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Jordan Marsh
Jordan Marsh, a freshman, paced the Mountaineers with 23 points.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Men’s Basketball Downs Louisiana

Trailing by nine at the 14:14 mark after Louisiana’s Kyran Ratliff hit a putback layup, the App State Mountaineers needed a spark. That spark came from Jordan Marsh, who scored all 17 of his second-half points from the 12-minute mark on, which helped the Mountaineers outscore the Ragin’ Cajuns 32-10 over the final 14 minutes. Despite trailing for 22 minutes in the game, when the final horn sounded, it was App State that pulled away with an 85-73 home win in front of 6,587 raucous fans on Saturday.

With the win, App State picked up win No. 22 on the year. The Mountaineers are one of nine teams in the country with 22 wins. It’s also the 12th Sun Belt win this season, which ties the program record for conference wins in a single season.

The Mountaineers (22-5, 12-2 SBC) went small in the final stages of the game, playing four guards, which worked well in the comeback win over Toledo last Saturday. This change led to App State taking control of the game on the scoreboard, but also defensively as from the 13-minute mark to the final media break, the Ragin’ Cajuns (17-10, 9-5 SBC) scored just 10 points. Louisiana made just four field goals in those 10 minutes and the Mountaineer defense forced three of Louisiana’s nine total turnovers.

For the second game in a row, the Mountaineers held their opponent’s leading scorer well below their season average. Kobe Julien came into the Holmes Center as the Sun Belt’s leading scorer, averaging 18 points a game. Julien left the Holmes Center with nine points on 4-14 shooting and zero threes. A mixture of Xavion Brown, Donovan Gregory and Myles Tate helped keep Julien in check all game.

It was a great offensive display put on by App State to close out the homestand as the Mountaineers hit eight threes on 16 attempts. The Cajuns came into today with the lowest-opponent three-point field-goal percentage in the entire country, but the Mountaineers’ shot-making ability was huge. Louisiana hadn’t had an opponent shoot over 50 percent from three this year until Saturday.

Capping off a solid offensive day, App State turned the ball over just five times today and allowed zero points off those five turnovers. Additionally, App State tallied 20 more fast break points than Louisiana. It was a clean game on all fronts by the Mountaineers in the win.

Fresh off a win from the Mountaineer women’s team just 30 minutes prior, the Mountaineers jumped ahead by the first media timeout thanks to a pair of buckets from Brown and a Donovan Gregory three-pointer. With that three, Gregory jumped into the top 15 on App State’s all-time scoring list.

Hosana Kitenge made his presence felt on both the inside and the outside as he helped propel Louisiana ahead after the first media timeout with a three. Kitenge ended the game with a double-double. Not to be deterred, Myles Tate drove into the lane to tie the game at 16 and Brown nailed a layup to give App State a slim lead by the 10:50 mark.

Jordan Marsh got his stellar night going with a hustle play after missing his first shot attempt, grabbing his own offensive rebound and floating up a basket through contact to propel the Mountaineers ahead by three.

The Cajuns’ three-point shooting played a huge role in the first half as they made six first-half threes. London Fields was the main catalyst for Louisiana’s hot-shooting half as he drilled two threes and scored eight points to give Louisiana a three-point lead as play hit the under-eight media break.

Louisiana jumped ahead by five out of the break, but it was Gregory who sparked the Mountaineers back into it as time wound down. Gregory’s four quick points brought the deficit back within two with just under two minutes to play.

As play neared halftime, Fields drilled another three, his third of the half, to push the Cajuns ahead by five, but a desperation three as the shot clock expired by Terence Harcum ignited the crowd and App State trailed by just two as the first-half horn sounded.

Eight of the nine Mountaineers who played in the first half scored, led by Gregory’s eight. Brown played a strong first half, scoring six points on 3-4 shooting. However, Louisiana’s hot shooting helped it close the half with a lead as they shot 50 percent from the field in the first frame.

App State used the momentum generated by Harcum’s long three and immediately tied the game at 41 early in the final half. A Gregory floater and a Tre’Von Spillers put-back slam helped spark the crowd.

Louisiana hit its stride defensively and jumped back in front by six by the under-16 media timeout, keeping App State scoreless for three straight minutes. The Cajun lead grew to nine by the 14:14 mark as Julien scored seven of his nine points during Louisiana’s 13-6 run.

Now trailing by its largest deficit, App State kicked it into gear down the stretch. First, it was Brown who swiped the ball from Michael Thomas and Tate capitalized with a jumper at the right wing. Brown’s energy against Louisiana was much needed as he was a +21 in his minutes, the highest of any player in the game.

Then Marsh got going. Spillers secured a defensive rebound and dished to Marsh who raced up the floor to lay one home while being fouled to bring the deficit back to four. Then Spillers forced a Kitenge turnover and put back a Brown miss to trim the lead to two.

Joe Charles helped balloon the slim Cajun lead back to six by the 10:02 mark, but it was Marsh who immediately quelled the Cajun spurt with a three. Then CJ Huntley drilled a three from the top of the key and the deficit was back to two.

A pair of free throws from Brown tied the game at 62 and it was Myles Tate who gave App State its first lead since it was 25-23 at the 7:34 mark in the first half. Gregory’s second three extended the lead to five points, which was the largest of the game to that point for App State.

Kitenge answered the run with a layup, but then Jordan Marsh took over, nailing two straight threes to push the Mountaineers ahead by nine and forcing a Bob Marlin timeout. Marsh scored 12 of the 26 points during the Mountaineers’ push to take the lead.

The lead ballooned to double-digits by the 2:47 mark as Abson flushed home a dunk off a feed from Marsh and a Tate jumper pushed the lead to a game-high 13.

Louisiana made a late push to trim the deficit back to single digits, but a long outlet pass from Spillers led to a Marsh dunk and put the finishing touches on the win. Marsh’s 23 points set a new career high and was the first 20-point game of his career.

Eight of nine players who saw the floor on Saturday recorded at least two points. But it was Jordan Marsh who stole the show with his career day. Marsh’s 17 second-half points helped spark the Mountaineers and the Holmes Center when it needed it. Gregory’s 15 points also helped settle the Mountaineers down during cold stretches as he helped get App State back on track on several occasions. Gregory continues to pile up milestones as he now sits in the top 15 of App State’s all-time scoring list. Myles Tate was the third Mountaineer in double-figures with 10 points, but his role as a passer and play-maker played big as he tallied a team-high four assists.

App State hits the road for the final time this season, starting with Old Dominion next Thursday. Thursday’s meeting in Norfolk marks the first of two meetings between the Mountaineers and Monarchs in the next three games. Tipoff from Norfolk, Va., is set for 7 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.