Sloppy Braves

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 17, 2002

LAFAYETTE, La. &045; Alcorn State was already a bit of an underdog just walking into The Cajundome Monday.

Then came the turnovers.

Then came Louisiana-Lafayette’s dominating inside game.

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Followed by Braves’ inside man Lee Cook going to the bench in foul trouble.

All that &045; along with other issues that didn’t favor the Braves &045; culminated in a 99-66 ULL blowout win that dropped the Braves to 1-7 on the season heading into their Christmas break.

While the seven losses have come against some stout competition, don’t look for the Braves to be chalking up anything as a moral victory.

&uot;I don’t think we’re playing good ball,&uot; said Alcorn forward Myles Howard, who scored a team-high 18 points off the bench. &uot;We’re not playing to our full potential yet. I know we can compete with these guys. It’s just a matter of us bringing our A game.&uot;

The 33-point difference was the worst loss this year for the Braves, who play in the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic in Hawaii after Christmas before a road date against Kentucky Jan. 2.

All those games are learning experiences, and the Braves &045; missing starting guards Richard Cammons and Jason Cable &045; are doing just that before opening Southwestern Athletic Conference play Jan. 4 at home against Prairie View.

&uot;Preseason doesn’t look good, but it won’t carry you anywhere,&uot; Alcorn head coach Davey Whitney said. &uot;A black school is never going to get an at-large bid, so you’ve got to prepare your team so you can win your conference and get into the NCAA tournament. We were 0-7 at this time last year and came on strong after that.&uot;

About the best time the Braves came on strong against the Ragin’ Cajuns was at the end of the first half when ULL held a 46-34 lead heading into the break. But the Braves’ hopes of trimming the lead any more didn’t last long, and the Cajuns turned turnovers into points.

Alcorn finished the game with 31 turnovers, and a 3-pointer from Chris Cameron less than four minutes into the second half put the lead at 61-37 to cap a 15-3 run.

&uot;We’re missing our starting backcourt with Cammons and Cable,&uot; ASU guard Tori Harris said. &uot;We’re breaking in two young guards, and we’re trying to get everybody in tune with our offense. We’re trying to get everybody on the same page. We’re having a difficult time right now.&uot;

The Cajuns, however, didn’t have to put pressure on Alcorn’s guards to get all their points. Settling into the half-court was good enough since they had what seemed like an endless stream of big men underneath to go for scores.

Their three starters underneath combined for 57 points, and 6-10, 240-pound Anthony Southall put in a dunk with 13:59 left following an offensive foul on Harris that put the Cajuns’ lead at 67-42.

Southall finished with 24 points in 29 minutes.

&uot;For the most part, I thought our guys hung in there and played tough,&uot; ULL head coach Jessie Evans said. &uot;To Alcorn’s credit, they didn’t quit. They’re going to keep the pressure on you. If you’re not consistent in doing the things you’re capable of, they’re going to take the ball from you. They’re young. When your leading scorer and rebounder gets in foul trouble like they did with Cook, that’s hard to overcome.&uot;

Nothing started out well for the Braves, who turned the ball over enough in the early going to fill a good five minutes of a ULL highlight film with a number of dunks. Immanuel Washington slammed one home with 8:06 left after getting a steal to give ULL a 31-14 lead with 8:06 left.

The Braves didn’t put together consecutive field goals until the end of the first half.

&uot;They got a lot of easy baskets at the beginning of the game,&uot; Harris said. &uot;They’re a solid team. It’s tough to come from behind against a team on their home court.&uot;

Alcorn, however, made a run at the end of the half before a bucket from Robert Jupiter with 6:24 left kept the lead at 17, 35-18. Rhau-Chavis Landfair put in a bucket right after, and Alleo Frazier hit one of two free throws when ULL guard Kenneth Lawrence was called for a technical.

Dion Callans hit a basket with 3:42 left to cut it to 38-25, and the Braves finished the half on a 9-1 run as Frazier’s 3-pointer ignited it and Howard’s basket with 15 seconds left cut it to 46-34 at the break.

&uot;I thought we got in there and did some things that were un-wise &045; let’s put it that way,&uot; Evans said. &uot;I wasn’t pleased with our turnovers. We’ve got to slow down and make plays &045; not hit the home run all the time. We’ve got to settle for the singles and settle for what the defense wants us to have. We’ve got to be patient to do that.&uot;

Patience, meanwhile, is something the Braves can work on as well. But with Cammons (grade situation) and Cable (knee) out, the results weren’t going to come quickly against a team like ULL.

&uot;They were too strong for us &045; physically strong,&uot; Whitney sad. &uot;They are the best team we’ve played, and South Florida is the second-best team we’ve played. This was the first time our defense broke down. They were physically too strong for us. They’re deep, and they’ve got people in the right places. That ball club ought to do some damage this year.&uot;