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Men's Basketball: Louisiana Drops SBC Finale at Arkansas State, 83-77

Russell's season-high 30 points not enough as Ragin' Cajuns drop second straight

JONESBORO, Ark. – Marquis Eaton scored 15 points to lead five players in double figures and Arkansas State held off a late Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns rally to claim an 83-77 victory in a Sun Belt Conference men's basketball game on Saturday at First National Bank Arena.
 
Freshman Norchad Omier posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds as Arkansas State (6-9, 5-5 Sun Belt) sank 11 3-pointers for the second straight game. Cedric Russell led Louisiana (13-6, 7-5 Sun Belt) with a season-high 30 points, including 5-for-9 from behind the 3-point line.
 
Louisiana held a 14-9 lead when Russell scored on a layup with 14:36 remaining in the first half before the Red Wolves would rally to take the lead. A pair of dunks by Omier and a 3-pointer by Avery Felts gave Arkansas State a 16-14 lead with 12:12 remaining, and after a free throw by Russell to cut the score to 16-15 scored the next eight points as Felts hit back-to-back 3-pointers and added a layup for a 24-15 lead with 9:35 remaining in the half.
 
A pair of free throws by Theo Akwuba cut Louisiana's deficit to 33-27 with 5:35 remaining in the half, but the Ragin' Cajuns would go scoreless for the next three-plus minutes as 3-pointers by Malcolm Farrington and Christian Willis and a putback by Omier would push Arkansas State's lead to 41-27 with 2:17 left in the half.
 
Louisiana would get the deficit to below double digits (73-65) with 4:11 remaining on a pair of free throws by Dou Gueye and a 3-pointer by Kentrell Garnett would get the Ragin' Cajuns to within 77-72 with 2:07 left before a bucket by Omier and four free throws down the stretch preserved the win for the Red Wolves.
 
Russell finished 11-for-19 from the floor and reached the 30-point mark for the second time in his Ragin' Cajuns career and his first since a career-high 34 at Little Rock on March 7, 2019. Mylik Wilson added 12 points, six rebounds and three steals for Louisiana while Akwuba scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked a pair of shots.
 
Louisiana went 27-for-62 (43.5 percent) from the floor, 7-for-20 (35.0 percent) from behind the 3-point line and was 16-for-18 (88.9 percent) from the free throw line. The Ragin' Cajuns held a 36-30 advantage on the glass with Gueye pulling down a team-high eight boards.
 
Felts scored 13 points off the bench for Arkansas State, which finished 27-for-56 (48.2 percent) from the floor, 11-for-19 (57.9 percent) from the 3-point line and 18-for-20 (90.0 percent) from the charity stripe.
 
Louisiana will return to action on Thursday when it plays host to in-state foe ULM in a 7 p.m. contest. The game, which will be the nightcap of a doubleheader that begins at 3 p.m., with the women's game between Louisiana and ULM, will be available on ESPN� and will be broadcast in the Lafayette area on KPEL 96.5 FM.
 
Season-ticket holders can download their tickets through mobile ticketing from Ticketmaster. Fans can download the #GeauxCajuns app to their smart phone to begin the process. Season-ticket holders who are unable to download tickets or wish to have printed can visit the Louisiana Athletics Ticket Office at the Cajundome to have them printed.
 
For more information on Men's Basketball tickets, fans can call the Louisiana Athletics Ticket Office at (337) 265-2170.
 
The Cajundome will operate at a significantly reduced capacity for the 2020-21 season (unless state COVID-19 policy changes during the season). This will allow for fans and University students to be accommodated this season. The Department of Athletics will quickly communicate any schedule adjustments or changes to attendance protocols through its social media channels and RaginCajuns.com.
 
In the interest of public safety and following the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) Best Practices Guide, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Athletics Department is implementing a clear bag policy at all venues that host ticketed events effective with the 2020-21 competition season. Information about the clear bag policy can be found by visiting www.RaginCajuns.com/clearbag.