The Lady Demons tip off the twinbill with a 5:30 p.m. tipoff. The Demons follow with start time listed at 7:30 p.m. The annual Chili Cookoff is expected to draw nearly two dozen competing cooking teams, with fans treated to servings of the chili for as long as it lasts.
The NSU teams will play again Feb. 1 against another new league foe, Abilene Christian, with the women’s contest beginning at 1 p.m. and the men following at 3 p.m. The two new members are transitioning from Division II to Division I membership. The outcomes of their games count in the Southland Conference standings, but neither UIW or ACU can compete in the postseason conference tournaments because they are not eligible yet for the NCAA Division I championships since they have student-athletes on their rosters who were recruited under less stringent Division II academic requirements.
The Demons (7-11, 3-4 Southland) took big steps back into the thick of the Southland race last week with road wins at Central Arkansas (76-68) and Oral Roberts (87-83). They face a key test from an Incarnate Word team that has demonstrated it’s highly competitive in the conference ranks.
UIW (16-3, 4-2) played a soft non-conference schedule with only one Division I foe, but is just six points shy of being unbeaten in the league, losing its opener 76-72 at Southeastern Louisiana and falling on a late basket 79-77 at home to Oral Roberts.
Junior guard Denzel Livingston won Southland Player of the Week honors after averaging 24 points, six rebounds and six steals in the last two wins. He and Demons sophomore point guard Jalan West are 2-3 in the the league in scoring (19.3 average for Livingston, 19.0 for West), are first (West at 5.9) and fifth (Livingston at 4.32) in assists per game, and are 1-2 in steals per game (2.58 for Livingston, 2.56 by West).
The teams rank 1-2 in the Southland in scoring (87.1 for the Demons, 84.5 for the Cardinals). Northwestern has three of the league’s top 11 point producers, with senior forward DeQuan Hicks fifth (16.2) and freshman guard Zeek Woodley 11th (14.6).
The women’s matchup Thursday night pits teams hoping to climb as the middle of the 18-game league race nears its midpoint.
After faltering in the second half in losses last week at UCA and ORU, the Lady Demons (10-9, 3-4 SLC) sit in 10th place, a half-game ahead of UIW (8-10, 2-4), 12th in the Southland.
Keisha Lee leads Northwestern in scoring at 15.4 points per game. She scored just under half of the team’s points against Oral Roberts with 25 of NSU’s 51 points.
As a team, NSU averages 63.4 and allows 64.7 points a game. The Cardinals average 61.7 points and give up 65.3 a contest.
UIW’s leading scorer is Rose Whitehead (14.2 ppg) and in rebounds by Ifunanya More (7.4 rpg).
Saturday, Abilene Christian brings a strong women’s team (12-8, 3-2 Southland) and an injury-racked but fast-paced men’s team (7-13 overall, 1-5) into Prather Coliseum.