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Sophomore Slump?

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: December 08, 2003
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Dec. 8, 2003

When you are 6 feet 9 inches, you're going to stand out. But when you put up numbers like Old Dominion forward Alex Loughton did against Charlotte, you're not only standing out, you're making noise.

The sophomore from Perth, Australia had a career night Saturday, scoring 45 points, grabbing 15 rebounds, and dishing out 6 assists in the Monarchs 105-102 double overtime loss to Charlotte. All were career highs.

Loughton's 45 points Saturday smashed his previous career high of 24 points against no. 13 Saint Joseph's on November 29. His 45 points are tied for second most in Colonial Athletic Association history and are also an ODU Division I school record.

"Loughton had the best performance against a team I've ever coached or assisted," said Charlotte head coach Bobby Lutz. "I'm also including Clemson when I coached against Len Bias. Alex was special."

Even though Loughton's night was filled with personal feats, he prefers to focus on the team's outcome.

"The game was what it was. I did score a lot, but my goals are team oriented. We didn't get the win, so I'm disappointed about that."

Loughton was named Colonial Athletic Player of the Week after averaging 23 points 9.5 rebounds and leading the Monarchs to a 1-1 record, the win coming in another overtime thriller against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

"It's not going to my head, 'I'm not the big man on campus.' As a team, we still have a long way to go, but we definitely have something to build on."

Strength and defense are two areas that Loughton has improved. Loughton, who was listed at 235 pounds last season, gained 15 pounds during the off-season. The extra bulk has allowed him to play more physical and control the boards.

"During the summer, I didn't have much to do instead of eat and sleep, so I hit the weights. I tried hard to bulk up on court strength," he said. "I feel the difference. I can create a open shot while pounding it in the paint. I definitely feel the difference."

Loughton is averaging a conference best 22.5 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game while hitting 75 percent (6 of 8) of his 3-pointers through Old Dominion's first four games.

Loughton, who was 1 for 6 from behind the arc last season, was 5 for 5 from 3-point land Saturday night.

"I've gotten a lot of confidence shooting the ball this year" he said. "In the game, the ball was dropping. I definitely had the fire in my eyes, and I wanted to shoot it. I wanted to help the team out. It dropped and it was a great feeling."

The Monarchs, who were picked to finished sixth in CAA preseason polls, lead the league in scoring at 83 points per game, but they are last in the conference in team defense, surrendering over 90 points a game. Loughton knows that defense will be the key to success for the Monarchs this season.

"If we can work on defense-get one or two more crucial stops-that will be the big difference," he said. "We can score with anyone in the league, but we really need to aggressive on defense and make the dagger play on the other end of the floor. Then we'll see a lot more wins."

Now, the biggest challenge he faces may be off the court. The business major shifts his focus from basketball to the classroom as he tries to knock out five exams.

"It's going to be a big sigh of relief when exams are over," he said. "But everyone in the NCAA is in the same boat academically. It's always going to hectic, but it's a lot of fun. That's what keeps us going everyday."

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