TROY, Ala. – Jalen Johnson scored 11 of his team-high 20 points in the second half and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Men’s Basketball team held off a pair of furious second-half rallies to claim an 81-77 victory over Troy in a Sun Belt Conference game on Saturday at Trojan Arena.
Tirus Smith tied a career-high with 17 points with P.J. Hardy adding 15 and Mylik Wilson 11 to lead Louisiana (11-16, 6-10 Sun Belt) to its eighth victory in 10 all-time games at Troy (9-18, 5-11 Sun Belt).
Johnson, who finished 7-for-16 from the floor, made all four of his free throws in the final half-minute as Louisiana made eight free throws in the final 2:51 and finished 30-for-39 (76.9 percent) from the charity stripe.
Louisiana trailed 8-3 early in the first half after a jumper by Nick Stampley with 17:28 remaining in the first half before going on an 11-0 run to take the lead for good. Smith, who went 4-for-4 from the floor and 9-for-10 from the free throw line, opened the run with a dunk and added a pair of free throws before a bucket by Johnson would give the Ragin’ Cajuns the lead for good.
The Ragin’ Cajuns would push their lead to 27-17 on a layup by Wilson and 34-18 on a pair of free throws by Dou Gueye with 3:47 left in the half before the Trojans would close out the half on a 9-2 run to cut the lead to 36-27.
Louisiana opened the second half on a 9-2 run with Hardy drilling a 3-pointer that gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 45-29 lead with 17:32 remaining.
Troy, which was led by Ty Gordon’s 28 points, would cut the lead to 52-47 on a basket by Khalyl Waters with 12:13 remaining before Louisiana would respond with an 11-2 run to push the lead back to double digits.
A pair of free throws by Gueye with 9:04 left would give the Ragin’ Cajuns a 63-49 lead and Louisiana would lead 73-63 on a bucket by Wilson with 3:56 remaining.
Troy would twice cut the deficit to three points in the final minute, but Johnson responded with four free throws and Cedric Russell sealed the win with a free throw with 3.0 seconds remaining.
Smith grabbed eight rebounds and blocked a pair of shots for Louisiana while Russell tied a career-high with seven rebounds. Desmond Williams added 14 points for the Trojans while Stampley led all players with nine rebounds.
Louisiana will wrap up its three-game roadtrip on Saturday (Feb. 22) when it visits ULM at Fant-Ewing Coliseum. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
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