GAME NOTES: The Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners will try for their third straight home victory on Saturday afternoon, as they welcome the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs to the Convocation Center for a Conference USA clash.
Louisiana Tech came into its most recent contest red-hot with wins in nine of its previous 10 games, but it fell at Texas-El Paso on Thursday night, 89-79, to slip to 5-2 in C-USA. Despite the setback, the Bulldogs are still in the midst of an outstanding 17-5 campaign, which includes a stellar 5-3 mark on the road.
UTSA has been largely disappointing this season at 7-12, but it has held its own in league play at 3-3, winning all three games at home while losing all three on the road. The Roadrunners hosted Rice on Thursday and came away with an easy 89-76 triumph.
Although Louisiana Tech beat UTSA twice in the regular season last year, the Roadrunners won in the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, 73-67. The Bulldogs still lead the all-time series, 5-2.
The Bulldogs could not keep pace with UTEP in their 10-point loss earlier in the week, getting outshot from the field, 56 percent to 42.4 percent, and outscored at the foul line, 28-15. Chris Anderson and Alex Hamilton both scored 17 points in the defeat, while Jaron Johnson chipped in with 16 points and six rebounds. Kenneth Smith shot just 2-of-8 from the field but still managed to help out with nine assists.
Louisiana Tech has grown accustomed to high-scoring outputs this season, as its 84.6 ppg is tied for fifth-best in the nation. It also plays strong defense, allowing just 67.2 ppg, thanks in large part to its outstanding turnover margin (+5.1). The team has been without Raheem Appleby (16.1 ppg) since mid-January with an ankle injury that could potentially sideline him for the rest of the season. Hamilton (15.8 ppg) has taken over as the go-to scoring in the meantime, with Anderson (11.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg), Kenyon McNeail (9.2 ppg), Smith (7.4 ppg, 7.5 apg) and Kyser (6.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.4 bpg) rounding out the deep squad.
The Roadrunners sprinted out to a 12-point lead at intermission over Rice on Thursday and never looked back from their en route to their first double-digit victory in the league this season. They shot 49.1 percent from the field, including 9-of-17 from beyond the arc, and had six players finish in double figures, led by Jordan Sims' 21 points on 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Phillip Jones (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Edrico McGregor (13 points, 10 rebounds) both registered double-doubles, while Devon Agusi, Hyjii Thomas and Keon Lewis all poured in 11 points.
UTSA shoots 44.1 percent from the field for 71.8 ppg this season and has scored at least 85 points in three straight home games, but it has been held back this season by a porous scoring defense (78.7 ppg). A dreadful -4.3 turnover margin certainly doesn't help matters either. Lewis shoots just 40 percent from the field but leads the way with 13.9 ppg and 3.0 apg. Agusi (11.8 ppg), Sims (11.5 ppg), Thomas (10.9 ppg) and Jones (6.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg) also bring regular contributions to the table.
UTSA has been outstanding at home in recent weeks, but it'll have its hands full in this one against one of C-USA's best. Louisiana Tech still has plenty of explosion even without Appleby and will be able to exploit the Roadrunners' defensive weaknesses.
Game Date and Time