Nov 25, 2012 4:46 PM by UL Sports Information

Ragin' Cajuns Push 15th-Ranked Spartans to Final Horn

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Ragin' Cajuns men's basketball team rebounded from a frustrating defeat at New Mexico State on Friday with a strong effort that pushed No. 15 Michigan State until the final horn here Sunday afternoon at the Breslin Center.


When Elfrid Payton's last-second three-point attempt for a chance to force overtime fell short of the basket, the nationally ranked Spartans held on for a 63-60 victory.


Payton led Louisiana (2-4) with a game-and career-high tying 20 points. He was joined in double figures by Shawn Long (16 points) and Kevin Brown (14 points) in forcing the Spartans (5-1) to go 40 minutes to hold off the visitors.


The Ragin' Cajuns faced a double digit deficit only twice and it was a 10-point margin both times that lasted no longer than 25 seconds. Each time the squad battled back, the final time using a scoring run that allowed for the opportunity to tie the contest twice in the final 10 seconds.


Keith Appling provided MSU a 60-50 lead with 3:09 left after making two free throws - only the second double digit lead of the contest.


The Ragin' Cajuns surged back with a 10-2 run that started with a Payton layup at 2:44 and finished with a Brown putback basket with 56 seconds left that trimmed the Spartans lead to 62-60.


A defensive stop on the ensuing possession brought Louisiana back to their end of the court with a chance to either take the lead or tie. The Cajuns fed the ball to Long in the paint that muscled his way for a layup that rolled around the rim and into the hands of MSU's Branden Dawson.


Dawson made just one of two shots on a 1-and-1 try, and the Cajuns pushed the ball up the court with a second chance at tying. Payton got a good look, but the shot fell short of the rim and time expired.


"We were where we needed to be the better part of the contest," head coach Bob Marlin mentioned. "To have an opportunity (to win or tie) is all you can ask for. We didn't get many breaks and had a couple of shot clock violations work against us including one on a Kevin Brown three-pointer that we'd like to have back.


"(Elfrid) Payton played extremely hard as most of our guys did and I am encouraged by this performance as we head into conference play."


The contest closed out the Cajuns second weekend road swing in as many weeks that began on Friday in Las Cruces, N.M. It was the first meeting between Louisiana and Michigan State in East Lansing since Dec. 3, 1968 and first-ever in the Breslin Center.


Louisiana returns to action on Thursday, Nov. 29 at the Cajundome opening Sun Belt action against Middle Tennessee. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., in what marks the earliest start to SBC play for the Cajuns (previous earliest start was Nov. 30, 1999 at Denver).


The Cajuns used a strong shooting effort in the first half - maintaining a 50 percent clip through the first 17 minutes - and a defense that came in forcing 19 turnovers per contest lived up to the billing, keeping the Spartans within reach the entire afternoon.


Louisiana's hustle and determination led to 20 MSU turnovers - the third straight game forcing 20-plus opponent miscues. The Cajuns produced 15 points off the Spartans' turnovers, including the team's final five that cut the MSU lead to 62-60.


Appling led the Spartans with 19 points, with 10 coming from the charity stripe. Dawson added 12 points and Adreian Payne grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to aid a 40-28 MSU rebound advantage.


Long led Louisiana with eight rebounds, falling just short of his third double-double of the season. Payton collected seven of the Ragin' Cajuns 12 steals.

Louisiana started the game with its best first half shooting performance of the season in a road game. The Cajuns opened the game 8-of-12 from the floor and carried the lead for the first 13 minutes.


Long, who had 14 points by the under eight timeout, led the charge early knocking down two triples in the first four-plus minutes to stake the Cajuns out to a 10-3 lead.


Three-pointers on consecutive possessions, one apiece from Russell Byrd and Brandan Kearney, brought the Spartans into the lead for the first time at 23-21 with 6:53 on the first half clock.


The lead swapped hands inside of five minutes as Payton scored a layup at 5:07 for a 25-24 Louisiana lead, then Kearney made another triple to put MSU ahead 27-25 at 4:45.


Appling made all three free throws on a three-shot foul at 3:48 to give the Spartans a 30-25 lead and enough cushion to take a lead into the locker room.


Louisiana kept the pressure on the 15th-ranked Spartans at the onset of the second stanza. Baskets from Elridge Moore and Payton in the first 32 seconds closed the deficit to 33-31.


An Appling triple at 16:59 capped off a 7-0 MSU run that opened a 40-31 advantage. The Cajuns defense stopped the Spartans from pushing the lead to double figures by holding them scoreless until 12:07.


Derrick Nix ended the Spartans' field goal drought with an old-fashioned three-point play, then two freebies from Appling at 11:23 produced the first double digit lead of the afternoon, 46-36.


Brown answered with a trey for Louisiana at 11:12 to drop the MSU lead back to single digits. He would add another long-range make two minutes later and the Cajuns were within four points, 48-44, with 9:26 remaining.


BANK SHOTS: Sunday's game marked the Ragin' Cajuns' first at the Breslin Center, but not the first game played in East Lansing...Legendary coach Beryl Shipley (school's winningest coach) brought the then-USL Bulldogs to East Lansing to face MSU in the 1968-69 season - Spartans won 90-84 at Jenison Fieldhouse (MSU's old home)...Louisiana appeared on a Big 10 school's home court for the first time since Dec. 1, 1996 when then-Marty Fletcher coached USL faced Ohio State and tied the school record for three-point makes with 15...The Ragin' Cajuns played for the fifth time in 10 days, all five games in different states (Nov. 16 at Texas Southern; Nov. 18 at Boise State; Wednesday at home vs. SUNO; Friday at NMSU; Sunday at MSU)...In getting to East Lansing, the Cajuns traveled 3,063 miles, either by bus or airplane (trip started with game at New Mexico State on Friday)...The return trip home began after the contest with MSU and featured 1,783 miles spanning East Lansing-Grand Rapids-Houston-New Orleans-Lafayette...Freshman Steven Wronkoski made his second career start in as many games...Shawn Long posted double digits in points for the fifth time in six outings...Long scored 14 points in the game's first 10:03...Elfrid Payton collected his 13th career double figure scoring game, coming on the heels of being held to just two points in Friday's loss at NMSU...Kevin Brown netted his career-high in points, with 14 points surpassing the nine scored at Texas Southern (11/16)...Elfrid Payton's seven steals were a career-best and was one shy of the school record eight steals last reached by Ron Bailey on Jan. 21, 1995 vs. Western Kentucky.




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