LAKE CHARLES – You may have heard it once before, the broadcast analyst says over the stream, "Those Cowboys just keep coming back, they won't go away." And they're right- the McNeese men's basketball team is the 14-man squad teams are beginning to fear.
Head coach Dave Simmons has guided his team to a 7-10 overall record, 4-3 in conference play after 11 weeks of play.
The Cowboys have already matched last year's win records, with ten more contests to go, and growing stronger and faster with each contest.
Overall, McNeese is averaging 0.6 more rebounds per contest than its opponents (39.5), an increase of 5.8 rpg from 2016-17. The team has a positive rebound margin for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
Earlier this month, the Cowboys traveled to Thibodaux to face now top-tier Nicholls. McNeese went toe-to-toe with the Colonels, giving up a mere 85-80
The Cowboys put up a season high 11 treys, and contested the lead until the 7:18 mark in the second half. McNeese played hard, taking the game into the final minutes, never allowing Nicholls to lead by more than two, until forced fouls gave the Colonels a chance to add some cushion to the score board from the charity stripe.
Nicholls head coach, Richie Riley was aware of the threat McNeese proposes to the league, "I give them credit too. [McNeese] Coach [David] Simmons does a really good job. They have capable shot-makers that make tough ones. When they make shots like that and their inside guys play like that, they're a tough matchup for anybody."
McNeese also struck a cord in Hammond, when it took down then undefeated league leader Southeastern 71-62, on its own court.
The Cowboys held SLU to a season low 16 field-goals in the victory, standing true to being one of the top defensive teams in the conference.
"I have to give McNeese credit. We're not surprised. They are very good basketball team, a very talented team. One of the things we talked to our players about was execution and not settling against them" said Southeastern head coach Jay Ladner.
At the conclusion of Wednesday's conference matchups, McNeese ranked in the top two in five categories: field goal percentage, field goal percentage defense, three point field goal percentage, blocked shots, and defensive rebounds.
Their success doesn't stop in the Southland, with the Cowboys ranking 36th in Division I in rebounds per game, 45th in blocks per game (4.7), and 54th in fewest turnovers.
Opposing teams have stopped overlooking the previously 7-22 Cowboys, and have started preparing for an aggressive match-up that puts everyone on the edge of their seat.
The Cowboys still have a tough schedule ahead of them, visiting Lamar on Saturday and then hosting Sam Houston State on January 30th.
McNeese will visit Northwestern State, Central Arkansas, New Orleans, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi on the road before the season ends. Starting in February, the Cowboys will play host to Stephen F Austin, Southeastern, Nicholls, Houston Baptist, and Lamar.
Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.