LAFAYETTE – JaKeenan Gant scored a career-high 24 points as he led four players in double figures and helped the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns to its ninth straight victory with an 81-69 decision over Troy in a Sun Belt Conference game on Saturday at the Cajundome.
Frank Bartley and Johnathan Stove scored 18 points each for Louisiana (19-3, 9-0 SBC), which won its 14th straight game at home dating back to last season and posted an unbeaten record in the month of January for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.
Bryce Washington added 11 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds as the Ragin’ Cajuns continued their best-ever league start while winning its 15th straight SBC contest dating back to last season.
Troy (9-13, 3-6 SBC), the last team to defeat Louisiana in the Cajundome after a 100-88 win over Feb. 11, 2017, opened the game on a 9-4 run and took its biggest lead of the night as B.J. Miller’s layup with 14:06 remaining in the first half gave the Trojans a 15-7 lead.
Gant, who finished 9-for-14 from the floor with a career-best four 3-pointers, scored a pair of buckets during a 9-0 run that turned a 21-17 deficit for the Ragin’ Cajuns into a 26-21 lead with 8:12 remaining in the first half. Freshman Cedric Russell opened the run with a 3-pointer before Gant would give Louisiana its first lead of the game, 22-21, with a layup at the 9:55 mark.
Gant, who played his first two seasons at Missouri before transferring to Louisiana before the 2016-17 season, capped a 19-point first half as he banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Ragin’ Cajuns a 40-36 lead.
The Trojans trailed by eight early in the second half, but rallied to tie the game at 46-46 on a bucket by Javan Johnson with 15:23 remaining. The Ragin’ Cajuns regained the lead on the following possession as Bartley drained a 3-pointer and the lead would eventually reach double-digits as Bartley sank his third 3-pointer of the game for a 69-59 lead with 8:43 left.
Louisiana, which eclipsed the 80-point mark for the 84th time since the 2013-14 season – behind North Carolina, BYU, Duke and Gonzaga, took an 80-63 when Stove, who went 5-for-8 from the floor, drained a 3-pointer with 1:30 remaining.
Jordon Varnado scored 18 points to lead four players in double figures with 18 points. Miller added 17 points for the Trojans with Johnson adding 11 and Wesley Person 10.
Louisiana will return to action on Saturday (Feb. 3) when it travels to face ULM in a 2 p.m. contest at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.