Russell’s season-high 29 points not enough for Ragin’ Cajuns at South Alabama

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MOBILE, Ala. – South Alabama’s Andre Fox came off the bench to score 20 points, including a rainbow four-point play with 25.5 seconds remaining and the Jaguars made five free throws in the final 10 seconds to defeat the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, 78-75, in a Sun Belt Conference game on Thursday at the Mitchell Center.

Cedric Russell scored 22 of his season-high 29 points in the second half for Louisiana (10-16, 5-10 Sun Belt), which took a 71-69 lead on P.J. Hardy’s 3-pointer with 37 seconds left.

Louisiana led 66-61 on a bucket by Jalen Johnson with 3:49 remaining and kept its lead as two free throws by Jalen Johnson gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 68-65 lead with 2:32 left.

South Alabama (15-11, 8-7 Sun Belt) got a jumper from John Pettway with 2:04 remaining before Trhae Mitchell gave the Jaguars a 69-68 lead when he drained a pair of free throws at the 1:02 mark.

Hardy responded for Louisiana with a 3-pointer from the left wing to put Louisiana back ahead before Fox would answer when he connected on a 3-pointer from the left corner and was fouled by Hardy to put South Alabama back up for good, 73-71.

Chad Lott then helped the Jaguars on the defensive end when he blocked Mylik Wilson’s attempt on a drive to the basket and Herb McGee was fouled and sank two free throws with 9.8 seconds left for a 75-71 advantage.

Wilson drove the length of the court on the inbounds and scored with 4.8 seconds left to cut the deficit to 75-73. After McGee was fouled and made two free throws for a 77-73 lead, Louisiana had a chance to tie the game when Jalen Johnson was fouled on a 3-pointer that nearly fell in with 0.9 seconds left.

Johnson, who scored 19 points, made the first two attempts before a lane violation was called on his deliberate miss on his final attempt. Fox made the first of two free throws after getting fouled with 0.6 seconds left and Wilson’s desperation fullcourt heave at the buzzer fell short.

Louisiana trailed 54-47 with 8:14 remaining before a bucket by Johnson started a 14-5 run that would put the Ragin’ Cajuns back on top. Russell, who went 10-for-16 from the floor with a career-high seven 3-pointers, scored the next 12 points for Louisiana on four 3-pointers, with his final one giving the Ragin’ Cajuns a 61-59 lead with 5:02 remaining.

Mitchell, who scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half for the Jaguars, sank one of two free throws before his three-point play got South Alabama to within 66-65 with 2:50 left.

Lott scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for South Alabama, which won its third straight game of the Ragin’ Cajuns by a combined seven points. Mitchell grabbed nine rebounds for the Jaguars, who held a 38-36 advantage on the glass and had an 18-12 advantage in second-chance points.

Tirus Smith recorded his second career double-double for Louisiana, scoring 10 points with career-highs in both rebounds (14) and blocked shots (5). Wilson finished with nine points for Louisiana while recording four steals and dishing out a career-best seven assists.

Louisiana will return to action on Saturday when it travels to face Troy (9-17, 5-10 Sun Belt) in a 6 p.m. game at Trojan Arena. The Trojans dropped a 74-71 decision to ULM on Thursday.

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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