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Troy (9-15) at Louisiana (17-9)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 20, 8:05 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Cajundome (12,068) -- Lafayette, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: Troy 7-4, ULL 11-2. Away Record: Troy 2-9, ULL 5-7. Neutral Record: Troy 0-2, ULL 1-0. Conference Record: Troy 4-8, ULL 8-5. Series Record: Louisiana leads, 8-5.

GAME NOTES: The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns will try to continue their climb up the Sun Belt Conference standings when they take on the Troy Trojans at the Cajundome on Thursday night.

Louisiana has thrust itself into the Sun Belt title chase with wins in five straight games. The winning streak has pushed the Cajuns to 17-9 overall and into third place in the league (8-5). They will have a critical test at first- place Georgia State this Saturday.

Troy has made meager strides in its last three contests, winning two of those games. However, the Trojans, who are just 9-15 overall and 4-8 in conference action, lost five straight bouts prior to their recent upswing. They visit South Alabama in the second half of a two-game road trip on Saturday.

One of Louisiana's eight Sun Belt triumphs came against the same Troy team it matches up here. The Ragin' Cajuns claimed a 72-59 victory over the Trojans on Jan. 18, marking their fifth win in the last six meetings. As a result, Louisiana leads the all-time series, 8-5.

Troy pulled off perhaps the biggest upset of the season in the Sun Belt last time out, handing Georgia State its first league loss of the campaign (85-81). The Trojans were consistent from the floor all game, netting 49 percent on field goal attempts, including an impressive 12-of-27 effort from 3-point range.

Normally the Trojans struggle to find their offensive rhythm. This season they are netting just 68.5 ppg on 42 percent shooting, ranking seventh and eighth, respectively, in the conference. Hunter Williams (12.7 ppg) leads the team in scoring, despite only shooting 34.8 percent from the field. However, it was Jeff Mullahey (9.3 ppg) and Tevin Calhoun (9.8 ppg) who led the way against Georgia State. Mullahey finished with a game-high 27 points and Calhoun logged a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds. It was quite the surprise considering Antoine Myers (11.8 ppg) and Kevin Thomas (10 ppg) are usually the next options following Williams.

The key to Louisiana's most recent win, an 85-67 rout of Arkansas State, was its work inside. The Cajuns owned a 40-23 advantage in rebounds and outscored the Red Wolves in the paint, 44-24. They didn't give their opponent many opportunities to attack the glass, netting 52.5 percent of their total shots.

As usual, Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long led the way to victory for Louisiana. Payton (19.9 ppg, 5.9 apg, 2.5 spg) leads the Sun Belt in assists and steals and ranks second in scoring. He finished with 22 points and seven assists against ASU. Meanwhile, Long (19.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.9 bpg), who leads the Sun Belt in rebounds and blocks, tallied 16 points and 11 boards. Thanks to the formidable duo, the Cajuns are the highest scoring team in the Sun Belt (81.4 ppg), while ranking second in both assists (13.8 apg) and field goal percentage (.465).

Payton and Long are two of the more talented players in the country, let alone the Sun Belt. They seem to be getting a bit more help from their supporting cast of late, a trend that should continue on Thursday.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 81, Troy 74

02/20 10:35:09 ET

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