JONESBORO — Matt Daniel isn’t sure what to expect from Arkansas State’s opponent this weekend at First National Bank Arena.
Daniel knows what Louisiana-Lafayette did in its first seven games, and he hasn’t forgotten what happened when the teams met last season, but the Ragin’ Cajuns have had plenty of time to make changes since their most recent game.
UL Lafayette blasted Texas State 67-41 on Jan. 2. Since then, the Cajuns have had series at Arkansas-Little Rock (Jan. 8-9) and at home against Texas-Arlington (Jan. 15-16) postponed because of their opponents’ COVID-19 concerns.
“By the time they get here (today), they will not have played in 20 days. Twenty days is almost how many practices we had in the preseason,” said Daniel, ASU’s head coach. “My point with that is we put in our whole system in 20 days, so there is no telling what we’re going to see and it’s hard to prep for. They’re going to be rested, but I hope they’re rusty.”
The teams meet today at 6 p.m., followed by Saturday’s game at 4 p.m.
ASU (9-1, 4-0 Sun Belt) carries a nine-game winning streak into the weekend. The Red Wolves went on the road last weekend for the first time, winning 64-50 and 59-44 at Louisiana-Monroe.
“It was our first road trip and we were resilient enough to get two on the road. We battled through some adversity,” Daniel said. “We didn’t practice very well the week before and we didn’t play very well down there, and I don’t know if it’s fatigue, school starting back, just lack of focus or letting winning games get to your head. I don’t know what that is, but practice this week has been better.”
Junior guard Jireh Washington led ASU in scoring in both games, finishing with 24 points in the first game and 17 in the second. Washington is ASU’s season scoring leader at 12.4 points, per game, followed by Jada Stinson at 11.9 and Peyton Martin at 10.3.
UL Lafayette (2-5, 1-1 Sun Belt) hasn’t played a home game since Dec. 9. Picked fourth in the preseason Sun Belt poll, the Cajuns feature a pair of preseason All-Sun Belt selections in guard Brandi Williams and forward Ty’Reona Doucet.
Williams, who is shooting 43.8 percent from the 3-point line, averages 14 points per game. Doucet, a 6-1 forward who missed the last two games with an injury, averages 10.6 points and 6.6 rebounds.
UL Lafayette routed ASU 83-43 when the teams met last season in Lafayette. The Cajuns, who were 19-12 last year, return players who combined for 71 points in that game.
“They return four starters, which is almost 60 points (per game), so they’re a veteran crew. They are extremely athletic and long all over the floor,” Daniel said. “They’re going to get up and down, they’re going to press and drive it and get to the free throw line. They’re going to try to speed you up, which we like to play fast anyway, but we have to play with poise.”