LAFAYETTE — Attention quickly focused on Louisiana-Lafayette’s next opponent in the moments following its 80-64 road win against Appalachian State.
Sun Belt Conference rival Georgia State is coming to town Thursday night. The Panthers have only been in the conference for one year, but have already developed a solid rivalry with the Cajuns.
The Panthers won the two regular-season meetings between the two squads last season, but the Cajuns won the big one — an 82-81 overtime thriller in SBC tournament title game that put them in the NCAA tournament.
Georgia State was the unanimous preseason selection to win the conference, with the Cajuns tabbed to finish second. The Cajuns have won six of their last seven, and Georgia State lost its last game in double overtime to Texas State.
Cajuns coach Bob Marlin is hoping for a big crowd Thursday night to help energize his team.
“We need the Cajun nation to come out and support us,” Marlin said in a postgame radio interview after the Appalachian State win. “It should be a heck of a basketball game.”
Washington steps up
If there’s something of a theme for the Cajuns this year, it’s one player stepping up to have a big game off the bench. The latest to do it was freshman forward Bryce Washington, who scored 14 points off the bench in Monday’s win, 12 of which came as the Cajuns built a large first-half lead.
“Bryce Washington was the best player on the floor tonight, there’s no question about that,” Marlin said.
The 14 points marked a career high for Washington.
Making the most out of it
Junior forward Devonta Walker found himself in foul trouble early in the Cajuns’ road win against Appalachian State, and that led to him playing only 13 minutes. But he squeezed a lot of production out of those limited minutes.
Walker scored 10 points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out four assists in his short amount of time on the floor, giving him double figures in four of the Cajuns past six games.
Junior forward Shawn Long also made good use of limited minutes in the second half. After a rough shooting outing in the first half, when he made one of six shots from the field, Long tallied eight points and four rebounds in 13 second-half minutes to help the Cajuns hold their lead.
The win against Appalachian State gave Marlin 300 wins as a collegiate head coach, a milestone he said he was unaware of before the game.
Afterward, Marlin directed the credit toward those who helped him get there.
“It says you had a lot of good players and a lot of good assistant coaches,” he said. “This is a good one to win, (Appalacian State) is a tough place to play.”
Big men can pass
Typically, guards are the members of the team who rack up the most assists. But the Cajuns’ big men had a nice night contributing to the Cajuns’ scoring efforts with their passing touch. Long and Walker each had four assists, and Washington had three.
“We had 11 assists and three turnovers between them,” Marlin said. “That’s good stuff.”