The Demons (7-4 overall, 1-0 in the Southland Conference) take on the visiting Cardinals (2-11, 0-1) in a 3 p.m. matchup that is the second half of a league doubleheader starting with the women’s matchup at 1.
Northwestern dumped McNeese Thursday night at Prather Coliseum 78-63 while Lamar was whipped 79-43 at Stephen F. Austin in the conference openers for all teams.
The Cardinals have played only one home game, winning it against Long Island. Their other victory came in a tournament over IUPUI. Otherwise, coach Pat Knight, the son of Basketball Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight, has taken his young team to games at Kansas State, Charlotte, Virginia, Alabama, Purdue and Baylor. Lamar lost all five starters from last year’s Southland Tournament championship team which earned the league’s automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
“Pat Knight did a great job getting Lamar into the NCAA Tournament last year. He’s a good guy and a very good basketball coach who is trying to bring along a brand-new roster by putting the team into some challenging road games to get them tough for conference play,” said 14th-year Demon coach Mike McConathy. “We also know that SFA is playing great basketball. So nothing that has happened before we take the floor Saturday has any real bearing.
“That said, the veterans on our team and our fans remember how painful it was to have our season ended by Lamar last March. They earned the win and we don’t resent them for it, but as competitors, it still stings and here’s our next opportunity to make amends as best we can,” he said. “It truly comes down to our team continuing to commit to playing extremely hard for 40 minutes, defending aggressively, making good decisions with the ball, and protecting our home court.”
NSU is 6-0 in Prather Coliseum this season and 30-6 in the last three years at home.
The Demons are averaging 84.6 points per game, fourth best in the country. Four players are in double figures and five have scored at least 20 points at least once this season. DeQuan Hicks tops the scoring chart at 13.7, followed by Jalan West (13.3), Shamir Davis (12.9) and James Hulbin (11.1). Brison White scored 20 against McNeese to raise his season average to 8.8.
After Saturday afternoon’s game, Northwestern plays on the road three times next week: Monday night at Sam Houston State, Thursday night at Oral Roberts and Saturday afternoon at Central Arkansas. The next home game is Thursday, Jan. 17 against Nicholls.