Bracey, Jean pace LA Tech in 82-68 victory over Prairie View
RUSTON – On Dec. 4, 1982, Bulldog legend Karl Malone played in the first ever game inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
Thirty-six years later to the day, the Louisiana Tech men’s basketball team was able to get a victory in the TAC on Karl Malone Court, topping Prairie View A&M by a final score of 82-68.
LA Tech (6-3) needed to take care of the basketball in order to do that. And they did, winning the turnover margin by seven with only 13 giveaways. Two of the key plays in that was the backcourt duo of junior DaQuan Bracey and senior Derric Jean who had only two combined turnovers and four steals.
That tandem was also equally as impressive on the offensive end, combining for 39 points while connecting on nine made shots from beyond the arc.
“I thought we took care of the basketball pretty well, especially in the first half with only having three turnovers,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “Prairie View A&M has been a team that turns people over an awful lot. We didn’t get off to a good start making shots, but once we settled in and let our defense help us play offense, it gave us an opportunity to build a lead even though we knew Prairie View was not going to go away. We were able to keep them at bay just enough and make enough plays to come out with a win.”
Despite the victory, it was Prairie View A&M (1-8) that got off the hot start. The Panthers went on a 9-0 to build a 13-4 lead with 13:03 to go in the first half, forcing a timeout by coach Konkol.
One of the reasons for the slow start for the Bulldogs was perimeter shooting. They missed on their first seven three-point attempts. It was not until Bracey drilled the first of his three triples eight minutes into the game that the team made its first.
All of sudden, everyone for the ‘Dogs was hitting three-pointers. The team ended up hitting their next seven attempts from deep, including three from Jean, to build a 35-20 advantage with 4:28 left to go in the first half.
LA Tech had runs of 14-0 and 16-0 during the first half, ultimately holding the Panthers to just 12 total points after they built their early nine-point lead which ended up as a 39-25 edge for the home team at the halfway point.
Bracey and Jean went back-to-back on threes early in the second stanza to give the Bulldogs their largest lead of the contest at 45-27 with 18:03 to go in the game. With LA Tech still holding on to a 17-point advantage with 16:33 remaining, that was when Prairie View made its run.
The Panthers made 7 of their next 10 shot attempts to help put together a 17-3 run over the next three-plus minutes and make it a one possession game at 53-50.
Just when it appeared as though Prairie View A&M was going to tie or take the lead, it was Bracey coming up with a big three-point play or Jean getting a key stop on defensive by taking a charge or diving on the floor for a loose ball.
“I thought those two were both sensational tonight,” Konkol said. “DayDay with his penetration. He got it going from the three as well. He had really good command of the ball. Then Derric Jean on both sides. [Gary] Blackston was their leading scorer and ended up with his one of his lower outputs from a scoring perspective. And then Derric made five threes. I am really proud of him for the way he has been fighting and getting better and better after missing most of the offseason. Both of those guys were big for us tonight.”
With the score 66-60 in favor of LA Tech with 6:12 remaining, the Bulldogs were able to string some more defensive stops together and hold the Panthers to just eight points the rest of the way.
Bracey finished with a season-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting while adding four assists. Jean also set a season-high 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, drilling a career-high five triples.
Sophomore JaColby Pemberton came off the bench and provided some quality minutes, tying his career-high with 14 while junior Oliver Powell continued with his consistent production by adding 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
LA Tech ended up shooting 52 percent from the field (30-of-58) and 39 percent from downtown (11-of-28) while adding a total of seven blocks and six steals on defense.
Prairie View A&M was 28-of-57 from the field for 49 percent and 6-of-16 from three-point range for 38 percent. While the Panthers top scorer Gary Blackston was limited to his season low in points, Darius Williams came off the bench to register a team-high 20 points.
Next up for LA Tech is a trip to the Lone Star State to take on Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches on Friday, Dec. 7. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.
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