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Men’s Basketball: Marlin – Cajuns one 3-pointer away from aiming for SBC title

Kevin Foote, Morning Advocate, kfoote@theadvocate.com  Feb. 26, 2019

Prior to hosting preseason Sun Belt favorite Georgia State on national TV on Feb. 8, things appeared to be heading south for the UL Ragin’ Cajuns.

Coach Bob Marlin’s club had just lost three straight games to fall to 4-6 in league play and was giving up 101 points per game in that three-game skid.

Boy, has the outlook changed four games later.

UL’s basketball men’s basketball squad picked a good time for one of its best road performances of the season Thursday.

One more 3-point shot in San Marcos, Texas on Saturday — just one more as Marlin repeated in Monday’s weekly press luncheon — and he would have been discussing UL’s chances at a second straight regular season Sun Belt championship with four games remaining.

As it turned out, the Cajuns’ winning streak ended at three with a 64-62 loss at league-leading Texas State to drop UL back into a three-way tie for fifth at 7-7.

“We were disappointed because we felt like we could win the league if we win that game,” said Marlin, whose team returns to action Thursday against Coastal Carolina in the Cajundome. “We were right in position.”

Indeed, UL theoretically would have been just one game back in the loss column with four games left had it gone 7-for-24 beyond the arc.

“We were disappointed that we didn’t come through in Texas and get the sweep,” said Marlin, referring to beating UTA 76-64 on Thursday. “We always play well in Texas and we did in these two games for the majority of the time.

“We just needed one more to win and felt short.”

In Thursday’s win, the junior perimeter tandem of Jerekius Davis, P.J. Hardy and Justin Miller made 10 of 17 tries on 3-pointers. In Saturday’s loss, that trio combined to make one of 10 behind the arc.

UL’s basketball men’s basketball squad picked a good time for one of its best road performances of the season Thursday.

The scenarios remain seemingly limitless with six teams now within two games of each other between second and seventh place with a goal of wanting to at least finish in the top six to avoid the on-campus, play-in round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

“There’s so many different scenarios,” Marlin said. “We dissected them on the bus Friday and dissected them on the bus Saturday after the game.”

The Cajuns — 16-11 overall and 7-7 in league play — are now embroiled in a three-way tie for fifth with UL-Monroe and Coastal Carolina at 7-7, one spot behind fourth-place UTA at 9-6.

“We still can push and get third or fourth,” he said. “This could turn into a possible three-way tie with us, Arlington and Monroe (for fourth place), which we would win that tiebreaker.”

In the big picture, Marlin is hoping a good finish can help the Cajuns finish in the top four in the regular season for the seventh time in the past nine seasons.

“We just have to keep fighting and see what we can do,” Marlin said. “We feel like we can still get second, third or fourth.”

In the new Sun Belt Tournament format, the No. 7 seed will host No. 10 and No. 8 will host the No. 9 seed in the opening round on Tuesday, March 12.

Two days later, the No. 5 seed would meet the 8-9 winner in New Orleans, while the No. 6 seed would meet the 7-10 winner at 7:30 on Thursday, March 14.

The three and four seeds, meanwhile, wouldn’t play until Friday and the top two seeds wouldn’t start until Saturday.

“But it (upset of Texas State) didn’t happen and how we have to regroup and focus on the Carolinas this week,” Marlin said.

Either way, it’s a long way from being 4-6 and worrying about qualifying for New Orleans.

Athletic Network Footnote by Dr. Ed Dugas.
Please note that Kevin Foote now reports for the Acadiana Morning Advocate. Follow Kevin Foote on Twitter, @FooteNote