Cajuns scoring-leader Gant questionable vs. McNeese, gets X-rays on wrist, tailbone
Injured on Saturday night against Louisiana Tech, senior forward JaKeenan Gant — UL’s leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker — had X-rays on both his wrist and tailbone following a hard fall early in a lopsided loss to the Bulldogs.
But Gant has not yet been ruled in or out for Tuesday night’s non-conference game at McNeese, Ragin’ Cajuns coach Bob Marlin said Monday.
Gant was injured while blocking a shot two-and-a-half minutes into the game. He would up logging just 14 total minutes, less than half his average of 29.8 per game, and was scoreless on the night.
More:Gant injury, Louisiana Tech's 3-pointers doom Cajuns
Marlin said Gant couldn’t “play to the level that he needs to” when he returned after getting hurt and called that “a big blow.”
That was especially so during a second half in which Louisiana Tech extended its lead from 4 to 21 in an eventual 83-62 victory.
Marlin said Gant had a “sore” wrist and “sore” tailbone, and that he’s questionable for 7-4 UL’s Cox Sports Television game against the 3-7 Southland Conference-member Cowboys.
More:Marlin wants his Cajuns to be 'a little more accountable'
“He had treatment (Sunday) for a couple hours,” Marlin said prior to practice Monday.
UL has just one non-conference game remaining after Tuesday night — Dec. 29 at Southeastern Louisiana of the Southland — then opens Sun Belt Conference play on Jan. 3 at home against Arkansas State.
Having Gant ready for the start of league play is the highest priority for Marlin, whose Cajuns saw their five-game overall win streak — and 31-game non-conference home win streak — come to a close against Louisiana Tech.
“If he can go (Tuesday) then he’ll go,” Marlin said. “If he can’t, then we’ll hold him.
“We’ll just have to see how the rehab comes out. But I think long-term he is gonna be fine, for sure, with some rest.
“He’s obviously awful sore,” Marlin added. “And it was a disappointing for him too, personally, because his mother (La’Kenia Gant) was here — the first time she had been here to Lafayette to watch him play.”
More:Davis, Cajuns light up scoreboard in blowout
Gant, who spent his first two seasons at Missouri before transferring to UL and sitting out a season, is from Springfield, Georgia, where he played at Effingham County High.
Marlin didn’t reveal who would absorb Gant’s minutes if he’s unable to go in Lake Charles, but suggested the Cajuns must figure some things whether he’s available or not.
“They’re not gonna cancel the game,” he said.
“We certainly have to go play, and adjust, and see what happens, and see if can get JaKeenan back.
“If he doesn’t (play),” Marlin added, “it certainly takes a little bit of wind out of your sail. … Hopefully we’ll get him back.”
Gant averages 16.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game, and his presence both around the basket and on the boards in the second half against Louisiana Tech was missed.
More:Cajuns hope to stay hot in Tech rivalry
It could more of the same if he sits for a game.
That's because McNeese State may have more size than UL, especially without Gant, and the Cajuns will have to address accordingly if need be.
UL’s second-leading rebounder is Justin Miller, who averages 7.0 per game. He had a team-high 10 boards against the Bulldogs, but none in the second half.
Miller also has just one block on the season, and no one besides Gant — whose 35 overall rank as third-most in the country — has more than three.
“Not having (Gant) to protect the rim is an issue,” Marlin said.
“But we have to rebound better as a team, we have to play better team defense and certainly have to make up for his absence.”
Cajuns freshman Kristian Lafayette, who has appeared in three games this season, needed five stitches to close a close a cut after taking an elbow to the face from teammate R.J. Gladney during practice Sunday, Marlin said. … UL point guard Marcus Stroman ranks second in the nation in total assists with 78 over 11 games. … Tuesday will mark UL’s first visit to McNeese’s new H&HP Complex, a $40 million project that includes a 4,200-seat arena which opened earlier this season. McNeese’s only three wins this season have come in the building. … Calling Tuesday’s game for CST will be former New Orleans Pelicans play-by-play announcer Bob Licht, with ex-New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister handling color and former University of Texas swimmer Smacker Miles reporting. … The inaugural episode of "Inside Louisiana Basketball" airs at 6 p.m. Tuesday on Cox Sports Television. The 30-minute show, hosted UL graduate Krista Toussant, will air weekly during the rest of the season and also can be seen on the Ragin’ Cajuns YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/ragincajunsvideo.
More:UL point asked to protect the ball
RAGIN’ CAJUNS BASKETBALL
UL (7-4) at MCNEESE STATE (3-7)
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: H&HP Complex (4,200), Lake Charles
RADIO: KHXT 107.9 FM and KPEL 1420 AM with Jay Walker (play-by-play) and Ross Cook (color)
TV: Cox Sports Television (CST) with former New Orleans Pelicans play-by-play announcer Bob Licht, ex-New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister (color) and former University of Texas swimmer Smacker Miles (reporting); streaming on ESPN+ outside of the CST viewing area
UL LEADERS: JaKeenan Gant, 16.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.2 bpg; Malik Marquetti, 13.5 ppg; Marcus Stroman, 12.0 ppg, 7.1 apg; Justin Miller, 10.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg