Louisiana Bounces Back with Emphatic 75-51 Win Over Little Rock
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns bounced back from a rough homestand with an emphatic 75-51 victory over the Little Rock Trojans to start their road trip to Arkansas.
With the win, Louisiana improved to 10-10 overall and 5-5 in Sun Belt play. Head coach Bob Marlin said that he was happy with the Cajuns' defense in the game, but he also gave credit to forwards Jordan Brown and Theo Akwuba for their solid performances.
"We played great defense tonight," Marlin said. "We played everyone tonight and everyone played well. Between Jordan and Theo, they had 31 points and 18 rebounds. They were very efficient."
Given how the Cajuns finished in their last two losses, this was the performance that this team needed. They started slow but dominated the entire second half, using their size as a clear advantage in their biggest margin of victory since the regular season opener.
Louisiana's ball security issues continued early on with four quick turnovers. On possessions where they had shot attempts, they were 2-3, but they trailed 5-4 four minutes into the game.
There wasn't much offense from either team in the first 13 minutes. A steal and fast-break layup by Cajuns guard Michael Thomas gave Louisiana a 13-10 lead.
After Little Rock went on a 7-0 run late in the first half, the Cajuns scored eight quick points to regain the lead, 24-19. Marlin called a timeout with less than 30 seconds remaining after the Trojans missed another three, but Louisiana turned the ball over again out of the timeout. The Cajuns got a steal on Little Rock's last possession, but a missed three ended the first half.
Defensively, Louisiana was excellent. Little Rock was only 5-21 and 2-10 from three-point range in the first half. The Cajuns also dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Trojans 18-10. The one thing that kept the game close was poor ball security by Louisiana. The Cajuns entered the break with 14 first half turnovers.
Guard Kentrell Garnett opened the second half with his second three of the game to stretch the run to 11-0, but Little Rock hit a jumper. Each team scored on their first three possessions, but the Cajuns were still in front 31-25.
Brown was more aggressive offensively to start the second half, scoring 10 points in the first eight minutes. Another Garnett three gave Louisiana their biggest advantage at 11 points, but the Cajuns kept going. They went on a 14-2 run to break the game open, using great defense to take a commanding 49-33 lead.
Louisiana's offense continued their hot stretch in the second half, hitting five of six shots to spark another 9-0 run. With less than two minutes remaining, the Cajuns lead had ballooned to 71-44. The clock ran out, and Louisiana finished off a dominant second half with a 75-51 victory.
The Cajuns controlled this game with their size, out-scoring Little Rock 46-14 in the paint. Despite shooting 28% from three-point range, they were 70% from the field on two-point shots. They out-rebounded Little Rock 41-18. The Trojans shot 12 more free throws than the Cajuns, but Louisiana's defense was stout the entire night, holding Little Rock to 29% shooting from the field.
Brown finished with the most points for Louisiana, and 15 of his 20 points came in the second half. Akwuba was the only other player in double-digits with 11. It was an emphatic victory that may get their season back on track.
Up next, Louisiana plays at Arkansas State on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 4:00 p.m. The Red Wolves are 14-5 overall and 5-2 in Sun Belt play, but the Cajuns beat them 83-77 in overtime at the Cajundome on January 6th.