Jan. 1, 2016
GameDay Central | Game Notes
RUSTON ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢'Â¬" Louisiana Tech continues its four-game home stand on Saturday when it opens up the new calendar year with a 6 p.m. matchup versus Southern Miss inside the Thomas Assembly for the Conference USA opener.
LA Tech (11-2) wrapped up non-conference play this past Monday with a strong defensive effort which propelled the team to its 38th straight home win.
"We have improved in many areas, learned a lot about ourselves and still have much room for growth," head coach Eric Konkol said about the team's progress through 13 games. "Most of our team is new to Division I basketball or have an expanded role from last year. They have come together to produce some positive moments this non-conference season."
Some of the highlights thus far have been winning home games against quality teams like UT Arlington, Louisiana-Lafayette and Southern. The Bulldogs have also had success on the road, winning at Ohio State and Florida Gulf Coast.
There has been an abundance of good individual performances as well, like Alex Hamilton's 23 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in the most recent victory over Prairie View A&M.
Included in those statistical numbers was Hamilton setting the new program record for career made free throws when he hit No. 471 early in the second half, passing Gerrod Henderson (1998-2002).
The senior guard has been on a torrid pace the last six games, averaging 22 points per game while shooting a whopping 63 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range.
It is a new season though for Hamilton and the Dunkin' Dogs as emotions and effort ramp up for conference.
"Conference play has a different intensity than the non-conference," Konkol said. "Programs have history playing, are familiar with each other's style and everyone is pursuing a championship. All of the teams are pushing to improve everyday which produces extremely competitive basketball in January, February and March."
The quest for a fourth straight conference regular season title and a third straight C-USA title begins Saturday night against Southern Miss (3-8).
After dropping the first six games of the season, the Golden Eagles have won three of their last five with victories over North Dakota State, South Alabama and SE Oklahoma State.
"Southern Miss is playing very well defensively," Konkol said. "They play with aggressiveness and discipline and mix up their defenses. They have a lot of movement on offense and challenge teams to guard the entire shot clock."
USM is limiting its opponents to 64.5 points per game which ranks 51st in the country. Their last eight opponents have not eclipsed the 70-point mark. On offense, they are led by Kourtlin Jackson and Khari Price who each average 10 points per game.
Saturday will mark the 76th time these two squads hook up on the hardwood. Since 2007, there have been nine hard-fought meetings with the Bulldogs winning five and the Golden Eagles winning four.
Fans can access live video and audio of the game via the Internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at LATechSports.com. The game can be heard live on the LA Tech Sports Network on KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston), KRMD 1340 AM (Shreveport) and KJVC 92.7 FM (Mansfield). The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will call the play-by-play and Jack Thigpen will provide analysis.
Twitter users can also receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.