LAFAYETTE — There’s a popular saying among members of the Louisiana-Lafayette men’s basketball team: On any given night, anybody can drive the bus.
That much has been especially true during the Ragin’ Cajuns’ six-game winning streak. The team knows it can count on a sterling performance from senior forward Shawn Long, who has been even better than usual lately, but he has had no shortage of help from his supporting cast during the streak.
“Everybody on this team can play,” senior guard Steve Wronkoski said. “Different nights, somebody’s got to step up. Different nights, it’s going to be different guys.”
On Saturday night against Texas-Arlington, it was Wronkoski, Jay Wright and Bryce Washington taking turns at the wheel. That trio combined for 40 points in the Cajuns’ 90-75 win.
On Thursday against Texas State, it was Devonta Walker pouring in 16 points in 17 minutes.
Against Troy, it was Washington with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
Against South Alabama, it was Kasey Shepherd with a career-high 27 points.
Against Georgia State it was Shepherd and Hayward Register knocking down nine 3-pointers between them.
Against Georgia Southern, it was Wronkoski chipping in his first double-digit scoring effort of the season.
“We’re spreading it around, and different guys are picking us up,” coach Bob Marlin said.
Depth and returning experience were two of the main factors in the Cajuns being tabbed as the preseason Sun Belt Conference favorite, and it’s starting to show.
Eleven players logged minutes Saturday against the Mavericks, and nine of them scored. At least nine players have scored in each of the Cajuns’ six consecutive wins.
“It certainly helps us. It helps us to know that guys can come in and contribute,” Marlin said. “We’re kind of settling into our roles with the guys; that’s one thing that’s helped us. We’ve got some guys that are ready to play, but it’s a hard time getting on the court because the guys in front of them are doing a really good job.”
Speaking of streaking
The Cajuns’ six-game winning streak is the longest in the SBC. The next longest belongs to Louisiana-Monroe, which will bring a four-game winning streak to Lafayette on Tuesday.
The Warhawks also have a three-game winning streak against the Cajuns, which they extended earlier this season with an 81-70 victory in Monroe.
“We are a totally different team than we were when we went to Monroe,” Marlin said.
The Cajuns shot a season-best 85.3 percent (29-of-34) at the free-throw line against UT-Arlington, continuing a strong recent trend.
The team has shot better than 72 percent from the free-throw line in five consecutive games. In the 14 games before that, they topped 72 percent just three times.
A big part of that success has been Long, who made all 10 of his attempts Saturday. In the past five games, Long has made 78.4 percent (29-for-37) of his free-throw attempts.
Before this hot streak, Long was shooting a career-low 64.3 percent from the line.