Cajuns Look to Clinch Sun Belt Title in Alabama
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns are oh-so-close to winning the Sun Belt Conference regular season championship and claiming the top seed in the conference tournament for the first time since 2004 and only the second time since joining the league in the 1991-92 season.
But the road beckons. And, the road is never easy.
The Cajuns (23-4, 13-1 Sun Belt) head to Alabama for two games this week, starting at Troy Thursday night. Game time will be 30 minutes after the conclusion of the women's game, which begins at 5:00. The Trojans (13-14, 7-7) and Cajuns will be playing for the second time this year. The Cajuns were victorious 81-69 at the Cajundome January 27th.
The Cajuns, who will meet South Alabama Saturday night at the Mitchell Center in Mobile, have a three game lead on second place Georgia State with four games remaining. One win will give the Cajuns at least a share of the title, while any combination of Louisiana victories and Panthers' losses totaling two will give the Cajuns the top seed and outright championship
In the first meeting between the two schools,, the Cajuns' JaKeenan Gant scored a career high 24 points on 9-14 shooting from the field. Gant was one of four Cajuns to reach double digits, being joined by Frank Bartley and Johnathan Stove with 18 points each, while Bryce Washington added eleven with a team high nine rebounds.
All-Sun Belt performer Jordan Varnado led the Trojans with 18 points, while B. J. Miller added 17. Javan Johnson chipped in eleven points while Wesley Person was held to ten.
Troy jumped out to a 14-7 lead in the first six minutes, but the Cajuns battled back to take a 40-36 lead when Gant banked home a triple at the buzzer. The Trojans tied the game at 46 all with 15:23 to go before Bartley hit a pair from downtown to give the Cajuns the lead for good. Louisiana had a double digit lead, 69-59 at the 8:43 mark and the advantage grew to 80-63 with 1:30 to go.
Bartley enters tonight's game needing just 47 points to become the 47th member of the Cajuns' 1,000 point club. Washington will start start his 100th career game on Thursday, moving him into sixth place in Cajuns' history. Washington also needs 14 rebounds to pass Marcus Stokes (1,046) for third place all-time.