Cajuns encouraged by close calls on the road _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE UL-Lafayette's Elfrid Payton passes the ball around South Alabama's Antoine Allen.

DALLAS — After a season in which he was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year while becoming the school’s all-time leader in steals, Louisiana-Lafayette standout Elfrid Payton was named as the Lefty Driesell Defensive Player of the Year by on Friday.

Payton, who selected as a finalist for the award and was named to the Lefty Driesell Defensive All-America team on Monday, earned first-team All-Sun Belt Conference and NABC all-district honors for the Ragin’ Cajuns while guiding the team to the Sun Belt Conference championship and berth in the NCAA tournament.

The John Ehret High product led the Sun Belt Conference in steals for the second consecutive year, recording 80 and increasing his school-record total to 197. The 6-foot-3 Payton finished second on the team in rebounds (6.0) and was part of a defensive unit that led the Sun Belt Conference in rebounding margin and was second in steals.

Payton averaged 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game, scoring in double figures in 32 of 35 games played, including 14 games with 20 or more points and four 30-point performances.