Louisiana Tech (11-3) at Texas-Arlington (6-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 5, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: College Park Center (7,000) -- Arlington, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: LaTech 6-0, UTA 2-3. Away Record: LaTech 3-3, UTA 4-2. Neutral Record: LaTech 2-0, UTA 0-0. Conference Record: LaTech 2-0, UTA 1-1. Series Record: Louisiana Tech leads, 22-8.
GAME NOTES: The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs try to run their record to 3-0 in Western Athletic Conference play on Saturday night, as they challenge the Mavericks of Texas-Arlington on the road.
At home the Bulldogs are a perfect 6-0 thus far in 2012-13, but on the floor of opponents the squad is breaking even through six games. Since opening the season with a loss at Texas A&M, the Bulldogs have lost only two other outings, but those came against Northwestern State and McNeese State which makes you wonder how well this group is able to focus.
On New Year's Eve, the program won for the third straight time and the fourth in five games with an 81-72 victory against New Mexico State at home in Ruston.
As for the Mavericks, one of the newest additions to the WAC, they are heading in the opposite direction of LaTech, dropping two in a row and three of the last four overall. On Wednesday night, the team was crushed by Boise State at home in a 64-46 final.
In terms of the all-time series between these two squads, Louisiana Tech owns a 22-8 advantage dating back to the 1972-73 campaign. UTA defeated the Bulldogs early last season in a 68-61 final at home, snapping an eight-game slide versus Tech in the process.
Alex Hamilton knocked down all 10 of his free-throw attempts, finishing with a team-best 20 points for the Bulldogs as they took out NMSU to close out the 2012 calendar year. Also scoring in double figures for LaTech were Brandon Gibson with 15 as he nailed all five of his 3-point tries, Kenyon McNeail with 14 off the bench, and Cordarius Johnson with 10 points as the team made good on 11-of-22 shots out on the perimeter and turned the ball over just six times. Although he was held in check by the Aggies, Raheem Appleby remains the leading scorer for LaTech with his 16.6 ppg, but he could stand to eliminate some of his 3-point shooting since he has made good on only 18-of-63 (.286) of such attempts to this point. Johnson checks in with 11.4 ppg and has proven to be a more reliable perimeter threat with 39.4 percent accuracy, but overall the team has made just 32.9 percent from the outside.
UTA fell behind immediately to the Broncos and never recovered. In fact, the hosts didn't make their first basket until the 15:37 mark when Karol Gruszecki canned a 3-pointer, accounting for the only triple of the frame and one of the four made baskets by the Mavericks over the first 20 minutes of play. Arlington shot just 33.3 percent from the floor for the game, including 3- of-17 beyond the arc. Not a single player scored in double figures for the unit, instead it was Gruszecki and Brandon Edwards who dropped in nine points apiece, the latter adding 10 rebounds in the lost cause as well. The Mavericks are not a team that likes to open up the floor and play at a fast pace, instead the goal is to keep scores to a minimum, which is why there isn't a single player on the roster who is scoring in double figures through 11 games. The good news is that, while UTA is scoring only 58.7 ppg, the defense is holding the competition to just 58.0 ppg as well.
Unfortunately for the Mavericks, Louisiana Tech isn't about to let one of the latest additions to the WAC dictate the way in which the Bulldogs go about their business. The scoring won't be off the chart, but it will still favor the visitors tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 69, Texas-Arlington 57
01/05 10:39:35 ET