Arkansas State (10-6) at Louisiana (6-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 12, 8:15 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cajundome (12,068) -- Lafayette, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: ASU 7-2, Louisiana 5-3. Away Record: ASU 3-4, Louisiana 1-9. Neutral Record: ASU 0-0, Louisiana 0-0. Conference Record: ASU 4-3, Louisiana 2-5. Series Record: Louisiana leads, 41-24.
GAME NOTES: The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns will try to snap a three-game losing streak on Saturday night, as they play host to the Arkansas State Red Wolves in a Sun Belt Conference showdown.
Arkansas State was the winner of a season-high four straight games heading into its contest with FIU on Thursday night, but it came out on the wrong end of a 66-64 decision. Despite the setback, the Red Wolves still boast a 4-3 record in Sun Belt action, and they have won 10 of their 16 games overall.
Louisiana's season has been largely a struggle, as it has lost twice as many games as it has won, and it currently sits with a lackluster 2-5 league ledger. Following a 79-70 win versus UALR on Dec. 29, the Cajuns have dropped three in a row, most recently falling at home to South Alabama on Thursday in heartbreaking fashion, 91-89, in double-overtime.
These two teams split the season series a year ago, with each team winning on its home floor. Louisiana holds a comfortable lead over Arkansas State all- time, 41-24.
The Red Wolves led by six points with under six minutes to play against FIU the last time out, but they lost control down the stretch as they were saddled with the two-point loss. They ultimately fell short due to their poor shooting, as they were outshot by FIU, .512 to .345. Ed Townsel was one of the few players to put forth maximum effort as he tallied 20 points, seven rebounds and a pair of steals, but he only shot 4-of-15 from 3-point range. Trey Finn added 13 points, eight boards and four steals in the setback. On the season, Arkansas State shoots just 41.5 percent from the field, but it's still able to put up more than 70 ppg. Townsel's shooting percentage leaves much to be desired (.404), but he is still one of the Sun Belt's most productive guards, logging 16.5 ppg and nearly two steals per contest. Brandon Peterson scores 11.4 ppg and grabs 9.3 rpg (second in the conference), while also pitching in at the defensive end with 1.1 spg and 1.3 bpg.
Louisiana had a chance to win its game against South Alabama in the final minute of regulation, but Elfrid Payton made just 1-of-2 at the foul line and the game went to overtime, where the Cajuns eventually fell in the second extra session. The extra playing time allowed Payton to pad his stats, as he tallied 26 points, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals, but he also committed six of the team's 24 turnovers. Bryant Mbamalu added 19 points, Shawn Long finished with 14 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks, Steven Wronkoski netted 12 points, and Elridge Moore rounded out a great effort by the starting five with nine points and eight boards. The Cajuns are no strangers to high point totals, as they average 71.7 ppg, but they are used to giving up a lot to, ranking last in the Sun Belt in scoring defense (74.3 ppg). Payton contributes across the board with 14.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg and 2.3 spg. Mbamalu drains nearly 50 percent of his field goal attempts for 14.0 ppg, while Shawn Long is one of the league's best forwards, recording 15.7 ppg, 9.5 rpg and 2.1 bpg.
Louisiana has proven it has the talent to compete with any team in the Sun Belt, but it continues to come up small when it matters the most. The Cajuns have a good shot to win on their home floor, but ASU will more than likely come up with a few big buckets down the stretch to earn the victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 70, Louisiana 68
01/12 10:33:09 ET