The Ragin' Cajuns picked up an 83-79 conference win over UALR in overtime, and to make it sweeter, Bob Marlin earned bragging rights over a friend.

Coach Marlin and UALR's Steve Shields often share a dinner the night before games and a warm conversation afterward, but during the game it's all competition. It was everything you'd want in a friendly rivalry: effort, energy, and a fantastic ending deserving of an overtime finish.

Their friendship goes all the way back to when they shared a bench at Pensacola Junior College, which means they know each other's games all too well.

Marlin knew what needed to be done for the win, "One of our goals was to win the free throw game because Steve's teams are so good from the line."

Mission accomplished. The Ragin' Cajuns hit 19/26 from the FT line, while UALR only went 11/18 from the stripe. To sweeten the pot even more for Marlin, many of those FT's came down the stretch to force overtime and to ultimately win it. Some of them even came from freshman like Bryce Washington.

Shawn Long showed up big for his coach, providing a 23 point, 12 rebound double-double, which prompted a comment from Marlin postgame about his confidence and energy. Kasey Shepherd added 20 points and five assists, and several other players contributed in a gritty victory.

There was a lot for Marlin to be pleased with. The Cajuns outrebounded the Trojans, 47-39, and had a positive assist (17) to turnover (12) ratio. What made Marlin the most pleased?

"We forced overtime with a great defensive stop and were able to win it on the defensive side in overtime," Marlin said in postgame.

It really was a match of similar basketball minds. Both teams shot 43% in the game. There were no major disputes with the officiating or technical fouls. A clean, solid effort was put on by both teams, which is how a friendly rivalry should be settled.

It's a long bus ride home from Little Rock to Lafayette, but it will be a ride filled with smiles for Marlin and his team.

Until the Cajuns meet the Trojans again on March 5th in the Cajundome, Marlin gets a rare treat: the privilege of being able to tell your good friend, "It was good seeing you, but I can't wait to beat you again."