The game was tied at one point 19-19, and Louisiana Tech Head Coach Kerry Rupp showed his confidence in his young players by putting them on the floor with veterans DeAndre Brown and Olu Ashaolu.
The Bulldogs would close the half on a 9-0 run to take a 28-19 halftime lead. While the three freshmen eventually were replaced by Tevin Hall, Darius Rdding, and Antwond Roshell; the young guys helped spark the run that led to a lead the Bulldogs would never relinquish.
McNeill, a 6'1" point guard from Conway, AR, started the game for the 2-1 Bulldogs. Johnson, a 6'7" forward from North Hollywood, CA, ended up starting the second half. Late in the game, when Coach Rupp needed a little more size and defense on the wing, he turned to a fourth true freshman, Cordarius Johnson. All four freshmen showed flashes of what this team can become. McNeill is a steady lead guard that can knock down the open shot with confidence. Duece Johnson is already a very good defender and rebounder. Smith looks like he could be a shooting guard of the future, while Cordarius Johnson has a similar game to sophomore Darius Redding.
It was the veterans that started things off for Louisiana Tech. Olu Ashaolu and DeAndre Brown each had 6 points to lead Tech in the first half. The two would end up finishing the game with 10 points apiece. Sophomore Brandon Gibson, who showed signs of being able to create his own shot against Texas, did just that by scoring all of hius 12 points in the second half for Coach Rupp.
Roshell and fellow junior J.L. Lewis both provided solid defense down low and helped keep Houston's Maurice McNeil and Kendrick Washington out of the paint. Roshell had a big block and an offensive rebound in the 9-0 first half run.
The Bulldogs head to Irvine, CA where they will take on Seattle, Navy, and UC-Irvine. 6'9" Romario Souza will have to sit out the Seattle game to complete a four-game suspension handed down by the NCAA. Seattle's two top scorers early this season are 5'10" and 6'0" guards, so expect Tech to go small much like they did against Houston. Against the Cougars, Coach Rupp would often have Ashaolu or Duece on the floor with three guards and a small forward.
Navy and UC-Irvine have had rough starts to the season. They will look to get their seasons on track out in Irvine. Louisiana Tech will add Souza to the lineup as the Bulldogs will look to continue their early season good start. Navy and Irvine will have a little larger lineup than Seattle, so Roshell, Lewis, and Souza should see some solid minutes.
So far so good for a young team with just one senior. Lets see what the Bulldogs can put together out west this weekend. It should be a good trip.