It was a career-night for Michale Kyser as the forward flirted with a triple-double.
He recorded a career-high 13 points to go along with 17 rebounds and seven blocks in leading Louisiana Tech to a grind-it-out win, 64-50, over in-state foe McNeese State on Tuesday night inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
While Kyser was providing the much-needed presence down low, Raheem Appleby was knocking down jumpers from the outside. He registered a game-high 23 points, 19 of which came in the first half to help give LA Tech (9-3) the early advantage.
The Bulldog defense came out strong for the third straight game, forcing McNeese State (2-8) into 19 turnovers.
Aside from the one-two punch of Kyser and Appleby, the offense struggled in the halfcourt, going 23-of-60 for 38 percent, and with turning the ball over themselves 13 times.
"I am happy that we got a win, for sure," said head coach Michael White. "I was pleased with the way we rebounded the ball and the way we defended overall. Offensively we continue to struggle. We will continue to search for answers. I thought we did some good things executing and then we made some ill-advised passes.
"We had 13 turnovers and six or seven were probably very much unforced. We missed some open threes that we have to make to be competitive in Conference USA and have a chance to win on the road at ULM."
The game was neck-and-neck with McNeese holding a slim, 23-22 lead with 7:27 remaining in the first half. Then the Raheem Appleby show turned on.
Kenneth Smith dished the ball to Raheem Appleby for a corner three. The Jacksonville, Ark. native was then the recipient of a Cordarius Johnson steal and pass as he flushed home the one-handed slam.
Appleby later drained back-to-back three's to cap a 13-2 run that pushed the Bulldog lead to a double-digit advantage, 35-25.
Smith found Appleby again with three seconds before halftime as the junior sunk a 10-foot jumper, giving LA Tech a 39-30 lead going into the break.
"[Appleby] was really good," said White. "Raheem was really efficient tonight. He took good shots and shot at a high level going 3-of-5 from three. He played a good floor game with only one turnover and defended well. When he is that good offensively, we are that much better."
LA Tech opened the second half on an 8-1 run to extend its lead to 48-31, the largest of the game for the ‘Dogs.
Kyser anchored the defense the rest of the way, not allowing McNeese to ever get to within single-digits. The junior had 10 rebounds and five blocks alone in the second stanza while the team held the Cowboys to just 6-of-28 shooting.
Desharick Guidry fouling out for McNeese did not help the Cowboys as its star forward left the contest with 10 minutes still remaining in the game.
On the flipside, the Bulldogs were not as crisp either, making just eight field goals in the second stanza.
It was Kyser's second career double-double. Oddly enough, the first one came last season at McNeese State.
"When [Kyser] is playing with that energy level, he is really good," said White. "For a guy that is 195 pounds, he played with a lot of strength and toughness tonight. If he continues to do that, we will be that much of a better team."
The Cowboys were led by Craig McFerring who was their lone player in double-figures with 10 points.
Next up, LA Tech takes on another in-state opponent as they travel down Interstate 20 to take on UL-Monroe on Sunday at 5 p.m.