Lamar set to invade UTRGV

Published 9:45 pm Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Lamar sports information
BEAUMONT – After putting an end to a minor three-game slide last time out, the Lamar basketball team (5-4/.556) goes in search of consecutive wins Friday when it travel to Edinburg, Texas to take on the UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros. For the Cardinals, the game at UTRGV with signal an end to a stretch that has seen the Cardinals play seven of their last nine games away from Beaumont.

“This has been a very tough stretch for our guys,” said LU head coach Tic Price. “These non-conference games are scheduled with a purpose. We want to put our team in tough environments against very good opponents to better prepare them for the conference season. We don’t want our kids to face a situation in Southland Conference play that they haven’t already seen at some other point during the year.

“We schedule games against teams with different styles of play, varying offenses and against teams that will throw different defensive looks at us. We not only want our guys to recognize these situations and feel confident in them when the conference schedule comes around, but it gives us a chance to see how our guys react to different situations and which lineups work best,” added Price.

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With such a young squad (LU’s roster includes six first-year players), the best description for the 2016-17 season is the Cardinals have been thrown into the fire early and often. The recent road swing has taken LU to 2016 NCAA tournament participants Oregon State and Fresno State. The Cardinals had a four-game swing that made stops at Prairie View A&M, Idaho State, San Francisco and DePaul, and after a lone home game against Austin College, Big Red returns to the road once again to face UT Rio Grande Valley.

One of the oldest rivalries in program history, Friday’s game will be the 74th all-time meeting between the two schools – a series that has seen LU grab the upper hand, 42-31 (.575). The two schools have split the past four games with the Cardinals taking an 80-66 decision last year in Beaumont. The Cardinals have struggled in the series away from home. UTRGV (formerly UT Pan American) has posted a 20-15 (.571) record in those games.

The Vaqueros (4-8/.333) enter the Friday showdown in a similar position as LU. UTRGV put a stop to its own three-game slide by picking up wins in their last two games. The Vaqueros are coming off consecutive wins over Texas State and North Florida.

Averaging nearly 77 points per game, the Vaqueros come into the contest with one of the nation’s top one-two punches. UTRGV is led by Nick Dixon who is averaging better than 18 points per game. He is joined in the starting lineup by Antonio Green who is scoring 17.6 per contest.

The Vaqueros have struggled at times this season on the glass. As a team, UTRGV is averaging 36.3 rebounds per contest and is being outrebounded by better than three boards per game.

The Cardinals are being led by junior Colton Weisbrod. The Nederland native ranks among the Southland leaders in scoring (15.7 ppg) and leads the conference pulling down just under 10 rebounds per game. Sophomore Nick Garth comes off the bench to score 11.3 per game.

In addition to those two, junior Zjori Bosha has become a scoring threat for the Red and White in the previous two games. Bosha has hit double figures in each of the past two contests, including his first career double-double last time out, but it was his work on the defensive side of the ball that made folks take notice. Bosha became the first player in school history to record a double-double with steals being one of the stat categories when he recorded a school-record 10 in the win over Austin College.

“Zjori has had to overcome a lot of injuries during his first two seasons, and this is the healthiest he has been since very early on during his freshman year,” said Price. “He is a veteran guy and he knows what we expect on a daily basis. Not only does he know what we look for as coaches, but Zjori uses his length real well at getting into passing lanes and disrupting the offense.”

Friday’s game marks the start of a tough stretch for UTRGV. Just 24 hours after their game against LU, the Vaqueros will be in Houston, Texas to take on the Cougars. The Vaqueros will be back in Edinburg four nights later to take on Wayland Baptist.

The game against UTRGV will tip off at 7 p.m. from the UTRGV Fieldhouse in Edinburg. It can be seen live on the American Sports Network, and heard live on Newstalk 560 KLVI.

About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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