LAFAYETTE — Turnovers plagued the Louisiana-Lafayette men’s basketball team earlier in the season, when it featured a bunch of new teammates figuring out how to play together.
It looked like the Ragin’ Cajuns had figured out their problems midway through the season but, for at least half of Saturday’s 75-64 loss at Georgia State, their old problem resurfaced.
The Cajuns turned the ball over 13 times in the first half as Georgia State built a large lead. It was a team effort.
Hayward Register, who played two minutes in the first half, was the only Cajuns player who made it on the court but did not record a turnover in the first half. The Cajuns had just two turnovers in the second half, but that was not enough to overcome a 14-point halftime deficit.
“We’ve got to take better care of it,” coach Bob Marlin said in a postgame radio interview. “We did a better job in the second half, had two turnovers in a game that was up and down a little bit. We gave ourselves a chance to get back in it.”
Long’s heating up
After Saturday’s 21-point effort, Cajuns big man Shawn Long has scored at least 18 points in each of his past five games, including three games of 20 or more points.
The uptick has bumped his scoring average to a season-high 17.1 points per game, the fifth-best mark in the Sun Belt.
Long also hauled in 16 rebounds against Georgia State, pushing his SBC-leading average to 9.9 rebounds.
Long is two rebounds shy of averaging a double-double, which would make him one of 19 players nationally to average double figures in two statistical categories. Long ranks 21st nationally in rebounds per game.
After getting into foul trouble early, Long turned in a big second half against Georgia State, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
“He got in early foul trouble and he got frustrated, and we took him out,” Marlin said. “He didn’t play a lot — he got 21 and 16 in 29 minutes, (so) that’s pretty good.”
Rest and recover
The Cajuns wrapped up a brutal stretch against Georgia State, which was their fifth opponent in 10 days. After jumping to a 4-0 start in SBC play, the Cajuns went 1-4 in that five-game stretch to drop into the middle of the pack in the standings.
The Cajuns (11-9, 5-4) hope the return to a more normal routine will result in a return to winning basketball.
“We’ll get back on a two-games-per-week schedule, like we’re used to, and that’s the way we’ll finish the season,” Marlin said.
The Cajuns don’t play again until Thursday, when they visit South Alabama (6-14, 4-5). Two days later, they play at Texas State (10-9, 4-6).
“Two tough road games next week, and we’re in the meat of our schedule,” Marlin said. “We’ve got to play good basketball and get through this.”