The classic matchup of the highest-scoring team in NCAA Division I (the Demons, 85 points per game) against the nation’s best defense (the Lumberjacks, 49.4 points allowed per game) has CBS Sports, ESPN and newspaper and online writers and other broadcasters taking notice.
Tip is 3 p.m. Saturday in Prather Coliseum following a 1 p.m. women’s contest between NSU (11-6 overall, 5-2 in the Southland Conference) and SFA (16-1, 7-0). SFA has the nation’s fourth-best winning streak (11 games) and is one of only five teams nationally with just one loss, at Texas A&M.
The NSU-SFA series has always been entertaining and intense but never to this level. Demons’ coach Mike McConathy says the fact that the teams top the country in scoring and scoring defense makes for a unique matchup, one that basketball experts around the country believe to be the first of its kind in recent memory, at least.
“We have to do what we do and do it well, and take them out of some things they want to do. We’ve got to run into everything we do offensively and defensively we’ve got to be the aggressor, and force the isues.
“SFA is having a phenomenal year. They are incredible executing their offense. Their defense is the best in the country, but they are remarkable in how efficient and effective they are with the basketball,” said McConathy.
Since the game’s pace is obviously pivotal, McConathy will be happy with each point scored until the closing moments, when he hopes the tempo has been fast enough to put Northwestern on top. Over the past three seasons, the Lumberjacks have not allowed 70 points in a game.
It’s the first meeting in the rivalry since the final regular-season game last year, won by SFA in Nacogdoches but overshadowed by the tragic news received a half-hour after the game as the Demons were preparing to board the bus back home. The sudden death of the infant twin sons of 2012 senior William Mosley stunned the NSU contingent, and prompted a caring reaction that continues to profoundly impact McConathy and the Demon basketball family.