Elfrid Payton scored twenty points, added seven rebounds and seven assists to lead Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns to a 74-55 win over North Texas and advancing to the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Conference basketball tournament in Hot Springs, AR.

The Cajuns will now play top-seeded Middle Tennessee tomorrow night at 6pm at the Summit Arena.

Louisiana (13-19) led at the half 33-29 despite shooting only 38 percent from the field.  But after North Texas opened with a free throw, the Cajuns hit the Mean Green (12-20) with a 13-2 run to open up a 14 point lead, 46-32 with 14:51 to play.

North Texas would get no closer than eight points, 56-48 with 6:50 to go.

Bryant Mbamalu and Alan-Michael Thompson each added 16 points for the Cajuns, while Shawn Long, the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year, notched his league leading 18th double double of the year with 12 points and eleven rebounds.

Jordan Williams led North Texas with 19 points but had only five after intermission.  Senior Roger Franklin added 13 points and Tony Mitchell, the Sun Belt's NBA prospect, had a double double with 10 points and 12 rebounds in 38 minutes.  It was the best statistical game Mitchell has had against the Cajuns in six tries.

The Cajuns only turned the ball over seven times in the contest, while the Mean Green had 14.  The Cajuns won the rebounding battle 41-39.

Mbamalu had six of his 16 points during that second half surge that carried the Cajuns to the big lead.  North Texas got the lead down to eight, and Mbamalu answered with a triple to extend the Cajuns lead to 59-48.  The Mean Green got it back to single digits on a Mitchell four point play with 5:35 left, but freshman Steven Wronkoski scored his only points of the game, a three pointer to extend the lead to 64-52.

So dominant were the Cajuns that North Texas led only twice, the last coming 6-4 after a Williams dunk.

The Cajuns defeated North Texas for the third time this season, having beaten the Mean Green 80-76 in Denton on December 1, and 105-74 on January 31 at the Cajundome.