RUSTON - It was an all-around effort by Louisiana Tech on Thursday night with four different players scoring in double digits and eight different players grabbing at least four rebounds as the Bulldogs ran past UTSA in a 74-49 victory in the Thomas Assembly Center.
LA Tech (20-3, 11-0 WAC) kept their amazing winning streak alive, increasing it to 12 straight and becoming the fastest Bulldog team to reach win No. 20 in program history.
After needing all nine of Kenyon McNeail's three-pointers in San Antonio a month earlier to defeat the Roadrunners by two points, the Bulldogs raced out to an early 9-0 lead and went wire-to-wire for the decisive victory.
"I thought our defensive effort was just so much better," said head coach Michael White in comparing the two matchups with UTSA this season. "The way we started the game, the first five or 10 minutes, set a tone of getting stops and forcing contested shots with our press. We made a couple of open shots early in the game that I thought fed our guys some confidence."
The Bulldog defense forced seven turnovers in the first five minutes of action and UTSA (5-17, 1-11 WAC) did not make their first field goal until the 12:29 mark in the first half.
The Roadrunners cut it to within seven, 14-7, but the 'Dogs hit back-to-back three-pointers by Brandon Gibson and Raheem Appleby to spark a 9-2 run that stretched the lead to 23-9.
LA Tech controlled the rest of the half, especially on the defensive end, amassing 32 rebounds and only allowing 20.8 percent shooting from the field for UTSA as the Bulldogs marched into halftime with a 34-19 advantage.
"[UTSA] is a team that is better than their record indicates," said White. "They have really built a good program there. I thought that even though they were a little bit bigger tonight, I thought we responded by really throwing our bodies around. We did a great job blocking out tonight. I thought our wings were tremendous flying to the offensive glass, just doing their job. Cordarius and Jaron really led that charge."
A layup by Chris Anderson coming from one of Kenneth Smith's nine assists on the night got the Bulldogs quickly going again to start the next period.
After only having one rebound and zero points in the first half, Anderson erupted for new career-highs of 11 points and seven boards in the second half.
Cordarius Johnson tied Anderson for the team-high with 11 points while Appleby and Jaron Johnson tallied 10 apiece as the Bulldogs led by as much as 28 and finished with the 25-point win.
"Even though if you look at the stat sheet you may not think we had any big producers, numbers wise, but I thought we had nine or 10 guys, maybe 11 or 12, that played pretty well and contributed in different facets of the game," said White. "I was really proud of our effort. This is as well as we have played."
The Bulldog bench came up big once again, outscoring the Roadrunners 39-4 and, once again, converted from the foul line by shooting 17-of-20.
UTSA shot just 29.6 percent from the field and came in averaging 7.76 made three-pointers per game, but only managed to hit 2-of-10.
The Roadrunners were led by Kannon Burrage who led all scorers with 15 points. Also scoring in double figures for UTSA was Michael Hale III who added 11 points.
The crowd of 4,061 screaming Bulldog fans marked the third straight home game of at least 4,000 in attendance at the TAC.
"The crowd has been awesome," said White. "I couldn't be more appreciative and excited. Our kids, it's so rewarding for them. It feeds to their energy level. I couldn't thank our fans enough how much a factor they are, especially for a team that presses."
Louisiana Tech returns to the hardwood Saturday, Feb. 9, as they face off against Texas State in a 7 p.m. tip off in the Thomas Assembly Center.