LAFAYETTE — With his Louisiana-Lafayette men’s basketball team mired in a bit of a slump, coach Bob Marlin said he was thinking about toying around with his starting lineup to find the best on-floor combination.
Since then, he has used three different starting lineups in four games, and Saturday’s contest at Texas State was the first time the Ragin’ Cajuns used a starting five of Jay Wright, Hayward Register, Johnathan Stove, Bryce Washington and Shawn Long.
It was the first start of Register’s career. Marlin has looked for ways to get his sweet shooting stroke more involved, but Register has played limited minutes at times because his defensive ability doesn’t match his offensive skills.
Register finished with six points on 2-of-8 shooting in 19 minutes of the Cajuns’ 72-63 win, but his pair of second-half treys were just what the doctor — or Marlin — ordered. Marlin said he got on Register after the sophomore passed up a good look late in the first half.
“We told Hayward at halftime, ‘You’ve got to come out and shoot. You’re a shooter,’ ” Marlin said in a postgame radio interview. “He hit two big shots in the corner for us and gives us some momentum.”
Stove and Washington, both freshmen, have started in back-to-back games. Stove had a career best night Saturday, scoring a team-high 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
Brian Williams was held out of the starting lineup for only the second time this year, and he played a season-low five minutes.
One for you, one for you ...
Wright became the first player this season to accumulate a double-digit assist total when he passed out 10 assists against Texas State.
It was a career-best total for Wright, who became the first Cajuns player since Elfrid Payton to post 10 or more assists in a game.
It was one of the Cajuns’ better games this season in terms of assists. Fifteen of their 23 buckets came with a helping hand from a teammate.
Where they stand
With eight games left in the regular season, the Cajuns are within striking distance of the Sun Belt’s top teams, but a lot will have to go the Cajuns’ way for them to have a shot at the league’s regular-season title.
The Cajuns (12-10, 6-5) and UT-Arlington (12-9, 6-5) are 21/2 games back of Sun Belt leader Georgia Southern (15-4, 8-2), and two games behind second-place teams Georgia State (15-7, 8-3) and UL-Monroe (14-8, 8-3). The Cajuns split the season series with Georgia State and will try to even the score on the road against Monroe and at home against Georgia Southern.
Georgia State and Georgia Southern will meet for the first time this season Thursday in Statesboro.
The women’s team likely won’t have a shot at the regular-season crown — Arkansas-Little Rock (17-3, 10-1) and Arkansas State (15-7, 10-2) are well out in front of the pack — but the Cajuns can work their way into a low seed for the conference tournament with a strong finish.
The women (14-6, 6-5) are a game back of third-place teams Troy and Texas State (both 12-8, 7-4), and they’ll play each of those teams one more time.
Odds and ends
The Cajuns men connected on 20 of their 23 free-throw attempts, their second-best free-throw shooting percentage of the year. … They only turned the ball over nine times, which tied their fewest turnovers in a game this season. … Long turned in his third consecutive game with 12 or more rebounds; he had 13.