Louisiana Tech began their regular season with a 92-70 defeat over Mississippi College Sunday afternoon at the Thomas Assembly Center. Sunday's opening matchup marked the first time these two programs have faced each other. Tech, looking to improve their 12-20 record last year, took on a Choctaw basketball team who has not had a losing season in the last 23 years.
Head coach Mike White explained how it is important for his young and inexperienced team to carry over their intensity from practice and maintaining it throughout the game.
"We are trying to find guys that separate themselves. We substitute for effort areas in desire to create a culture of playing hard, defending and rebounding," explained White.
Within seven minutes of the first half Coach White already had played 10 players. Kenyon McNeaill was the tenth player for Tech to enter the game and scored a quick five unanswered points for the Bulldogs to give them a 16-11 lead with 11:20 to go in the first half.
The three ball was easier to come by for the Bulldogs as they shot 33.3% (6-18) from behind the arc in the first half. Trevor Gaskins came off the bench to lead the charge shooting 4-8 from the field including two three pointers. The Bulldogs lead grew to 11 but the Choctaws scored 5 unanswered to end the half trailing 39-33. The Bulldogs ended the half shooting 40% (16-40) from the field while the Choctaws shot 42.4% (14-33).
Coach White's team intensity increased as well as the scoring differential in the second half. The Bulldog's defensive pressure forced 16 Choctaw turnovers resulting in 16 fast break points. The Bulldogs biggest lead of the game, 28 points, came off a Cordarius Johnson made a three pointer with 3:08 left in the game.
The Bulldogs used a balance attack of having 11 players' score leading to their 92-70 victory. Four of the players scored in double digits. Johnson with 16, Lonnie Smith with 13, J.L. Lewis with a career high 10, and Ole Miss transfer senior Trevor Gaskins had a team high 17 points shooting 50% from the field.
Gaskins said he needs to be a bigger role model and a leader for this young Bulldog team. Against Mississippi College he tried to lead by example on the court.
"Getting stops and knocking down the open shots and making the right reads," Gaskins said was crucial for them to maintain the big lead to bring them their first victory.
Tech finished shooting 47.4% (37-78) from the field as the Choctaws finished shooting 42.9% (27-63). The biggest difference for the Bulldogs was shooting 35.3% (12-34) from three point range compared to last week of shooting 16% (5-31).
Coach White simply stated, "the glaring difference from last week's game was we made shots."
Coach White and his team make their first road trip of the year as they travel to play UT-Arlington in Texas Hall with a 7 p.m. central time tipoff.
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