The Ragin' Cajuns had a Merry Christmas
- 27 Dec, 2016
The Ragin' Cajuns had a Merry Christmas and wish you and your family a Happy New Year in 2017! But before we ring in the New Year in Jonesboro, Arkansas for the Sun Belt conference opener vs. Arkansas State let's review the last couple of weeks.
We beat Loyola out of New Orleans by a score of 94-60 during the reading day of exam week. They came in 8-2 with a very impressive group. Frosh PJ Hardy provided a spark off the bench as he made 6 of 8 field goals including 4-5 from three point range. After two more days of finals, Louisiana Tech came to the Cajundome on Saturday night.
This is our oldest rivalry that was renewed just three years ago. As a coach you are always concerned playing during and after exams. Guys stay up late studying and competing in the classroom and can tired physically and mentally. You have to work in short practices around their exam schedules that usually start at 4:00. We passed our first half test against Tech as we jumped to a 26-6 lead to open the game.
The lead was 20 with just over 10 minutes left when Jacobi Boykins from Tech put on a three point show. The junior made 7-7 threes the last nine minutes to close the gap but we won our eighth straight game 91-83. And did I mention we are 3-1 vs. Tech since the series has continued?
Next up was a SEC opponent in Georgia. The Bulldogs were coming off a nine day exam break of their own but showed no rust as they jumped out to a 10-0 lead. After trailing by 17 first half points, we got it to two at 38-40 before losing by a score of 60-73. Georgia blocked 11 shots as we shot a season low 28.8% from the floor. Bryce Washington had two quick fouls in the first 1:24 but wound up with a career best 18 boards in 34 minutes.
We made it back to Lafayette determined to start another streak after a poor performance. After two good practices we headed for New Orleans Friday night for our Saturday afternoon game vs. UNO. We love playing at Lakefront Arena as it is the site of the SBC Tournament in March. There was plenty of RED in the arena as the Ragin' Cajun fans were out in force for a Cajun double header. Our football team was also in the Crescent City making another appearance in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl that evening. UNO brought a 4-4 record into the game with wins over Tulane by 15 and at Washington State by 16.
They had a senior lineup and are a former SBC rival of ours so we expected a great game. We jumped out to a 24-14 first half lead before leading at the break 34-31. The Privateers came out hot in the second half and went up by seven with 5:19 remaining. Trailing by three with 2:20 remaining, we closed the game on an 8-0 run to win 76-71. Our lone senior, Jay Wright, would not let us lose as he scored big basket after big basket down the stretch to finish with a game high 27.
The Pepperdine Waves were our next opponent on December 20 at the Cajundome. They also were coming off an extended lay off because of exams. This was a return game from our trip to Malibu while playing UCLA last season. We jumped out to a 41-26 halftime lead led again by the marksmanship of PJ Hardy. The freshman guard made 3-3 three pointers and finished 4-5 from distance as we won 90-64. We played a stellar second half shooting 65.6% from the floor and forcing 24 turnovers to our 10. The win capped a 7-0 home record and was our 23rd non-conference win in a row at home.
Proud of this team. They had a good semester in the classroom and on the court. Our 10-3 start is the best record in 26 years and our 3 road wins before Christmas is the most in 37 years. We also are ranked 16th in the College Insider Mid Major poll. Next up is a very strong SBC schedule as we play an unbalanced 18 game format. Our league was rated 12th in the RPI earlier and has several impressive out of conference wins. It should be an exciting regular season and tournament in the Sun Belt Conference.
Heading to Arkansas!
It’s game day. We play host to Loyola (New Orleans) tonight at the newly renovated Cajundome.
We head into tonight’s game, winners of six straight. Our modest win streak has enabled us to climb into the rankings for the first time this season. The Ragin’ Cajuns are currently No. 20 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. We are one of three Sun Belt teams in the Top 25, with UT Arlington at No. 7 and Arkansas State at No. 21. It’s going to be a highly competitive race in the Sun Belt this season, but we still have five non-league games before conference play begins.
We closed the doors at Blackham for the final time, with a win over Texas Southern. The Tigers came in fresh off wins over La Salle, Rice and James Madison. We opened the second half on a nice run and were able to pull away.
It was a great atmosphere in Blackham. Bo Lamar was in attendance as we paid tribute to the late-great Beryl Shipley. Many of his former players were on hand that night. They are affectionately known as “The Shipley Boys.” It’s a group that includes players from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Coach Shipley was the first coach to be inducted into the Hall of Fame here at Lafayette and I was very proud to have been on the committee, which made a presentation for his induction.
We were 3-0 this season in Blackham.
Four days after beating Texas Southern, we opened the doors to the revamped Cajundome. In front of over 4,900 we beat Nicholls State. We used a 16-2 run to open the second half and maintained a good lead over the final twenty minutes.
We had a short practice on Friday and then made the trip over to Lake Charles to face McNeese State. It’s only an hour away so in the past we have made the drive over on game day. This time we decided to stay in Lake Charles the night before the game. We had not won at McNeese State since 2004 and we hadn’t won in Burton Coliseum since 1999. It’s a big rivalry so we wanted to get back on the winning side of it.
They jumped out to an early lead and we trailed 18-8. That deficit grew to 30-16 with 6:29 remaining in the first half. We then went on a 28-1 run to go up 13 at halftime and we held a double-digit lead throughout the second half.
We were 31-for-36 from the free throw line and we out-rebounded McNeese 48-15. Bryce Washington had 15 rebounds himself. Johnathan Stove had a career-best 20 points. Jay Wright, who had recently set a career-high with 27 points, set a new mark with 28.
After the game the entire team went to the home of P.J. Hardy’s grandparents for quite the postgame meal. After the feast it was a very quiet ride back to campus!