NEW ORLEANS (SunBeltSports.org) - Arkansas State and UL-Lafayette's 5-2 non-conference records lead the Sun Belt after four weeks of the season.
The 5-2 record for the Red Wolves this season represents the Red Wolves' best start since the 2008-09 season when A-State won six of its first seven contests in head coach John Brady's first season.
The Red Wolves have scored over 85 points in their last three contests while compiling a 3-0 ledger. A-State is averaging 93.3 points per game (280 pts.) during that span with victories over Central Arkansas (99-56), at Lamar (95-89), and against Niagara (86-61). The last time A-State tallied a combined 280 or more points during a three-game period was in 2002-03 when the Red Wolves amassed a 287 points total in three consecutive wins.
For UL-Lafayette, the Ragin' Cajuns return to the court this week,traveling north to Ruston to face Louisiana Tech on Wednesday, Dec. 4 beginning at 6:30 p.m. CST in the Thomas Assembly Center. The Cajuns (5-2) carry a three-game win streak into the contest after toppling 2013 NCAA Tournament participant Northwestern State, 105-74, on Nov. 27 in the Cajundome. Sophomore Shawn Long picked right up where he left off last spring, registering double-doubles in four of the first seven games to rank 14th nationally. He enters the Louisiana Tech game leading the Sun Belt in both rebounding (11.6) and offensive rebounding (7.1), ranked second in blocks (3.1) and offensive rebounds (4.4), third in scoring (20.3) and fifth in field goal percentage (.585).
Elsewhere, UL-Monroe's 2-1 record is its best after three games since 2006-07 when the Warhawks went on to win the SBC West Division. ULM will look to reach the 3-1 mark for the first time since 2004-05 when it started 4-1.
Texas State won its first two games of the season, claiming the runner-up trophy at the Cure UCD Classic in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The Bobcats beat Tulane 70-52 before beating Northern Kentucky 70-61. The Bobcats held Tulane to just 40 field goal attempts on Friday. That is the fewest attempts by a Texas State opponent since Dec. 1, 2009 when the team faced Texas A&M International. Texas State held three straight opponents to 61 points or fewer last week. The last time the team has accomplished that feat is Feb. 2-9, 2011 as the Bobcats went 3-0 during that stretch.
Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week
Melvin Johnson III (Arkansas State, Sr., Guard)
Johnson III registered a game and season-high 26 points in Arkansas State's 95-89 win at Lamar last Saturday (Nov. 30), highlighted by an 8-9 performance from three-point field goal range. Johnson III connected on his first eight three pointers in contest and finished 9-of-12 (75.0%) from the floor in 27 minutes of playing time. His eight three-point field goals were one shy of tying an A-State single-game record. Johnson III pulled down a game-leading 10 rebounds in the Red Wolves' 86-61 home victory over Niagara Monday (Dec. 2) to go along with seven points, two assists, and one blocked shot as A-State held the nation's leading scorer (Antoine Mason) to 20 points, which was 11.6 points below his 2013-14 season average. The 6-6 guard, who currently leads Arkansas State in scoring with a 17.9 ppg. average (125 pts.), had compiled double-figure points in his initial six outings this campaign. Nationally, Johnson III ranked second in both three-point field goals made per game (4.33 avg.) and three-point field goal percentage (65.0%) prior to the Niagara matchup.
Bowling Green 74, WKU 62
Troy 73, Alcorn State 70 (2OT)
Arkansas State 86, Niagara 61
South Alabama 91, Spring Hill 41
Southeast Missouri 82, Texas State 74
Middle Tennessee 65, South Alabama 55
Texas State 70, Northern Kentucky 61
FIU 61, Georgia State 60
WKU 68, Eastern Illinois 53
Arkansas State 95, Lamar 89
WKU 68, Eastern Illinois 53