Bulldogs seek revenge against Babbitt, Pack
Special to the Nevada Appeal
It will be a while before the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs forget Luke Babbitt.
The Nevada Wolf Pack freshman, after all, drilled a last-second 3-pointer to beat the Bulldogs, 67-64, on Jan. 10 in Ruston, La. And, just in case the Bulldogs have indeed forgotten that moment, they’ll be able to see it all over again on the Lawlor Events Center scoreboard tonight.
“People have told me that it’s shown on there,” said Babbitt of the Wolf Pack’s pre-game video presentation just minutes before every home game. “But I haven’t seen it.”
Odds are the Bulldogs, who will take on the Pack at Lawlor tonight (7:05 p.m., 630AM), would rather forget The Shot Heard From Ruston to Reno.
“I don’t think that will motivate them,” said Babbitt, of the school’s video presentation of his now-famous shot. “They are going to come out and play hard no matter what.”
Babbitt and the Pack are hoping to have an easier time against the Bulldogs tonight. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to that,” said Babbitt of his last-second heroics a month ago.
The Bulldogs come to Reno with an overall record of 8-14 and tied for seventh place in the Western Athletic Conference at 2-7. Louisiana Tech, which has lost four in a row, has gone just 14-38 overall and 5-20 in the WAC over the last two seasons.
Wolf Pack coach Mark Fox, though, isn’t worried that his team will spend too much time looking at Louisiana Tech’s record. The Pack, by comparison, is 13-8 overall and in second place in the WAC at 6-2. They have also won 81 of their last 94 home games.
“I don’t worry about that sort of thing with this team,” said Fox of any overconfidence creeping into the Pack’s attitude tonight. “I worried about that sort of thing back in 2007, when we were so good that some nights we could kind of put it on auto-pilot and still win. But this team knows that it has to bring it each and every night.”
“We were fortunate to come out with a victory the last time we played them,” junior Joey Shaw said.
The Bulldogs are led by a pair of junior guards, Kyle Gibson and Jamel Guyton, and 6-foot-11 junior center Magnum Rolle. Gibson scored 18 points against the Pack on Jan. 10.
Missing from the Louisiana Tech roster tonight, though, will be the 6-10 Kenneth Cooper.
Cooper had 12 points and 12 rebounds against the Pack a month ago but has since been kicked off the team for breaking undisclosed team rules. The Pack game was his last in a Louisiana Tech uniform.
Fox, though, insists the Pack won’t have an easy time in the paint with Cooper missing. Rolle, after all, is averaging 12.1 points and 7.3 rebounds a game.
“Magnum’s role has increased since then and they are really showcasing his game,” Fox said. “He’s really elevated his game, has become much more aggressive and has turned into a terrific player.”
Fox will use a number of players to make sure Rolle doesn’t dominate inside. One of those players is freshman Dario Hunt, who had six blocks in the Pack’s 69-65 victory at Idaho last Saturday. The 6-8 Hunt is now tied with Nick Fazekas (2003-04) for the most blocks by a Wolf Pack freshman with 44.
“Blocking shots is always something I’ve been able to do,” said Hunt, who leads the WAC with 2.10 blocks a game. “It’s been an adjustment at this level. At first I was getting a lot of cheap fouls but my timing is better now.”
The Wolf Pack also will host New Mexico State on Saturday (5:05 p.m.) at Lawlor Events Center.