RUSTON — Brandon Gibson scored 20 points, Raheem Appleby added 15 and No. 25 Louisiana Tech cruised to an 84-61 victory over Utah State on Thursday night in its first game as a nationally ranked team since 1985.

Louisiana Tech (25-3, 15-0 Western Athletic Conference) never left anything in doubt, taking a 15-2 lead in the opening minutes on the way to a 49-23 halftime advantage. It was a surprisingly lopsided game considering the Bulldogs beat Utah State (19-8, 9-6) 51-48 in Logan, Utah, on Jan. 26.

Louisiana Tech used its constant full-court press and deep bench to frustrate the Aggies. The Bulldogs are on a 17-game winning streak that has lasted more than two months.

Jarred Shaw and Ben Clifford both scored 14 points for Utah State. TeNale Roland added 12 points and seven rebounds.

Gibson made 8 of 11 shots from the field, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range, to lead a potent Louisiana Tech bench. The Bulldogs’ bench outscored the starters 49-35.

Just about everyone was making shots. The Bulldogs cooled off late, but still shot 31 of 62 (50 percent) from the field, including 11 of 21 (52.4 percent) from 3-point range.

Louisiana Tech jumped into the Top 25 on Monday for the first time in nearly 28 years. The Bulldogs enjoyed a 13-week run in the national rankings while former Utah Jazz star Karl Malone was dominating the Southland Conference on the way to a run to the NCAA round of 16 during 1984-85.

Utah State was Louisiana Tech’s first Division I opponent in nearly two weeks and the Bulldogs looked fresh, using their full-court press to frustrate the Aggies early. A few turnovers were all the Bulldogs needed to build an early advantage — especially since almost all of their shots were falling.

Louisiana Tech shot 20 of 35 (57.9 percent) in the first half. Gibson led the Bulldogs with 12 points off the bench.

Nicholls State 56, Sam Houston State 53: In Huntsville, Texas, Dantrell Thomas scored 22 points, including seven in the final minute, as Nicholls State defeated Sam Houston State.

The Colonels (8-18, 7-8 Southland) trailed 51-49 before Thomas connected on a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left. After a missed shot on the other end, Sam Houston State (14-14, 7-8) was forced to foul and Thomas hit four straight free throws in the final 15 seconds to secure the victory.

Fred Hunter added 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Colonels, who overcame 18 turnovers by shooting 49 percent from the field.

James Thomas led Sam Houston State with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Bearkats shot just 35 percent, including 4 for 15 on 3-point attempts, en route to their third straight loss.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Keke Veal scored a career-high 25 points but it was not enough as UALR rallied from a seven-point first half deficit to claim a 48-41 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette Thursday evening in Jack Stephens Center.

The loss drops the Cajuns to 9-19 on the year and 3-16 in league play while UALR improves to 21-7 overall and 13-6 in conference.

Shanity James led UALR with 11 points and 15 rebounds.

SLU 72, TEXAS A&M-CC 68: In Corpus Christi, Texas, Southeastern Louisiana guard Elizabeth Styles led four Lady Lions in double figures with 18 points, as the Lady Lions picked up a Southland Conference victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Styles and Erica Hernandez (season-high 12 points) each shot 4-for-6 from 3-point range.

Sam HOUSTON STATE 74, NICHOLLS STATE 60: In Huntsville, Texas, Nicholls State fell behind early, trailing by as much as 18 in the first half and never came closer than eight the rest of the way.

Jasmine Scott led Nicholls (16-10, 8-7) off the bench, scoring 14 points and coming up a rebound shy of a double-double for the second straight game.

Former St. Michael standout KK Babin contributed 12 points and matched her season-high with nine assists.

ULM 74, FIU 63: In Monroe, ULM (8-20, 6-13) collected its most comfortable win of Sun Belt season over FIU (17-11, 11-8).

ULM’s Ashleigh Simmons had 17 points and 11 rebounds.

McNEESE STATE 76, oRAL rOBERTS 71:In Lake Charles, McNeese State picked up a Southland Conference win over league-leading Oral Roberts to improve to 15-11, 10-5 in conference play.

Ashlyn Baggett led all players with a game high 26 points for McNeese.