The Cajuns and Trojans Helped ME Make College Basketball History – From the Bird’s Nest
Thursday night’s game between Louisiana and Arkansas-Little Rock was one for the record books. But I don’t think anyone keeps these kind of records. More on that in a bit.
If you are a college basketball fan and didn’t enjoy the heck out of last night’s game, shame on you. Now, it wasn’t perfect by any stretch. But boy, it was fun.
Officiating notwithstanding, we saw some very good talent…some clutch playing…a tough injury…a gutty performance…and two very good coaches (who happen to be close friends) play a game that was tantamount to a chess match.
"That’s when in this game of chess, Cajuns’ senior Bryant Mbamalu played like a king."The Ragin’ Cajuns wound up winning the game, 93-85 in double overtime. Louisiana led the game by as many as nineteen points in the first half as the Cajuns executed Marlin’s game plan. When Shawn Long went to the bench with two fouls in three minutes, Marlin made an adjustment that got UALR on its heels. But Shields countered to cut the lead to 12 at halftime and then made more adjustments in the locker room. Defensively, the Trojans played a lot of zone which made it difficult for the Cajuns to penetrate and get to the rim. UALR forced three shot clock violations. They rotated all five players in tight and dared the Cajuns to shoot it from the outside.
Marlin countered by making an adjustment which allowed Payton the opportunity to penetrate, thinking more often than not, he’d get fouled. And, that worked well enough, even though Payton only hit 7-14 free throws.
UALR was able to stay in the game despite missing leading scorer Will Neighbour and senior Leroy Isler. The Trojans also lost Montreal native Keme Osse who tore a patella tendon in the first half.
Josh Hagins and Payton dueled in the second half. Payton blocked several of Hagins’ shots, and held the sophomore from Bossier City to just 8-24 shooting. But Hagins made several clutch baskets, and hit two free throws in the final seconds of the first overtime to set up the second extra period.
That’s when in this game of chess, Cajuns’ senior Bryant Mbamalu played like a king.
The Houston native, who missed the first twelve games of the season with an injury, scored seven points, grabbed three rebounds and nabbed a steal…all in the final five minutes. The catalyst was an offensive rebound on a shot that did not hit the rim and a putback with :01 on the shot clock which gave the Cajuns the lead for good.
The Cajuns missed 15 free throws in the game. Yet they shot 68.8% because they shot
"And, that’s where I get into the history books."48 free throws. The Trojans were whistled for 31 fouls. UALR, already missing four scholarship players (including J. T. Thomas who did not make the trip) had five players foul out of the game.
Steve Shields, with ten seconds left, had no one to put in the game. And, the Trojans played those ten seconds with only four players.
And, that’s where I get into the history books.
I have called play by play when a team had six players on the court at the end of the game (WKU two years ago) and four on the court (last night.) I’m thinking there may not be another Division I broadcaster who has experienced that.
After all these years, I’m finally famous.