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Men’s Basketball: UL’s Long, Payton shine in 75-60 win

Tim Buckley, Daily Advertiser, November 5, 2013

UL guard Elfrid Payton goes to the basket against William Carey in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ exhibition basketball game Monday. / Leslie Westbrook, The Advertiser

Louisiana College at UL Ragin’ Cajuns

When: 2 p.m., Saturday

Where: Cajundome
Records: Louisiana College 0-0. UL 0-0.

If Monday night’s first half was any indicator, things should be just fine for the UL basketball team when it opens its 2013-14 regular season Saturday against Louisiana College.

If Monday’s second half was any indicator, however, the Ragin Cajuns have a few things to work on between now and then.

And if the way Shawn Long and Elfrid Payton toiled together was any indicator, the two should have no trouble living up to their billing as preseason first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selections.

Big-man Long had a game-high 22 points, including six on alley-oops delivered by point Payton, in a 75-60 exhibition win over NAIA-member William Carey in front of 2,169 at the Cajundome.

Steven Wronkoski pulled down 11 rebounds and Kevin Brown and Kasey Shepherd added 10 points apiece for the Cajuns, who led 22-7 after eight minutes and 39-25 at halftime on a William Carey tied for 10th in the NAIA Division preseason national Top 25 poll.

“We played well early, got off to a quick start, shot the ball,” UL coach Bob Marlin said. “Then second half we came out and did not play with the energy that we needed to at times, and didn’t show they consistency that we need to play with at times.

“We had good ball movement on several possessions in the first half. In the second half we tried to hit the home run too many times.

“Besides getting out-rebounded by two (38-36), giving up too many offensive boards and also shooting poorly from the free-throw line (4-of-14),” he added, “I thought we had a good first trip to the court.”

That was especially the case for Long, who had eight boards to go with 22 points on 11-for-16 shooting from the field.

Marlin said Long had his best practice of the season on Sunday.

“It showed (Monday),” the Cajun coach said. “He carried it over in the game, shot the ball extremely well from the 2, rebounded the ball, ran the floor. He’s getting better. I’m pleased with his progress.

“Shawn and Elfrid (Payton, who had nine points and five assists) do a good job working together. They’ve got good chemistry. And it’s nice to know you can just throw it up, and the big fella can go get it. He had several nice ones tonight.”

One Payton-to-Long alley oop, in the first half, was the end result of great ball movement initiated by Brown. Another, in the second half, came after a Wronkoski rebound ignited a UL fastbreak.

“At this point we’ve gotten pretty much used to each other,” Long said of he and fellow UL starters Payton, Brown, Wronkoski and Elridge Moore. “It’s just (a matter of) working out the kinks.”

“We (he and Payton) click. … We’ve got some good chemistry,” Long added. “I think it’s only gonna get better, as long we work on it.”

LAGNIAPPE: UL’s first half ended with a 3-pointer by freshman Luka Kamber, who was inserted by Marlin for that very purpose. “It was a big boost going into halftime for us,” Marlin said. … Injured senior shooting guard Bryant Mbamalu (Jones fracture, foot) did not dress for the Cajuns. Marlin said Mbamalu won’t play in Saturday’s season-opener, and it could be at least another 2-to-3 weeks – perhaps longer – before he’s ready to play. … Doors to the Cajundome open at 5:30 for tonight’s Ragin’ Madness, a preseason fan event for the UL men’s and women’s basketball teams. Activities include autograph signings, scrimmages for both teams and on-court shooting contests. Admission is free. … Payton is the Cajun player pictured, along with one other from each member school, on this year’s Sun Belt Conference media guide.