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March 8, 2013

From the Hardwood - Tournament Edition

From the Hardwood - Tournament Edition

Game basics

No. 11 seed ULM (4-22, 3-17 SBC) opens play at the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament against No. 6 seed Western Kentucky on Friday at 6 p.m. CT inside Summit Arena. Western Kentucky swept the season series against ULM with a 65-54 victory in Monroe on Nov. 29 and a 75-57 win in Bowling Green, Ky. on Feb. 21. The Warhawks are 2-5 all-time in the SBC Tournament and 0-1 against Western Kentucky in postseason play.


ULM dropped its regular season finale 71-63 at home against UL-Lafayette on Saturday.

The Warhawks trailed 34-26 at halftime and by as many as 14 points in the second half before rallying within four points with just less than two minutes to play. ULM shot 39.6 percent from the field and converted just 16 of 27 attempts from the free-throw line.

All five ULM starters played at least 31 minutes, including a career-high 34 minutes from freshman Kyle Koszuta. Koszuta finished with seven points, three rebounds and two assists. 

Junior Amos Olatayo led the Warhawks with 21 points on 6-of-14 shooting and a career-best nine made free throws. Olatayo added eight rebounds, four assists, a block and four steals in 39 minutes of action. It marked his ninth game with 20 or more points this season.

Junior Jayon James and sophomore Trent Mackey each contributed 12 points for the Warhawks. James added nine rebounds, four assists and a career-high three blocked shots.



ULM ranks second in the Sun Belt in assists per game (13.4), behind only conference-leading Middle Tennessee. The Warhawks also rank fifth in the conference in field-goal percentage (.427), third in 3-point percentage (.348), third in rebounding defense (34.8), fifth in steals per game (7.0) and seventh in 3-pointers per game (6.0).



Junior Amos Olatayo finished the regular season ranked third in the Sun Belt in scoring with an average of 16.1 points per game. It's the highest scoring average by a ULM player at the end of the regular season since the 2002-03 season when Kirby Lemons averaged 16.7 points per game. The Alief, Texas, native upped his scoring average to 17.0 points per game in conference play.

Olatayo has scored in double-digits in 16 of the 22 games he has played in this season and has led the Warhawks in scoring on 13 occasions. He also has nine games with at least 20 points, including a career-high 30 points at FIU on Feb. 2.

In addition to being one of top scorers in the league, Olatayo also ranks 15th in the Sun Belt in rebounds per game (5.8), 12th in field-goal percentage (.466) and eighth in steals per game (1.5).



Junior Jayon James continues to put up record assist numbers for the Warhawks this season. The Paterson, N.J., native ranks second in the Sun Belt and 62nd nationally in assists per game (5.0) and currently sits alone in ninth place on ULM's single-season list with 131.

James needs two more assists this season to tie Keith Johnson (1992-93) for eighth place and four more assists to tie Jamie Mayo (1977-78) for seventh place on ULM's single-season list.

James has led the Warhawks in assists in 19 of ULM's 26 games this season. He has two games with double-digit assists, including a career-high 15 at FIU on Feb. 2 (best in the Sun Belt this season).



Sophomore Trent Mackey has been one of the top 3-point marksmen in the country this season. Mackey ranks second in the Sun Belt and 16th nationally in 3-point percentage (.439) and third in the conference and 51st nationally with 2.62 3-point makes per game.

Mackey moved into sole possession of 10th place on ULM's single-season 3-pointers list with makes No. 67 and 68 of the season on Saturday against UL-Lafayette. Mackey needs four more makes to tie Nick Coln (2001-02) for ninth place. The Tampa, Fla., native became just the 17th player in school history to make 100 career 3-pointers and he is just 12 makes shy of tying Brian Lubeck for 10th place on ULM's career 3-pointers list.



ULM has had a balanced scoring attack this season with six players averaging at least 5.9 points per game. Eight different ULM players have scored in double-digits at least once this season and four different players have registered at least 20 points in a game.

Junior R.J. McCray had his string of 24 straight starts at the point guard position snapped on Saturday's regular-season finale against UL-Lafayette. Mackey is averaging 7.1 points and 2.4 assists per game and has scored in double-digits eight times this season. Mackey notched double figures in points just three times in his first two seasons with the Warhawks. He also has eight games with at least four assists this season. 

