Balanced Scoring Leads Louisiana Over Xavier-Louisiana 84-72
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns opened up a double-digit lead in the first half against Xavier University of New Orleans and never looked back, using a balanced offensive attack to win 84-72 in the Cajundome.
The Cajuns are now 3-0 to start the 2021-22 season, but head coach Bob Marlin was not happy with his team's performance following the victory.
"We were disappointed," Marlin said. "I felt like we had a better practice yesterday than we played tonight. I felt like we were ready to play, but it just didn't carry over."
Louisiana's defense opened the game by forcing two turnovers, scoring the first four points of the game off of them. However, after a scoreless drought on offense matched a stretch where Xavier hit four of five shots, the Cajuns trailed 9-7. Louisiana responded with a 7-0 run in two minutes of game time to gain a 14-9 lead, but that was just the start of a big run early on.
A three-pointer by freshman guard Michael Thomas made it 17-11. The Cajuns started to pull away when junior forward Theo Akwuba hit two free throws and junior guard Jalen Dalcourt scored five straight. It stretched the huge run to 17-2 in favor of Louisiana, opening up a 24-11 lead before Xavier finally stopped it with a three-pointer.
After Xavier had cut the lead down to eight points, sophomore forward Jordan Brown sparked an 8-0 run for Louisiana. The Cajuns took a 32-16 lead late in the first half. Brown started 5-5 from the floor and hit the first three-pointer of his career.
The Cajuns took a 15-point, 43-28 lead into the halftime break. The team shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, and they had 16 points off of 10 Xavier turnovers.
Brown went into the half with a team-leading 12 points, Greg Williams Jr. had seven, and Akwuba and forward Kobe Julien each had six.
Akwuba got the Cajuns started in the second half with a dunk that he was fouled on. He added the free throw.
Xavier's offense started off hot in the second half, hitting five of their first seven shots. However, the Cajuns kept a double digit edge with some big shots of their own, including a three by Dalcourt that made the score 56-39.
A steal and dunk by Julien gave Louisiana their largest lead at 18 points. They led 65-47 midway through the second half.
Xavier got within 12 points multiple times, but Akwuba hit two straight shots and Williams nailed his second three to get the lead back up to 73-58 with less than eight minutes remaining. It was a nice answer to a good run by a Xavier team that was desperate to get back into the game.
Freshman guard Kentrell Garnett's first bucket of the game, a three-pointer with five minutes left put Louisiana up 80-61. For the Cajuns, 19 points was the largest that the margin got.
Xavier closed the game out on a 7-0 run, but the clock ran out and Louisiana won 84-72.
Brown led the way in scoring for the Cajuns with 18 points. Akwuba and Dalcourt each had 13, and Williams added 10 in the game. They shot well as a team, shooting 49 percent from the field and hit 10 of their 17 three-pointers.
Marlin said after the game that there's plenty that the undefeated Cajuns will need to work on before their trip to Indiana on Sunday.
"We've got to continue to improve and get better," Marlin said. "Tomorrow at practice, we will put this one to bed after a film session and turn our focus to Indiana."
Up next, Louisiana travels to Bloomington, Indiana to play Indiana University on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 6:30 p.m.