LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - McNeese Cowboys basketball appears to be peaking at just the right time.
The Cowboys (10-11, 4-8 SLC), winners of three of their last four games, will host first place Nicholls (16-6, 13-2) at 6:30 on Thursday night and will wrap up their regular season on Saturday at 4 against Lamar (7-17, 5-10).
McNeese can clinch a spot in next week’s Southland Conference Tournament before even hitting the floor on Thursday. For that to happen, a loss by HBU (4-17, 3-10 SLC) to Incarnate Word (8-11, 5-7) or UCA (4-18, 3-11) losing to Southeastern Louisiana (7-15, 5-8) on Wednesday night will get the Cowboys’ ticket punched.
The league has done away with the traditional won-loss way of determining seeds, and instead has adopted a point system where a win gets you three points and a no-contest game will be one point. This is due to the abundance of games that will not be made up after being canceled due to the COVID virus.
In addition, the conference has expanded the tournament field from eight to 10 teams and will now begin with opening round games on Tuesday.
The Cowboys have currently acquired 14 points with the possibility of adding six more with wins on Thursday and Saturday. Twenty total points could get them a No. 6 seed in the tournament and an opening round bye.
“It’ll be tough,” said head coach Heath Schroyer about facing the next two opponents. “Nicholls is playing for at least a piece of a championship and are probably the most talented team in our league. We’re going to have to play extremely well but I do like the way we are trending having won three out of four.
“Our chemistry is better. Defensively, we’ve gotten better and guys are getting used to playing with each other. We’re finally healthy. The last couple of weeks, outside of the Northwestern State game when AJ missed because of an injured ankle, we’ve had some continuity within our practices and our lineup and that has really helped us.”
The Cowboys dropped a 76-69 decision at Nicholls back on January 27 in what was probably the best all-around played game by the Cowboys this season until an 85-58 win over HBU this past Saturday.
In that game, McNeese swiped away 11 balls for its most steals in conference play while holding the Huskies to just 33 percent shooting, also a conference-low.
For the season, the Cowboys continue to lead the league in scoring offense with an 82.9 scoring average and are scoring 90 points a game the last two outings.
Individually, KeyShawn Feazell tops the team in both scoring (13.8) and rebounding (10.3) where he also leads the league and ranks 13th in the nation. Expected to join Feazell in the starting lineup will be Dru Kuxhausen (12.6 ppg), A.J. Lawson (12.5 ppg, league-high 5.5 assists per game), Carlos Rosario (11.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg), and Collin Warren (8.3 ppg).
The Colonels are led in scoring by Ty Gordon’s 14.8 scoring average, ranking him 11th in the league. Gordon sank 24 points against the Cowboys in the first meeting in Thibodaux.