Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech among eight teams participating in new in-season event

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There’s another in-season tournament on the college basketball landscape, as it was announced on Friday that the Gulf Coast Showcase will be played in Estero, Fla. in late November. There will be two eight-team tournaments, one for men’s teams (November 25-27) and one for women’s teams (November 29-December 1) with Louisiana Tech being the highest-profile men’s team in the event.

Michael White’s Bulldogs, who will play in Conference USA this season, are coming off of a 27-7 record (16-2 WAC) in 2012-13. With key contributors such as Raheem Appleby (14.9 ppg), Kenneth Smith (6.8 ppg, 5.0 apg) and Alex Hamilton (7.8 ppg, 2.7 apg) back in Ruston, the Bulldogs are capable of making their debut season in Conference USA a good one.

“The tournament format allows everyone a shot at a championship, which is nice,” White said in the release announcing the event. “Playing three games in three days should help prepare all of us for our conference tournaments.

“In addition, the quality of the programs in the field bode well for tremendous competition as it prepares us all for conference play. Very good conferences and programs will be represented.”

In addition to Louisiana Tech the men’s field includes Wagner, St. Bonaventure, San Diego, UNCG, UIC, Southern Illinois and Stetson. Wagner has the talent needed to be a factor in the NEC in 2013-14, and San Diego will feature one of the most underrated backcourts around in point guard Christopher Anderson and shooting guard Johnny Dee.

Howard Moore’s UIC Flames are looking to improve on their 18-16 campaign of a season ago, with forward Hayden Humes (10.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Purdue transfer Kelsey Barlow being two of their key players. UIC and San Diego will meet in the first round, and that could be an entertaining contest. The other match-ups are Louisiana Tech/UNCG, Wagner/Stetson and St. Bonaventure/Southern Illinois.

The eight teams in the women’s field are UCLA, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, N.C. State, James Madison, Wright State, Grand Canyon and Southeastern Louisiana.

Oklahoma State to face Louisiana Tech in Oklahoma City on December 14

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Normally the annual All-College Classic in Oklahoma City features Oklahoma and Oklahoma State’s men’s basketball teams taking on non-conference opposition. This season’s event however will be an all-Cowboy affair that will make history, with the men’s and women’s programs taking the Chesapeake Energy Arena floor on Saturday, December 14.

This is the first time that the doubleheader has been of the men’s/women’s variety, with the Oklahoma State women’s team leading things off with a game against USF. Following that will be Travis Ford’s Cowboys playing reigning WAC regular season co-champion Louisiana Tech.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the All-College Classic once again this season,” Ford said in the release. “We have a large alumni base in Oklahoma City, and Chesapeake Energy Arena is a first-class facility. It’s a great opportunity for the OSU fans in OKC that don’t have season tickets to get an up-close look at this year’s squad.”

While the matchup of Oklahoma State and Louisiana Tech may not make waves nationally from a “name brand” standpoint, this is a game that features one team that will be expected to enjoy some NCAA tournament success in March (Oklahoma State) and another capable of earning a spot in the 68-team field.

Michael White’s Bulldogs won 26 regular season games (27-7 overall), but an upset loss to UTSA in the WAC tournament relegated Louisiana Tech to the Postseason NIT (where they beat Florida State before losing to Southern Miss).

Louisiana Tech will face stiffer conference competition this season now that they’re in Conference USA, but with guard Raheem Appleby (14.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg) leading the way for a group that returns six of its top seven scorers they’ll be a factor in the C-USA race.

As for Oklahoma State, the return of guards Marcus Smart and Markel Brown and forward Le’Bryan Nash makes Travis Ford’s team one of the early favorites to win the Big 12. This matchup offers them a solid non-conference test, and it’s a game that in theory shouldn’t kill them when it comes to the computer numbers that can impact a team’s NCAA tournament seeding.

Louisiana Tech’s Bulldog mascot, Tech XX, goes missing

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It appears I’ve become the country’s most prominent source when it comes to Bulldog mascot-related news.

Check out my past work here. And here.

But we’ve got some sadder news this time, as Louisiana Tech’s Bulldog mascot, Tech XX, has gone missing, according to the Shreveport Times (La.).

Tech XX, a 4-year-old English Bulldog, has been missing since Sunday after a worker at the animal clinic let him out for a bathroom break, only to return minutes later and find Tech XX was out of sight.

“He wasn’t outside five minutes and he was gone,” Dr. Patrick Sexton, the dog’s caretaker, told the paper.

There is a $1,000 reward for the person who can return Tech XX safely.

The mysterious twist to all of this, though, is that Sexton maintains that the dog is not one to wander, only preferring to go outside during the sporting events that he takes part in.

Those in the community are beginning a campaign to find the dog, even beginning a drive through Twitter with the hashtag #FindTechXX

“We’re trying everything we can to get the word out,” Will Dearmon, Student Government Association president at Louisiana Tech, told the paper. “As many people as we can get to search for him and bring him home safely, the better.”

English Bulldogs, due to their size and small breathing passages, typically do not do well in the extreme heat that descends upon Louisiana during the summer, especially these upcoming days of August.

“It’s so hot and to not know whether he was taken or is lost or something else completely is scary,” Dearmon said. “I just want to know he’s OK.”

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_