Louisiana Tech (15-14) at Fresno State (13-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 1st, 11 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Save Mart Center (15,596) -- Fresno, California. Television: None. Home Record: LaTech 11-4, FSU 9-3. Away Record: LaTech 3-9, FSU 3-12. Neutral Record: LaTech 1-1, FSU 1-2. Conference Record: LaTech 5-7, FSU 3-9. Series Record: Fresno State leads, 14-13.
GAME NOTES: Expect another dog fight at the Save Mart Center tonight as Fresno State hosts Louisiana Tech in Western Athletic Conference action as the regular season slowly winds down.
The Bulldogs from Ruston, Louisiana are hitting all the right notes as of late, putting together a four-game win streak after dropping four consecutive outings. The team crushed Hawaii at home over the weekend in an 84-67 final which means they are now 5-7 in conference play and sixth in the standings with this and one more game remaining against league-leading Nevada on Saturday night before the regular season draws to a close.
The Bulldogs of Fresno State have shown some fight in recent weeks with four wins in the last seven contests, but still the squad is a mere 3-9 in conference play and all alone in seventh place. Last Saturday night FSU showed a lot of spunk when it hosted Nevada and took the Wolf Pack to three overtimes before suffering the 79-76 setback.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, Fresno State is ahead by a count of 14-13 and has taken five straight matchups at the Save Mart Center, although it was Tech that won the first meeting of this season by a score of 59-58 at home in Ruston in late January.
Trevor Gaskins made just five field goals last weekend against Hawaii, but four of those came behind the three-point line as he posted a team-best 22 points in the home win over the Rainbow Warriors at the Thomas Assembly Center. Gaskins also filled out his state line with eight assists and just as many rebounds to pace the program in both of those departments as well. Brandon Gibson chipped in with another 16 points and six boards as the team shot an impressive 11-of-24 beyond the arc and also fired up the defense by forcing 22 turnovers. Although he was limited to just eight points against Hawaii, Raheem Appleby is still the leading scorer for the group with his 13.9 ppg on the season, while Gaskins and Cordarius Johnson check in with 10.8 and 10.1 ppg, respectively. Those three players have combined to hit on 132 three- point baskets which is just nine shy of what all competitors combined have knocked down through 29 games.
The Bulldogs were paced by Kevin Foster who came off the bench to deliver 24 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out as Fresno State had a two-game win streak snapped in the loss to Nevada at home last weekend. Jonathan Wills posted 19 points and 10 boards, followed by Tyler Johnson and Kevin Olekaibe with 13 and 11 points, respectively, before both of them picked up their fifth personal fouls. Olekaibe, who shot only 2-of-8 behind the three-point line and 3-of-13 from the field overall, missed a couple of three-pointers in the third overtime frame before picking up a late foul which ended his night. Still one of the top scorers in the conference with his 18.1 ppg, Olekaibe has experienced the highs and lows of scoring in just the last few weeks as he was held to a mere eight points against Hawaii on Feb. 11 and then exploded for a career-high 43 points versus Seattle University a week ago, so you can never be sure what you're going to get out of him as he shoots just 37.8 percent from the field. When Wills (10.4 ppg) isn't getting into foul trouble he is capable of putting together some solid offensive efforts, but still this is a group that is scoring only 65.8 ppg on the season.
After going above and beyond in the last game over the weekend, Fresno State will be happy to keep this one to just 40 minutes in duration, although the outcome may not be to the host's liking.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 69, Fresno State 62
03/01 10:33:01 ET