Joe Scott Picks Up Win #100

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Joe Scott never clued his players in to the fact he was closing in on a milestone win.

"Probably didn't want us to have the pressure," freshman Xander McNally said with a grin.

Actually, the Denver coach didn't realize it himself. Scott was surprised to learn he'd earned his 100th career win after the Pioneers beat Louisiana-Lafayette 63-44 on Sunday.

"I knew I was sitting around there, but I stop keeping track as the games become more important," Scott said.

This one definitely fell into the important category. The win helped the Pioneers (11-12, 7-5 Sun Belt Conference) keep a share of the lead with Arkansas-Little Rock in the league's West Division.

"It's a good sign when you can keep getting better in February," Scott said.

The Pioneers keep winning with one of their best players out for the season with a fractured right fibula. The Pioneers are 4-3 without senior David Kummer, who suffered the injury Jan. 13 in a win over Arkansas-Little Rock.

"I'm impressed with these players," Scott said. "You can go one way or the other and our guys are going up. We have a lot of players stepping up and playing well at the same time."

That was the case against the Ragin' Cajuns as five players scored in double figures. Rob Lewis led the way with 12 and Joe Jackson added 11.

"Coach does a good job of making us understand that no matter what happens, we have to do the same things - stay with the plan," said McNally, who set career highs in points (10), rebounds (7) and steals (7) on Sunday. "We understand that his way works."

Scott was hired by the Pioneers last March and the team has quickly adapted to his motion offense. He was 38-45 in three seasons with Princeton and 51-63 during his four-year stint at Air Force.

"It's obvious to everyone who watches us play that our guys know what the plan is," Scott said. "They're good at sticking with the plan."

Louisiana coach Robert Lee used 13 different players in an effort to find a spark on offense. He couldn't find the right combination as the Ragin' Cajuns (10-13, 6-6) were held to a season low offensive output. Their previous low was 51 points against Middle Tennessee on Jan. 31.

"That was just an awful offensive performance," said Lee, whose team shot just 35 percent for the game. "We were just terrible. There's no other way to explain it. We just did not execute anything that we worked on all week - just a horrible performance."

The Cajuns were led in scoring by La'Ryan Gary and Travis Bureau, who each finished with eight points. Elijah Millsap added seven points.

The Pioneers led by as many as 24 points on a 3-pointer by Kyle Lewis with 8:38 remaining in the game, and then cruised from there to their eighth straight win at home.

Rob Lewis could sense the Cajuns' growing frustration.

"It seems like that happens with a lot of teams," Lewis said. "You just hang on to that lead and they get discouraged."

Denver executed Scott's offense to near perfection in the first half, running time off the clock on every possession and then getting easy shots in building a 27-17 lead at halftime. The Cajuns' 17 points was their lowest first-half output of the season.

"About the 10-minute mark of the first half, I sensed we weren't in any rhythm offensively," Lee said. "From that moment, it snowballed."

After the game, McNally was asked about winning Scott his 100th career game.

"We did?" he said with a look of surprise. "He did a good job of hiding that from us. Coach knows what he's doing. It's a good milestone for him."