Denver (16-6) at Louisiana (12-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 2nd, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cajundome (13,500) -- Lafayette, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: Denver 10-2, Louisiana 8-3. Away Record: Denver 6-4, Louisiana 3-7. Neutral Record: Denver 0-0, Louisiana 1-1. Conference Record: Denver 6-3, Louisiana 6-4. Series Record: Louisiana leads, 18-8.
GAME NOTES: The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns try to extend their current winning streak to three games when they host the Denver Pioneers in Sun Belt Conference action tonight in Lafayette.
Denver is enjoying one of its best seasons ever as its 16 wins are second only to Middle Tennessee in the conference. The Pioneers have lost two of their last three games however, including a 64-57 decision to Arkansas-Little Rock last Saturday, knocking them out of first place in the Sun Belt West Division standings.
After struggling through the first part of its conference slate, Louisiana has won four of its last five games to move to 6-3 in the Sun Belt. The Cajuns' latest win came last Saturday over in-state rival ULM, 67-60.
This bout marks the 27th meeting between these two teams on the hardwood, with Louisiana laying claim to an 18-8 advantage. The Cajuns are 10-1 against the Pioneers in Lafayette, including a 58-52 overtime win on February 24, 2011.
Denver's offense struggled in the recent loss to Arkansas-Little Rock, putting forth its worst scoring effort in nearly a month. The Pioneers connected on a respectable 46.5 percent of their field goal attempts, but made just 6-of-20 from three-point range and turned the ball over 17 times. Despite the loss, Brian Stafford continued his pace as the Sun Belt's leading scorer, netting 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Stafford has been solid all year long, ranking first in the conference in scoring (14.8 ppg), free-throw percentage (.875), three-pointers made (55) and three-point FG percentage (.478). Chris Udofia isn't far behind Stafford in scoring with 14.2 ppg, and he leads the team in field goal percentage (.527), rebounding (5.3 rpg), assists (2.7 apg) and blocks (2.1 bpg). Overall, Denver is one of the most prolific three-point shooting teams in the nation, connecting on 40.4 percent of its long-range attempts.
Though Louisiana's effort last Saturday wasn't its best (43.1 percent shooting, 15 turnovers), it was still good enough to take down 20-loss ULM. The Cajuns fell just short of their 69.7 ppg scoring average, which is fourth- best in the Sun Belt. Josh Brown recorded 14 points on 6-of-13 field goal efficiency in the win, and he grabbed seven rebounds as well. Brown and J.J. Thomas are tied for the team lead in scoring on the season (10.6 ppg), while both players come up with more than five and a half rebounds per outing. Kadeem Coleby adds 10 ppg and he leads the conference in field goal percentage (.560), and ranks second in blocks per game (2.2). Though Louisiana's scoring defense ranks in the bottom-third of the conference, its yield of only 39.3 percent field goal efficiency ranks second.
Denver has been struggling of late and Lafayette can be a hostile place to play. Still, the Pioneers' shooting touch has been too good this season to stay cold much longer.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Denver 75, Louisiana 69
02/02 10:33:38 ET