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February 21, 2013

From the Hardwood - WKU

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Game basics

ULM (4-17, 3-12 SBC) begins its final road trip of the regular season with a visit to Western Kentucky (13-14, 7-9 SBC) on Thursday at 7 p.m. inside E.A. Diddle Arena. The Warhawks are coming off an 87-54 loss to Arkansas State on Saturday, following an 85-73 victory against North Texas on Thursday. Western Kentucky has dropped three straight, including an 87-82 loss at FIU on Saturday.

Thursday's contest can be heard locally on KLIP 105.3 FM in Monroe or online at ulmwarhawks.com, with Nick White calling the action. The game can also be seen on the Hilltopper Sports Network and ESPN3.com.



Arkansas State used big runs in both halves to handle ULM 87-54 on Saturday inside Fant-Ewing Coliseum. The Red Wolves shot 60 percent from the field and outscored the Warhawks 36-12 from the 3-point line and 21-12 at the free-throw line.

ASU pushed out to an early 24-3 lead, making six of its first seven attempts from 3-point range. The Warhawks responded with a 24-6 run to cut the lead to 30-27 with 3:58 remaining in the first half, but that is as close as they would get. ASU scored the final five points of the half, capped by a 3-pointer from Trey Finn in the final seconds, and the Red Wolves used a 19-1 run early in the second half to put the game away.

ULM had four turnovers at halftime and committed 14 in the second half. The Red Wolves took advantage, outscoring the Warhawks 34-10 off turnovers. The Warhawks did shoot 45.2 percent from the field, but took a season-low 42 shot attempts.

Junior Amos Olatayo led the Warhawks in scoring for the 10th time this season with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting. It marked the eighth time that Olatayo has scored 20 or more points in a game this season. Freshman Kyle Koszuta was the only other ULM player to score in double figures as he finished two points off his career-high with 13 points.

Junior Jayon James finished with eight points and 10 assists -- his second game this season with double-digit assists.


ULM ranks 11th in the Sun Belt in scoring offense with an average of 60.8 points per game. The Warhawks ranks second in the conference in field-goal percentage (.433), fourth in 3-point percentage (.354) and and 11th in free-throw percentage (.578). ULM also ranks second in the conference in assists per game (13.6), fifth in steals per game (7.3) and seventh in 3-point makes per game (6.0).

ULM has had a balanced scoring attack this season with six players averaging at least 6.2 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 Amos Olatayo leads the team and ranks third in the Sun Belt in scoring with 16.1 points in just 31.1 minutes per game. Olatayo has scored in double figures a team-leading 12 times and he has registered 20 or more points eight times this season. Olatayo ranks 13th in the Sun Belt in field-goal percentage (.476). The Alief, Texas, native is averaging 18.1 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 49.5 percent (90-of-182) from the field and 57.5 percent (42-of-73) from the free-throw line over ULM's last 13 games.

Junior Jayon James averages 9.9 points and leads the Sun Belt and ranks 41st nationally with 5.4 assists per game this season. James (6-6) is tied with Michael Carter-Williams as the tallest player in the country to average at least 5.0 assists per game. James also ranks 11th in the Sun Belt in rebounds per game (6.2), sixth in assist-turnover ratio (1.1) and tied for ninth in steals per game (1.4). He has recorded double-digit assists in two games this season, including a career-high 15 at FIU on Feb. 2. With 118 assists on the season, James needs 10 more assists to move into sole possession of 10th place on ULM's single-season list. 

Sophomore Trent Mackey leads the Sun Belt and ranks 16th nationally in 3-point percentage (.436). He also ranks third in the conference and 47th nationally with an average of 2.64 3-point makes per game. Mackey became just the 17th player in school history to reach 100 career 3-point makes on Saturday against Arkansas State. He is just 10 3-point makes shy of passing Anthony Jones for 10th place on ULM's single-season list and 22 makes away from moving into the top 10 on the school's career list.

