ULM (0-1) at Louisiana Tech (4-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 24, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas Assembly Center (8,098) -- Ruston, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: ULM 0-0, Louisiana Tech 1-0. Away Record: ULM 0-1, Louisiana Tech 1-1. Neutral Record: ULM 0-0, Louisiana Tech 2-0. Conference Record: ULM 0-0, Louisiana Tech 0-0. Series Record: Louisiana Tech leads 50-36.
GAME NOTES: After a 13-day break the ULM Warhawks will get set for a road test against the streaking Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Thomas Assembly Center.
On Nov. 11 ULM opened its season up with an 85-51 rout on the road to Oklahoma. Since then the Warhawks have been idle leading up to this contest. Taking big losses was the norm for the team last season when it went just 3-26 overall, although all three wins did come on the road. The Warhawks will play their home opener next Thursday against Western Kentucky.
Louisiana Tech also dropped its season opener but since then, has yet to lose. The last three games were all part of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic with the most recent victory coming in a 71-63 decision over Chattanooga. The Bulldogs won four straight games just once last season. Louisiana Tech will remain at home to host another team from within the state in a matchup on Wednesday against Southeastern Louisiana.
This will be the 87th meeting between these instate foes. In the previous matchups, Louisiana Tech has the upper hand with a 50-36 mark against ULM all- time.
ULM was simply dominated in its loss to Oklahoma in the season opener. The Warhawks shot just 34.5 percent overall, were outscored 27-9 from beyond the arc, and had a 49-30 deficit in rebounds. Amos Olatayo was the only player on the floor for the Warhawks that seemed to be able to get anything going, as he put in 21 points and brought down eight rebounds.
The Warhawks are a largely new team from last season with four starters lost from that squad. That's not necessarily a bad thing as new blood could help a team that won only three games. Olatayo and fellow juco transfer Jayon James are some of the newcomers that were brought into right the ship. James has the ability to be a consistent contributor across the board after he averaged 7.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game last year at Lamar State-Port Arthur. Olatayo was an all-conference player for Navarro College averaging 9.4 points per game. Those two along with four other newcomers are being tasked with improving on the team's -11.4 scoring differential last season. After one game that improvement has yet to materialize.
Louisiana Tech earned its victory against Chattanooga largely in the first half. The Bulldogs had a 42-34 edge at the break after connecting on 47.8 percent of its shots from the floor including 7-of-13 from 3-point range. In the second half the Bulldogs cooled off and made just 1-of-10 attempts from beyond the arc but hit free throws down he stretch to seal the win. Raheem Appleby was the lead scorer in the game with an impressive 30-point showing.
Even though it is off to a solid start in terms of wins and losses, Louisiana Tech could use some improvement on offense. The Bulldogs are shooting just 38.7 percent from the floor this season while scoring 67.4 points per game. That type of inefficiency has yet to be exposed as the Bulldogs are limiting opponents in scoring (59.0 ppg) and field goal percentage (37.7). Appleby (18.6 ppg) is the unquestioned go-to scorer for the Bulldogs. He has already scored 20 or more points in three games this season and been in double figures four times. Cordarius Johnson (13.0 ppg) and Brandon Gibson (10.6 ppg) are the second and third options. Kenneth Smith (5.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.8 apg) has filled up the box score in a variety of ways, while MCihale Kyser (3.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg) is another one of the team's more reliable rebounders.
Momentum can swing a game at the college level and right now the Bulldogs have a ton. With Appleby at the helm, and a home crowd at their back the Bulldogs should make quick work of the Warhawks.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 74, ULM 62
11/24 10:31:52 ET