HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Elfrid Payton scored 20 points, leading four Louisiana-Lafayette players in double figures, and the Ragin' Cajuns pulled away in the second half for a 74-55 victory over North Texas Friday night in the opening round of the Sun Belt tournament.
Bryant Mbamalu scored 16 points -- 14 in the second half -- and Alan-Michael Thompson also scored 16. Shawn Long had 12 points and 11 rebounds for ULL (13-19), the tournament's No. 8 seed. The Ragin' Cajuns will play Sun Belt regular-season champion Middle Tennessee on Saturday in the quarterfinals.Louisiana-Lafayette led 33-29 at halftime, then outscored North Texas 13-3 after the break and stayed in control after that.Jordan Williams led the Mean Green (12-20) with 19 points. Roger Franklin scored 13 and Tony Mitchell had 10 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.Louisiana-Lafayette also won both regular-season meetings.