LAFAYETTE — After playing six of the last seven games on the road, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette men’s basketball team returns to the Cajundome on Saturday night against Houston.
The Cajuns intertwined practices with final examinations this past week, but the basketball test against Houston beginning with a 7:05 p.m. tip-off will be handling a team that doesn’t commit many turnovers.
Houston (7-4) averages only nine turnovers per game, while playing a fundamentally sound game.
“They like to keep it simple,” Cajuns coach Bob Marlin said. “(L.J. Rose) is a real good point guard. I know they can score a lot of points.”
The teams met in Houston last season and the Cajuns took a 85-63 loss.
“I think this should really be a good game for us,” Marlin said. “There’s always a connection between Houston and Lafayette. We play three of the next four at home, so we are happy about that.”
The Cajuns (6-3) haven’t played since losing at No. 16 Louisville 113-74 last Saturday. UL-Lafayette trailed by seven at halftime, but Louisville outscored the Cajuns by 32 the remainder of the game.
The Cajuns turned the ball over 17 times against Louisville, but Marlin wasn’t totally discouraged by that statistic because Louisville leads the nation in turnover margin.
“We’ve won three of our last four on the road and four of the last five overall, so I feel we are about where we need to be at this point,” Marlin said.
Houston, coached by former Texas Tech coach and Oklahoma State assistant James Dickey, outrebounded Alcorn State 40-26 in an 89-58 victory Monday night. Marlin said he’s looking for more inside help, especially against a Cougars’ starting lineup that features forwards Tashawn Thomas (6-foot-8, 240 pounds) and J.J. Richardson (6-8, 255).
UL-Lafayette forward Shawn Long (6-9) is the main inside presence for the Cajuns (20.7 points, 10.9 rebounds), but none of the Cajuns’ other projected starters are taller than 6-5.
Long has been bothered by several minor injuries this season and will matched up with Thomas, who scored 19 and had nine rebounds against Alcorn.
Thomas and Richardson were a combined 13-of-15 from the field.
The Cajuns are expected to start Elfrid Payton (19.0 points, 6.1 rounds), Kevin Brown (6.3 points) and Steven Wronkowski (6.4) in the backcourt against the Cougars.
Brown is a Houston native who played at Alef Elsik High School.
Former UL-Lafayette basketball standout Jerry Flake will be honored at halftime when his No. 20 jersey will be retired. Flake played for the late Beryl Shipley from 1965-69. ... Payton will be honored for his participation this past summer on the USA Basketball Team that finished undefeated and won a gold medal in international competition.