Brayan Au (41) drives the ball down the court as the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns take on Arkansas State in the Cajundome Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021.

The Men’s Ragin’ Cajuns’ basketball journey to the Sun Belt Championship was stopped by the Georgia State Panthers in what appeared to be an effortless victory for the Panthers. Louisiana not only played badly in this game but also in their first game in the tournament against the South Alabama Jaguars.

Although Louisiana won against South Alabama, the team got off to a rough start. They played well offensively as three of their players scored double- doubles and showed excellent ball movement, but it took near the end of the first half to get a groove defensively. This caused the Jaguars to gain momentum as they achieved an 11-point lead. Switching their defense up allowed the Cajuns to take the lead back and even allow themselves some breathing room. But it was too little too late, and this problem followed them in their next game against Georgia.

The game against Georgia was full of missed opportunities and comebacks too late. The game was full of emotion not only because it was a tournament game, but also because it involved teams who were great in their division. Georgia went 8-4 in conference games and stood at No. 1 in the east division and Louisiana went 10-7 and stood at No. 2 in the west division.

The Cajuns once again made the mistake of letting their opponent get too far ahead in the first half as their momentum was not enough to take the lead in the second. Offensively, the Cajuns played well, but certainly did not capitalize on scoring opportunities and were unable to slow the pace of the game. They played even worse defensively, as they allowed Georgia to lead by 17 at halftime (52-35). The Jaguars did well at playing at a fast pace as they put pressure on the Cajuns, which they appeared to not be expecting. The Cajuns had nine turnovers in the first half.

As mentioned earlier, Louisiana does fix their errors as they tie the game (69-69), but proved too late as they cannot take the lead of their own. After another series of missed opportunities and turnovers, Theo Akwuba fouled out forcing the Cajuns to play even tougher defense in the paint. Ultimately, Georgia knocked out the Ragin’ Cajuns by 11 as they finalized the score with 84-73.

Louisiana’s Sun Belt Conference tournament berth was short-lived and underplayed. They started the tournament in the second seed taking a week off from having a game. With the break, Cajuns became less aggressive, as it took them until the second half of both of their playoff games to gain momentum. With this being said, their momentum was gained once they fixed their defense strategies. As for their offense in the tournament, Cajuns played well as they had many players put up points but could have benefitted from decreasing the number of turnovers and fouls. With all this being said, Cajuns performed well throughout the season and even showed off promising young players such as Ty Harper and Kobe Julien.

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