Junior R.J. McCray has started 21 straight games at the point guard position for ULM and is averaging 7.6 points and 2.6 assists per game this season. McCray has scored in double-digits eight times this season after notching double figures just three times in his first two seasons with the Warhawks. McCray also has eight games with at least four assists this season.

Junior Millaun Brown has started in 20 of ULM's 22 games this season and is averaging 6.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Brown has scored in double-digits on four occasions this season, including a career-high 21 points last Thursday against North Texas. Brown leads the conference in field-goal percentage (.640) in Sun Belt 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 127th 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).



Junior Jayon James continues to climb the ULM single-season assists list as he is tied for14th place with 118 on the season.  The Paterson, N.J., native is just 10 assists away from passing Bob Carson for 10th in school history in single-season assists with at least five games remaining this season. James is on pace for 145 assists this season, which would put him alone in seventh place on the list.

      PLAYER               SEASON G    AVG ASSTS

5.   Keith Johnson       1991-92   29      5.1     149

6.   Larry Saulters        1968-69   21      7.0     147

7.   Jamie Mayo          1977-78   27      5.0     135

8.   Keith Johnson       1992-93   31      4.3     133

9.   Jamie Mayo          1978-79   29      4.5     130

10. Bob Carson          1970-71   22      5.8     127

T14.Jayon James       2012-13   22      5.4     118



Sophomore Trent Mackey has already solidified himself as one of the top 3-point shooters in the conference this season, and now he is closing in on one of the best seasons in school history. With 58 3-point makes this season, Mackey is alone in 19th place on ULM's single-season list. He needs 10 more 3s this season to pass Anthony Jones (1990-91) and move into the top 10.

Mackey is also closing in on the school's top 10 list for career 3-pointers in just two seasons. Mackey became the 17th player in school history to reach 100 career 3s on Saturday against Arkansas State. He is 22 3-point makes away from tying Brian Lubeck (1999-02) for 10th place on ULM's career list.



After winning its first four games in Sun Belt play this season, Western Kentucky has slipped to a 3-9 record since, including three straight losses. The Hilltoppers are coming off an 87-82 loss at FIU on Saturday. The Hilltoppers rank eighth in the Sun Belt in scoring offense (66.3 ppg) and third in the conference in scoring defense (66.1 ppg). WKU is shooting 42 percent from the field, 30.1 percent from 3-point range and 66.4 percent from the free-throw line.

T.J. Price leads the Hilltoppers and ranks eighth in the Sun Belt in scoring with 14.3 points per game. Price is shooting 39.1 percent from the field, 34.9 percent from 3-point range and 67.7 percent from the free-throw line this season. Jamal Crook averages 12.8 points and a team-high 4.2 assists per game and George Fant chips in 12.5 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds 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 15-10 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.

ULM is 1-8 all-time against Western Kentucky and 0-3 against the Hilltoppers in Bowling Green. The Hilltoppers have won four straight in the series, including a 65-54 victory in Monroe earlier this season. ULM's last trip to Bowling Green ended in an 81-61 loss to WKU back on Feb. 5, 2011.



ULM shot 33.3 percent in the second half and scored three points in the final five minutes as Western Kentucky pulled away for a 65-54 victory in the conference opener for both schools. The Hilltoppers shot 50 percent in the second half and finished the game shooting 46 percent.

Leading 55-51 with five minutes remaining, Western Kentucky outscored ULM 10-3 down the stretch to pull away. The Warhawks' largest lead of the second half was 39-35 on a dunk from Amos Olatayo with 15:18 remaining.

Olatayo led the Warhawks with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Olatayo also made a career-best three 3-pointers. Millaun Brown contributed 11 points, six rebounds and a block in 34 minutes of action. 

Western Kentucky's T.J. Price was the only Hilltopper to score in double figures as he totaled 30 points to go along with six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Price finished 10 of 19 from the field, including 5 of 11 from 3-point range.

The Warhawks finished with 13 assists, paced by Jayon James with six and R.J. McCray with four.



ULM wraps up its road schedule at Middle Tennessee on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. inside Murphy Center.


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