.
The Four-Point Swing
You’ll probably want to get a hand in Connor Hill’s face when he shoots, because he’s 24th in the NCAA in 3-point field goal percentage (.448) and leads the WAC in in 3-point makes (2.60/gm). The thing is, he also leads the NCAA in four-point play conversions (3), so you probably don’t want to get too close. In addition to having the most four-point plays in the nation, Hill also is the only player to convert a four-point play in consecutive games, which he did on Dec. 6 at Eastern Washington, then again on Dec. 8 at UTEP.
Click on the PDF link above to view complete game notes.