LOUISIANA La. The last time the University of Louisiana tangled with the Denver Pioneers, it took a last-second Antoine Landry jumper to produce an 83-81 road victory in the Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams.

When the two tangle at 7:05 p.m. today in the Cajundome, it could be another taut battle.

Coach Jessie Evans' Ragin' Cajuns are 12-5 on the year and 7-1 in league play, riding a crest of momentum gained from Thursday night's 94-81 whipping of North Texas that wasn't as close as the final score might indicate.

Denver is two games back at 5-3 (13-7 on the season) after drubbing short-handed New Mexico State 68-54 in Las Cruces.

The Cajuns jumped on North Texas with intense defensive pressure to start the second half Thursday at the Cajundome, limiting the shocked visitors to six shots in the first nine minutes of the period.

That effort increased a 37-34 halftime edge to a commanding 60-40, and they soon got it to 78-52.

"That was a heck of an effort to do that," Evans said after his team shut the door to turn the tide. "Especially since North Texas is as talented as any team in the Sun Belt, if not the most talented."

The latter honor actually belongs to the Cajuns, who come at foes in waves with eight starter-worthy players.

Dwayne Mitchell had 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting in the win, while Laurie Bridges added 13 points and Brad Boyd and Cedric Williams had 12 apiece.

"I wish Dwayne was 100 percent right now," Evans said. "It looks like he's going to have his knee worked on at the end of the season. He's just a tough kid, and we have a number of tough kids on our team.

"Dwayne is a no-nonsense guy, very focused. He knows the value of stopping you."

"I try to provide excitement," Mitchell said. "Let me get in, and get some excitement in it."

Boyd became the 35th player in UL history with 1,000 career points in the contest, but his passing drew raves especially a deep-snap, fast-break feed to Mitchell for a spectacular dunk.

The rest of the story

Bruce Brown