The Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns and UT-Arlington Mavericks will close out Day 2 action in NOLA, with the winner living to see another day and face WKU tomorrow.
The Cajuns will play their first game of this years tournament, after finishing the 2013-2014 year with a 20-11 overall record, and a 11-7 mark in conference play. ULL is lead by two guys who both average nearly 20 points a game. NBA prospect Elfrid Payton, who many are predicting will go in the first round of this summer’s NBA Draft, averages 19.3 points per contest, and is followed oh so closely by Shawn Long, who is averaging 19.2 points a game. The Cajuns are the highest scoring team in the Sun Belt, averaging 79.6 points as a team per game, while also being one of the most stingy defenses, and allowing the 2nd fewest points per conference game at 74.2. They do a lot of things offensively good – they have the conference’s second best field goal percentage (46%), they like to grab offensive rebounds (1st – 498 on the year), and they share the ball (2nd in assists) and create opportunities for themselves (2nd in steals, third in blocks).
On paper, it might look like the Cajuns are going to absolutely run away with this one. But, if the Mavericks can play with the heart and intensity that they did in last night’s victory over ULM, it’ll make for another good game.
Leading Maverick scorer Reger Dowell (20.1 points per game) did just that last night, by posting 18, along with dishing out four assists. The Mavs also got 16 big points from Jamel Outler, who at one point scored 8 of 10 points for the Mavericks, and hit a 3-pointer with 4:18 to play to tie the Warhawks, and UTA would never look back.
UTA shot 42% from the floor last night, and a pretty respectable 71% from the free throw stripe, and will need a slightly better performance from the floor tonight, while keeping par at the charity stripe if they have any hope of keeping up with and ultimately defeating the Cajuns.
This is shaping up to look like a good and entertaining game, and in my eyes, Texas-Arlington actually looks like what the Tops have over the past couple of years.
It would not surprise me one bit if ULL came out of the gates running, and put the Mavs in the dust. However, by the same token, it also wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if the Mavs are able to keep pace and eventually steal a victory.
We shall see, as tipoff is right around the corner.