LAFAYETTE — At one point in the second half of Louisiana-Lafayette’s 74-54 exhibition win against Spring Hill, someone on the Badgers bench yelled something that hasn’t been heard often this season.
“Know where 13 is!” someone yelled, referring to Howard Register’s uniform number.
That could only mean one thing: Register’s stroke was back.
The junior sharpshooter, who had been mired in an ugly slump for much of the first part of the season, knocked down six shots from 3-point range against Spring Hill on his way to a game-high 22 points.
The win doesn’t count for the Cajuns and the 3-pointers won’t count toward Register’s season stats, but he won’t forget the feeling of watching the shots sink.
“I just wanted to use this game to get better at shooting the ball,” Register said. “I always have confidence when I shoot the ball, but seeing it go through the net, that’s mainly what I needed to see. I should be good going into conference.”
The Cajuns took control of the game from the opening tip, roaring out to a 15-2 lead in the first four minutes of the game.
Senior forward Shawn Long drilled the Cajuns first field goal of the game with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and did the majority of the damage for the Cajuns in those opening moments, with nine points on 4-of-4 shooting in his first four minutes.
“The first group got us off to a good start,” said coach Bob Marlin. “I thought they got some minutes and shook some rust off and played good on both sides of the ball.”
But Wednesday night was not the first unit’s turn to shine. The night belonged to Register and his suddenly resurgent jump shot.
Register is shooting a career-low 28.2 percent from 3-point range this season, but has started to bust out of his slump lately. He’d made seven of his last 16 attempts from deep heading into Wednesday night’s game and got off to a quick start by draining his first two attempts.
He finished the night making six of his 10 shots, all of which came from beyond the 3-point arc.
“I’ve just got to go out there and take smart shots instead of trying to rush things, and that’s what I did tonight,” Register said. “I kind of settled down, set my feet and had success.”
Marlin was also pleased with the play of Steve Wronkoski and Devonta Walker, Wronkoski played 27 minutes and scored 12 points, both of which would’ve been a season high if the numbers were official, and Walker scored seven points in 13 minutes off the bench.
Those efforts should provide a needed lift in the confidence department, Marlin said.
“That’s the purpose of (the midseason exhibition), absolutely, to get some confidence going,” Marlin said. “Hayward certainly got his shot in, Steve played the most minutes he’s played and had his best results. … Did a nice job calming down the team when he was out there. We had good ball movement. I felt like he made some strides.”
The exhibition also served to get some players some rest.
Long finished with 15 points and five rebounds in just 14 minutes, and other frequently-used players like Jay Wright (13 minutes) and Johnathan Stove (14 minutes) spent most of the night resting their legs.
Bryce Washington did not play Wednesday night as he continues to rest a sore knee, though Marlin said he could’ve gone if he needed to.
“Bryce will play Saturday,” Marlin said. “He could’ve played, he practiced today. … Our trainer B.J. Duplantis and I talked with Bryce and thought it was in his best interest to sit out.”
The Cajuns will return to the Cajundome floor Saturday to begin the main portion of their Sun Belt Conference schedule against Appalachian State.
“All in all, it was a good tuneup game for us to get ready for conference,” Marlin said. “We needed this.”