LAFAYETTE — For those on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette men’s basketball team, it’s no coincidence that the team is riding a four-game winning streak at the same time point guard Jay Wright it starting to discover his game.
“Jay is our leader,” guard Kasey Shepherd said. “He’s our point guard, he’s our floor general. Whatever he does, he sets the tone for us. He comes out hard, he plays defense, he attacks, and we feed off that.”
Wright was in attack mode right from the beginning of the Cajuns’ 68-58 win against Georgia Southern on Saturday, scoring the first five points of the game on the way to a game-high 20 points.
It’s the latest in a series of excellent offensive performances for Wright, who has turned around his offensive game at a critical stretch of the season.
In his past four games, all Cajuns wins, Wright has made 23 of 44 shots (52.2 percent), scoring 16 points per game and averaging five points and five assists.
In the 10 games before that four-game hot streak, a stretch in which the Cajuns went 3-7, Wright made just 21 of 71 attempts from the floor (29.6 percent), averaging just 6.6 points per game.
The Eagles came into Saturday’s game allowing just 30.1 percent from the 3-point line this season, but the Cajuns frequently got loose and knocked down their shots from deep.
The Cajuns knocked down six 3-pointers in each half, shooting 12-of-24 for the game. It matched the most made against Georgia Southern this season.
Wright and Hayward Register were the main reasons, knocking down four 3-pointers apiece. It matched a career-high in made 3-pointers for Wright, who also drew a foul on a 3-point attempt that sent him to the line for three free throws.
Register has attempted 110 of his 129 shots this season from behind the arc. After Saturday’s performance, Register is shooting better than 40 percent from deep.
Second chances, turnovers
The Cajuns beat Georgia Southern in just about every statistical category Saturday, but the Eagles hung in there thanks to dominating the Cajuns in second-chance points and points off turnovers.
The Cajuns turned the ball over 18 times, which is their worst total since a December loss to Northwestern State. The Eagles took advantage, scoring 22 points off turnovers to the Cajuns’ nine.
Georgia Southern also pulled down 14 offensive rebounds, leading to a 23-9 advantage in second-chance points. Fifteen of those came in the second half, when the Eagles were consistently pulling down offensive rebounds off their own 3-point misses.
The Cajuns have led the conference in virtually every rebounding statistic all season, but couldn’t get a handle on a lot of long rebounds.
“We had our hands on a couple of those, but we didn’t come up with them,” Cajuns coach Bob Marlin said.
Where they stand
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Cajuns are in control of a top-four seed in the Sun Belt tournament and can potentially rise as high as the No. 3 seed.
Both UL-Monroe and Georgia Southern lost Saturday while Georgia State won, meaning there is a three-way tie at the top of the conference. The Cajuns are two games back.
Georgia State’s two remaining games are against ULM and Georgia Southern, giving the Panthers the best but most-challenging chance at winning the conference outright.
ULM, which lost by 23 points on the road to Appalachian State (10-17), wraps up its season against Texas State. Georgia Southern will host fifth-place UT-Arlington before traveling to Atlanta to face rival Georgia State.