LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The McNeese men's basketball team claimed victory Tuesday night in an 84-68 rout of Texas College. The Cowboys advance to 3-7 on the season and begin preparing for Southland conference play on December 28th when they host Incarnate Word.
McNeese led for the entire game after Jarren Greenwood put up the first basket of the night only 37 seconds into the game. From there, the Cowboys jumped out to a 6-0 lead before allowing the Steers their first basket of the night at the 17:13 mark.
The Cowboys earned all five of their blocks in the first half, with LaBarrius Hill leading the way. The senior out of Parrish, Alabama now has 14 blocks on the season, six more than he had after nine games in 2016-17.
"LaBarrius played a tremendous first half, his blocks were a huge part of why we were able to get such a lead in the first place- he kept Texas College from getting to the basket" head coach Dave Simmonssaid.
McNeese built a 17-point lead in the first half, before the Steers took advantage of a combination of turnovers and missed shots by the Cowboys to bring the game within four point with 8:44 to play before halftime.
Headed into the locker room, the Cowboys would have a solid 44-29 lead over Texas College. McNeese was shooting a mere 34.2% from the field and 23.1% from beyond the arc.
"We are working on finding the balance inside and out and these types of games, at home, help us do that" Simmons commented.
The second half was no different for the Cowboys, who with tonight's win stay undefeated at home.
McNeese returned to the court taking less shots, increase their efficiency without sacrificing the lead. In fact, the Cowboys improved nine percent from the field and over five percent from beyond the arc in the second half.
The Cowboys would lead by as many as 23 points in the second half, after Greenwood failed to make a layup, but rebounded his own shot and tipped it in at the 5:25 mark.
Transfer Quatarrius Wilson paved the way for McNeese, scoring 16 points and earning 13 boards, for his third double-double of the season. Wilson was joined on the double-digit scoring list with Kalob Ledoux (14), Hill (13), and James Harvey (12).
In addition to Wilson's 13 rebounds, the Cowboys had five others with five or more in the contest. They would combine for a total of 54 in the win, only second to the 61 posted by McNeese versus SUNO last month. McNeese has out-rebounded six out of ten opponents this year.
"This really helps get our confidence up before conference play. LaBarrius Hill was a huge help on the glass, blocking shots and pulling down rebounds. I think we'll be good together when we start conference" Wilson said.
The Cowboys continue to shoot well from the free throw line, hitting 23 of 28 attempts tonight.
"After going 10-20 at Pitt, it's nice to be seeing such success at the line. Hopefully it's not just something we can achieve at home, but something we can translate to our road games" Simmons said.
After back-to-back games with less than ten turnovers, McNeese committed 19 miscues in the win- forcing 16 from the Steers.
"A few times we built a good lead and lost focus, and it showed when we gave up turnovers and easy drives. All those turnovers were mental, and I told the guys that- tonight would be a mental game" Simmons said.
The Steers had three in the double-digits in the mid-week game, Patrick Petty (20), James Martin (17), and Nathaniel Francis (10) all made great attempts and making a dent in the point deficit.
McNeese will break for the holidays, but will return to Burton Coliseum to open up SLC play on December 28th. The Cowboys will host Incarnate word at 6:30PM.
Stephen Ugochukwu did not play against Texas College, as he is recovering from general sickness, but is expected to return to play for the Cowboys against UIW.