(KATY, TX) - Southland Conference player of the year Patrick Richard will lead McNeese State into the opening round of the league basketball tournament Wednesday in Katy, TX.
The Cowboys will take on UT San Antonio in the final game of opening day in the tournament that is being staged at the Merrell Center. The Cowboys and the Roadrunners are scheduled to tip things off at 8:30 p.m.
It's been tough going for the Cowboys, now 15-14, since their eight game winning streak was snapped on Feb. 22 by regular season SLC champion UT Arlington. They've lost four in a row including last Saturday's 78-68 defeat at the hands of Lamar in the battle for the league's eastern divison title.
At times the Cowboys have been able to put only seven physically fit bodies on the court and there has been a drain on players having to go 30 or more minutes each game.
Also, during that losing streak the Cowboys played four games over an 11 day span.
"There's no question but that injuries have been a factor," said head coach Dave Simmons. "But, this is a new season. This is a one game season and I feel that we are going to be ready. We have had some good practices the last few days."
There may be some revenge looked for by the Cowboys in Wednesday's outing. UTSA knocked McNeese, the 2010-11 regular season champion, out of a spot in the NCAA tournament by pulling an upset in the championship game last year.
McNeese has already claimed some degree of satisfaction by beating the Roadrunners by a 58-54 score only a couple of weeks ago. In that game Richard had a double double with 16 points and 12 rebounds while Dontae Cannon scored 16 points.
Richard will be the one his teammates will look to as the leader in Wednesday's game. He's been the conference scoring leader all season long and will go into the contest with an 18.2 scoring average and the No. 12 ranking on the all-time McNeese scorers chart.
He's expected to be joined by Cannon at the point (11.1 ppg including 18 in the team's last outing), Jeremie Mitchell at shooting guard (10.7 ppg), freshman Desharick Guidry at forward (10 rebounds in his last game) and Rudy Turner (team's leading rebounder) at the post.
Turner returned from the injured list in the outing with Lamar and pulled off a double double in 27 minutes of playing time.
Other first round games on Wednesday will have Sam Houston State playing Stephen F. Austin at noon, Northwestern State and Lamar meeting at 2:30 p.m. and UT Arlington and Nicholls State going at 6 p.m.