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Gamenight: Cajuns travel to UALR

photo courtesy ragincajuns.com

Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns will try to put an end to a 14 game road losing streak tonight when they take on Arkansas-Little Rock at the  Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock on the UALR campus.

Gametime is scheduled for 7:05pm and will be heard on espn1420 and Hot 107.9.

The Cajuns are coming off a 74-65 loss to Arkansas State on Thursday.  Tonight, they’ll go up against one of the best three point shooting teams in America.

Steve Shields’ squad comes in at 10-9, 3-2 in Sun Belt play.  Shields will be back on the bench tonight after being suspended for Thursday night’s game against Louisiana-Monroe.  Associate Head Coach Joe Kleine took over for Shields as the Trojans hammered the Warhawks 81-50.  In that game, UALR torched the Warhawks’ 2-3 zone defense, hitting 17-26 from beyond the arc.  As a team, UALR shoots the trifecta at 43%, good for fourth in the nation.  In SBC play, the Trojans are even better with the three ball, shooting an astonishing .545.

The Cajuns were depleted inside against ASU Thursday night.  Colby Batiste is no longer with the squad and 6-8 senior Courtney Wallace is unavailable while academic questions are being addressed.  Tonight, that shouldn’t be a factor against the Trojans, who frequently use a four guard lineup. The Trojans will probably start 6-6 Courtney Jackson and 6-7 Montrell Thornton, but there are many minutes where 6-3 Alex Garcia-Mendoza will shift to the PF slot, in effect giving the Trojans four guards.

Soloman Bozeman leads the Trojans in scoring at 15.7 ppg, and averages more than 22 ppg in conference play.  Freshman guard Daylon “Chuck” Guy (Ft. Worth, Tx) is second in scoring coming off the bench.   The Trojans have five legitimate threats from beyond the arc, and all shoot at least 36% from outside. 

Shields (123-104, 8th season) and UL Coach Bob Marlin are long time friends.  Shields was an assistant under Marlin for one year at Pensacola Junior College.  The two had dinner together last night.  Shields is 7-3 against the Cajuns in his career.  The two teams split last season, with each team winning at home.  The Cajuns won the last meeting, 77-51 at the Cajundome.  In a bit of irony, UALR did not hit a single three point basket in that game, going 0-13.  In fact, the Cajuns held the Trojans to only 12-48 shooting from the field, including just 17% in the second half. 

In the loss to ASU on Thursday, the Cajuns had three men in double figures, with J. J. Thomas tying his career high with 16 points.  He also pulled down 10 rebounds.  Freshman Bryant Mbamalu (11 pts, 6 reb) and sophomore Javan Mitchell (career-high 12 points) were also in double digits.  Senior guard Randall Daigle, who did not play in the game Thursday after missing practice all week, should be good to go tonight. 

PROBABLE STARTERS

LOUISIANA (3-13) (1-4)

F-Scottie Farrington  6-7, 195, JR  (7.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg)

F-Travis Bureau 6-7, 195, SR (9.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg)

F- J. J. Thomas 6-5, 225, FR (7.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg)

G-Bryant Mbamalu 6-2, 180, FR (6.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg)

G- Raymone Andrews 6-2, 180 SO (5.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg)

UALR (10-9), (3-2)

F-Alex Garcia-Mendoza 6-3, 205, SR (7.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg)

F-Courney Jackson 6-6, 221, SR (6.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg)

F- Montrell Thornton 6-7, 240, SR (3.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg)

G- Solomon Bozeman 6-0, 183, SR (15.7 ppg, 2.9 apg)

G-D’Andre Williams 5-10, 156, JR (6.5 ppg, 2.9 apg)

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