Junior Millaun Brown has started in 24 of ULM's 26 games this season (only James has started more games). Brown is averaging 5.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in his first season with the Warhawks. Brown has scored in double-digits on four occasions this season, including a career-high 21 points against North Texas on Feb. 14. Brown pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds against Western Kentucky on Feb. 21.

Freshman Kyle Koszuta made his first career start on Saturday against UL-Lafayette, scoring seven points and dishing out two assists in a career-high 34 minutes of action. Koszuta ranks third on the team with 20 3-point makes and third in assists (44).

Junior Marcelis Hansberry has missed the Warhawks' last eight games following a season-ending injury at FIU on Feb. 2. Hansberry ranks fourth on the team in scoring (7.5 ppg) and has the seventh best field-goal percentage (.493) in the Sun Belt in conference games only.

The Warhawks do not have a regular starter back from last season and returned just 28 percent of their scoring and 24 percent of their rebounding from a season ago.


Jayon James ranks sixth in the Sun Belt and 152nd nationally with five double-doubles this season. He is the only ULM player to record a double-double this season.

James' five double-doubles have come against Southeastern Louisiana (10 pts and 12 rbs), Southern (11 pts and 11 rbs), Florida Atlantic (26 pts and 10 rbs), North Texas (19 pts and 10 rbs) and FIU (11 pts and 15 assts).



Western Kentucky won three of its final four games of the regular season to earn the No. 6 seed at this week's Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The Hilltoppers had won three straight games before dropping a 70-62 decision at home to Sun Belt champion Middle Tennessee last Saturday. The Hilltoppers ranks sixth in the Sun Belt in scoring offense (67.5 ppg) and fourth in scoring defense (66.5 ppg). WKU is shooting 42.7 percent from the field, 31.6 percent from 3-point range and 67.3 percent from the free-throw line this season.

T.J. Price leads the Hilltoppers and ranks eighth in the Sun Belt in scoring with 14.9 points per game. Price is shooting 39.4 percent from the field, 36.2 percent from 3-point range and 68.5 percent from the free-throw line on the season. George Fant adds 12.8 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game and Jamal Crook chips in 12.7 points and a team-leading 4.4 assists per game. 

Ray Harper is in his first full season as the head coach of the Hilltoppers after taking over in the middle of last season and guiding WKU to the Sun Belt Tournament championship and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Western Kentucky has gone 27-23 since Harper took over as head coach. Harper also has head-coaching stops at NAIA Oklahoma City (2006-08) and NCAA Division II Kentucky Wesleyan (1997-2005), where he combined to win four national championships.


The Warhawks are 40-23 all-time in conference tournament play with eight titles dating back to 1979. ULM won six tournament titles as a member of the Southland Conference (1986, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996) and two tournament titles as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference (1979, 1982).

ULM is 2-5 all-time in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament with a pair of trips to the quarterfinals. The Warhawks have never won more than one game in five previous trips to the tournament. Five of ULM's seven SBC Tournament games have been decided by nine points or less.

ULM is a1-9 all-time against Western Kentucky and 0-2 against the Hilltoppers this season. WKU picked up a 65-54 victory over ULM in the conference opener back on Nov. 29 in Monroe. The Hilltoppers completed the regular season sweep with a 75-57 victory in Bowling Green on Feb. 21. The Warhawks and Hilltoppers have met once previously in postseason play -- a 66-50 WKU victory in the first round of the 2011 SBC Tournament.


Western Kentucky built an early double-digit advantage and cruised to a 75-57 victory over ULM on Feb. 21 inside E.A. Diddle Arena. The Hilltoppers shot 49.1 percent from the field and limited the Warhawks to 36.4 percent shooting.

WKU led 34-22 at halftime and shot 60.9 percent in the second half to thwart any chance of a ULM comeback. The Warhawks cut the lead to 11 on several occasions in the second half before the Hilltoppers used a late 12-2 run to seal the victory -- their fifth straight in the series.

The Hilltoppers won the battle on the boards (43-28) and outscored the Warhawks 32-18 in the paint and 24-8 off the bench. 

Amos Olatayo led the Warhawks in scoring with 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Olatayo also made 2-of-3 attempts from 3-point range and added six rebounds and two steals. Trent Mackey converted 4-of-9 from 3-point range for 13 points while Jayon James finished with 11 points, two assists and a block.

George Fant and T.J. Price each scored 15 points to lead four Hilltoppers in double-digit scoring.  



The winner of the ULM-Western Kentucky game will advance to the SBC quarterfinals to take on No. 3 seed South Alabama on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. 



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