The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns men’s basketball team was on a six-game win streak as they headed into their fourth straight home game, hosting the South Alabama Jaguars on Saturday night. That streak moved up to seven as Bob Marlin’s team blowout the Jaguars 80-60 and improved to 15-8 on the season and 8-3 in conference play.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Jaguars won the opening tip and Samuel Tabe made a mid-range shot for the game’s first points. Hosana Kitenge responded right after to tie the game and it would stay even up to 11 at the 11:43 mark of the first half. Kobe Julien and Tyrell Jones went back-to-back with three-pointers before Julien put back his miss.
Louisiana went on an 11-2 run over the next five minutes. The run started with a putback by Kitenge, Michael Thomas stopped on a dime to knock down the shot from the elbow and put up his miss a few possessions later. The run was capped off with a corner three by Joe Charles who was assisted by Kyran Ratliff.
Following a timeout, Thomas and Julien each made shots from downtown to put the Cajuns up by 11 with under seven minutes to play in the first half.
With three minutes to go, the scoring started to pick up. Thomas stole Jones’ pass in transition and passed across the court to Kitenge for an open dunk. Judah Brown and Thomas traded mid-range jumpers then Jones came back with an open three to cut their deficit to eight.
Louisiana got hot again from distance with makes by Julien and Kentrell Garnett on back-to-back possessions. Elijah Ormiston made a layup with 16 seconds left but the Cajuns went into halftime with the 40-28 advantage.
Kitenge started to pick up the pace early in the second half with a couple of put-backs but was also whistled for two fouls (3 total) and was subbed out for Ratliff less than four minutes in.
In the time, Kitenge was out, Ratliff made the most of his opportunities with a turnaround hook shot and a dunk. Charles knocked down another corner three as well and the Cajuns had a 17 lead before Marcus Millender made a layup and a timeout.
It was back and forth after the pause in action as Charles and Kitenge made shots in the paint but the Jags responded with shots by Millender, Tabe, and a three by Brown to make it 59-45, in favor of Louisiana.
The Cajuns kept up the scoring in the final five minutes as Kitenge matched Brown’s layup, then found Garnett for the open three. The made shot by Garnett forced another timeout to be called by the Jaguars but Charles stole the following inbound pass for the easy dunk.
The press defense by Louisiana led to some open looks in the paint for Julian Margrave and Jones to try and eat into the Cajuns’ lead.
South Alabama went into a press defense of their own in the final three minutes but defensive breakdowns left guys like Julien open in the corner for a three. Louisiana built on their lead late with a couple of made shots as the Cajuns improved to 15-8 and 8-3 in Sun Belt play with an 80-60 win.
BIG NUMBER: 19
Louisiana controlled the boards all night as they outrebounded the Jags 49 to 30. Three different Cajun players recorded at least 10 boards in the 20-point win over South Alabama.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Hosana Kitenge
Kitenge started the night a little slow but picked up his play quickly as he finished the night with a game-high 18 points on 8-14 shooting, had 11 rebounds (7 offensive), and three assists as the Cajuns won 80-60.
UP NEXT: The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns men’s basketball team will be on game five of this six-game home stretch when the Georgia State Panthers visit. Tipoff in the Cajundome is set for Wednesday, February 7th at 7:00 p.m.