LAKE CHARLES – A 16-home game slate, including contests against Louisiana-Lafayette, Toledo and Central Michigan, highlights the 2014-15 McNeese Cowboys men's basketball schedule.
The Cowboys will play seven of those 16 home games before the Southland Conference season begins. Last year, McNeese had just one home game before league play, and just 10 for the season.
"We're very excited about this schedule," said head coach Dave Simmons. "There's a big difference between playing 16 home games as compared to 10. We have some really good home games that our fans will enjoy watching."
In addition to ULL, Toledo and CMU, the Cowboys will also get back to hosting conference rivals Lamar and Northwestern State, two teams McNeese played only on the road last year.
"This is a competitive schedule," said Simmons. "We get the home game against Toledo which is a return game from the preseason NIT two years ago. They had a great season last year after winning 27 games. Of course we get our old rivalry in ULL to come here and they played in the NCAA Tournament last year."
The Cowboys will open the season on November 14 at Baylor before opening their home season on Nov. 18 against Louisiana College. McNeese will also visit LSU on Nov. 29, at TCU on December 13, and at Mississippi State on Dec. 30.
McNeese is 0-2 all-time against Baylor, having last played Nov. 27, 1999 in a 78-55 loss. This will also be the third meeting ever versus TCU (0-2; last meeting was Nov. 22, 2008 with a 68-64 loss). The matchup against Central Michigan will be the first-ever game between the two.
Following a Nov. 21 home game against Jarvis Christian and a Dec. 3 contest versus Southern-New Orleans, McNeese will host ULL on Saturday, Dec. 6. Toledo will visit Burton Coliseum on Dec. 20 and Central Michigan two days later on Dec. 22.
The Cowboys, who return three full-time starters and another three with starting experience, will open the conference slate on January 3 at home against defending champion Stephen F. Austin.
"We have a senior-laden team with Kevin Hardy, Desharick Guidry and Keelan Garrett, all from Lake Charles, and another in Craig McFerrin," said Simmons. "We wanted these seniors to go out with a great home schedule and with great fan support."
Hardy, the 2013-14 team MVP, is the squad's top returning scorer (11.0 ppg last season) while Guidry led the team in rebounding last season with an 8.0 per game average. Both earned all-conference honorable mention honors last season while Hardy was named the league's Student-Athlete of the Year.
The Southland has adopted a new conference schedule this season, meaning there will only be one day out of the week where the men will play a doubleheader with the women. The men will play their games on Mondays, the women on Thursdays, and a doubleheader on Saturdays.
All home games will be played in Burton Coliseum this year. The final weekend of the season, March 8-9 when McNeese hosts Central Arkansas, the schedule has been adjusted due to the LHSAA Girls Basketball Tournament. The Cowboys will play UCA at 1 p.m. on Sunday while the Cowgirls will play the Sugar Bears at 11 a.m., several hours before the high school championships get underway.
Home conference games on Saturday will carry a 3 p.m. tip-off while the mid-week league games will carry a 7 o'clock start time.
by Matthew Bonnette