By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
TRAVIS Munnings was pegged as a Preseason All-Sun Belt Third Team and his early season numbers have lived up to those expectations thus far.
The junior forward had a career game over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with a career high 31 points in a 104-46 victory for his Louisiana Munroe Warhawks over NAIA Division I Independent Rust College.
Munnings shot 14-18 from the field, including 3-4 from three-point range and also added nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.
The 58-point margin of victory was the third largest in school history.
"I thought this was a good comeback game after a very disappointing performance last week by our team against Northwestern State (76-61 loss)," ULM head coach Keith Richard said. "Obviously, the competition wasn't as good today, but we didn't need it to be to work on some things that were a problem for us last week. We needed to play with a sense of urgency, play harder and play more aggressively. We also wanted to play with a bigger lineup and we did a little bit of that today as well."
Through six games this season, Munnings is averaging 15.3 points, six rebounds and two assists per outing. His offensive output has been more efficient, shooting 55 percent from the field and 50 percent from three point range.
The Warhawks finished last in the Sun Belt a season ago, but Munnings' development was a bright spot in a difficult season. He raised his scoring average by five points and became the go-to-player for ULM. As a freshman, the 6'6″ forward averaged 7.2 points and 5.4 rebounds and increased those numbers to 13.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore, shooting 44 percent from the field and 34 percent from three. Munnings also showed more confidence in his three-point shot, after 15 made threes in his freshman season increased to 51 as a sophomore.
His rebounding numbers ranked third in the conference while his scoring numbers were 19th. Munnings led the Warhawks in scoring in 11 games and rebounding on 21 occasions. His 69 offensive rebounds also led the team. He also finished second on the team in 3-point field goals made (51), assists (67), steals (27) and minutes played (33.7 per game). He reached double figures in scoring in 26 games. Munnings closed out the regular season by scoring in double digits in 13-straight games and his previous career-high was 22 points at Little Rock. He also posted double-figure rebounds in 10 games, including a career-high 13 boards on three occasions with seven double-doubles.
Munnings followed Sunday's career best effort with 14 points and eight rebounds Tuesday night in a 65-52 win over Jackson. He shot 5-10 from the field and 3-5 from three point range.
"I'm really proud of my team, especially on the defensive end of the floor," ULM head coach Richard said. "Defense and rebounding were points of emphasis for us heading into this game, and our guys responded to the challenge. I really felt like we played solid defense the whole game. I thought our guys played really hard and really tough too. We were worried about Jackson State's offensive rebounding, so we played our bigger, stronger guys longer minutes. Our guys played with great effort the entire game."
ULM returns to action Saturday, December 2 at Stephen F. Austin, with tipoff set for 3:30 pm at WRJ Coliseum in Nacogdoches, Texas.
A school-record 16 home games highlight the ULM men's basketball schedule this season.
The schedule features 11 games against opponents that appeared in the 2017 postseason, including three NCAA Tournament. In total, ULM will play 15 games against opponents that won 20 or more games last season.
"We're still trying to figure out our playing rotation," Richard said. "We're still searching for an identity, but that's what the non-conference schedule is for. You learn a lot about your team during November and December, and hopefully, you win some games along the way."