Ragin’ Cajuns drop SBC opener at Arkansas State in foul-plagued game

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Ragin’ Cajuns host Little Rock on Saturday to start four-game homestand

JONESBORO, Ark. – Marquis Eaton scored a game-high 24 points to lead three players in double figures and Arkansas State held off the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, 79-67, in a foul-plagued Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams on Wednesday at First National Bank Arena.

Caleb Fields came off the bench to add 18 points with Jerry Johnson, Jr., adding 11 as Arkansas State (8-3, 1-0 Sun Belt) snapped a two-game losing streak at home to Louisiana (5-6, 0-1 Sun Belt).

In a game that saw a combined 59 fouls, including 10 technical fouls, Arkansas State used a 9-1 run late in the game to pull away after Cedric Russell’s bucket with 6:03 remaining got Louisiana to within 64-61.

The Ragin’ Cajuns would miss nine of their final 10 attempts from the floor, including six of their final seven after Russell picked up his second technical foul with 3:55 remaining with Louisiana trailing, 68-63.

Louisiana, which was called for one technical foul through the first 10 games of the 2019-20 season while being whistled for a total of seven during the entire 2018-19 campaign, were called for seven alone with Jalen Johnson, Dou Gueye, P.J. Hardy, Trajan Wesley and the Louisiana bench all picking up fouls.

The Ragin’ Cajuns trailed 23-12 in the first half and closed to within 37-35 at halftime as Russell scored 12 of his team-high 16 points. Louisiana would trail 43-37 with 18:01 remaining before going on a 7-0 run that was capped by a free throw by Tirus Smith at the 16:45 mark.

But a bucket by Fields with 16:04 left would start a 7-0 run by the Red Wolves, who would take the lead for good and not let Louisiana get closer than three (64-61) the rest of the way.

Russell led Louisiana, which was whistled for 31 fouls, with 16 points. Smith, making his first start for Louisiana, added a season-high 15 points and a career-high tying eight rebounds for the Ragin’ Cajuns with Mylik Wilson adding 12 points and Johnson 10.

Louisiana will return to action on Saturday when it hosts Little Rock at the Cajundome at 7 p.m. The game will be the first of a four-game homestand for the Ragin’ Cajuns that will also see games against UC Santa Barbara (Dec. 29), South Alabama (Jan. 2) and Troy (Jan. 4).

Season tickets for the 2019-20 campaign are currently on sale at the Louisiana Athletics Box Office at the Cajundome, by phone at (337) 265-2357, or on-line at RaginCajuns.com/MBBTix.

Follow the Ragin’ Cajuns on Twitter (@RaginCajunsMBB), Facebook (RaginCajunsMBB) or Instagram (@RaginCajunsMBB) to stay up-to-date on all that is happening with Louisiana Men’s Basketball.

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