Louisiana Upsets Texas State 79-72 to Advance to SBC Semifinals
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns men's basketball team pulled off a massive upset in a 79-72 victory against the Texas State Bobcats in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
The Cajuns improved to 15-14 with the win, and they have won five of their last six. For the second consecutive game, Louisiana took down a team that beat them twice in the regular season.
Forward Jordan Brown was outstanding for the Cajuns, and he scored a career-high 31 points. Louisiana had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, they shot very well from the free throw line, and they out-rebounded the Bobcats. The Cajuns simply out-played the best team in the conference to advance to the Tournament semifinals. There, they will face the fourth-seeded Troy Trojans.
Both teams started 2-9 from the field, but Texas State hit a three and a free throw to take an early 6-4 lead. Forward Theo Akwuba had the first four points for the Cajuns, and Brown tied the game with a jumper.
After the Bobcats went on a quick five-point spurt, Louisiana answered with a jumper by guard Greg WIlliams Jr. and a three by Brown. Texas State opened up a six-point lead, and head coach Bob Marlin picked up a technical foul in the process. Brown's jumper cut the lead to 18-14, but the Bobcats answered with a field goal.
The Cajuns went on a pivotal run late in the first half that changed the entire game. Akwuba got a put-back shot for his sixth point of the first half, and Williams nailed his first three of the game to get Louisiana within one point. Following a Bobcats turnover, Williams hit another three to give the Cajuns a 22-20 lead: their first since the score was 4-3. Texas State broke their three-minute scoreless drought with a free throw.
Brown converted a layup to extend Louisiana's run to 10-1. The Cajun defense in this stretch was excellent. Texas State missed eight straight shots and went eight minutes without a made field goal. Brown hit his fifth shot of the first half to put the Cajuns up 26-21, and Williams drilled his third straight three to answer a pair of free throws by the Bobcats.
Louisiana went to the free throw line twice, but they split both pairs. Texas State finally hit a buzzer beating layup to snap their drought without a field goal, and the Cajuns took a six-point lead into halftime break. Louisiana out-scored the Bobcats 17-5 in the final 8:27 of the first half.
Brown led the team with 12 points while Williams added 11 before the break. The biggest news offensively in the first half was a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. The Cajuns had eight assists and only six turnovers before halftime. Defensively, they held the Bobcats to 27% shooting from the field.
Brown was unstoppable at the start of the second half for Louisiana. He scored the first six points out of the break, but Texas State finally hit their first three-pointer on their third attempt. Brown continued to stay aggressive with a jumper, and Williams hit a layup. Louisiana went on a 10-3 run in the first four minutes of the second half.
Brown scored yet again to put the Cajuns up 15, and Texas State hit a layup to break a nearly three-minute scoreless drought. Guard Jalen Dalcourt answered with his first three-pointer of the day to make it 46-30 for Louisiana. Brown had a big dunk, but Texas State hit three straight shots to cut into the Cajun lead.
Both teams went three minutes without a field goal. Texas State was able to take advantage of Louisiana fouls to convert points at the free throw line. Theo Akwuba hit a nice hook shot, and, after Texas State got a layup, Durey Cadwell nailed a big three-pointer to push the lead back out to 13 points at 55-42. Guard Michael Thomas rebounded a Bobcats air ball and got a layup on the other end.
Texas State beat the shot clock with a field goal to avoid a turnover, but Brown responded with a dunk.
The Bobcats hit three straight shots to go on a 7-0 push, cutting Louisiana's 15-point lead to eight at 61-53 with less than five minutes remaining. In that time, the Cajuns went on a three-minute scoring drought, and Marlin called a timeout. Brown finally broke it with his 30th point of the game to get the lead back out to 10 points.
Thomas hit a pair of free throws, and the Bobcats ended a streak of five missed field goals with a three. With about 90 seconds left, all Louisiana needed to do to ice the game was hit free throws. Guard Trajan Wesley did just that, hitting two more to make it 69-58.
Following a missed three, Thomas got the rebound and converted two more free throws. After Brown split a pair at the line, two free throws by Texas State brought the Cajun lead back down to 10. On the next possession, Wesley was called for an offensive foul, and the Bobcats took advantage with a three-point play. Wesley split two free throws on the other end, so the lead was 73-65 with less than 50 seconds remaining.
Texas State missed two three-point shots, and Williams hit both free throws on the other end. Louisiana iced the game at the free throw line. They were excellent from the stripe, hitting 22 of their 26 attempts in the second half. The efficient foul shooting prevented the Bobcats from pulling off the comeback. Louisiana won 79-72 in a massive upset to shake up the Sun Belt Tournament.
Brown finished with 31 points and eight rebounds. Williams added 15 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists. Akwuba had eight points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks for Louisiana. Defensively, the Cajuns played an excellent game, holding the Bobcats to 36% shooting. Texas State only hit seven of their 20 three-point attempts, and Louisiana out-rebounded them 45-33.
Up next, the Cajuns play in the Sun Belt Tournament semifinals against the Troy Trojans. Louisiana played the Trojans once this year, and they won 69-59 at the Cajundome. Troy is 20-10 this season.