Cowboys open play against UNO at Southland Tip-Off event

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 2:28 PM CST
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KATY, TX - McNeese will open up the 2022 year at the Southland Tip-Off Event on Thursday against New Orleans.

Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the Merrell Center in Katy, the site of the league postseason tournament. The game will broadcast live on ESPN+.

McNeese (4-9) closed out the 2021 calendar year by beating Ecclesia College 115-66 on December 30 in its final scheduled game in Burton Coliseum. The Cowboys had three players score 20 points or more each for the first time this season - Myles Lewis and Christian Shumate with 21 each and Kellon Taylor with 20. Three players also missed the game due to COVID protocols - starters Brendan Medley-Bacon and Trae English along with full-time player Johnathan Massie.

The Cowboys aren’t quite 100 percent for this week with one scholarship player out due to the virus protocols.

“We’re healthy in terms of injury,” said head coach John Aiken. “We have one scholarship player and two support staff in the protocol. For the most part, we’re fairly healthy.”

McNeese was picked fifth in the preseason poll while New Orleans was tabbed for a second place finish.

“One of our goals coming into the fall was to win the Tip-Off Tournament,” said Aiken. “And then you obviously prepare yourself for the regular season conference games with the goal of winning a championship there. Ultimately it’s about the tournament in March.

“I want to see us to continue to play well. I want to see continued execution and offensively get better. I thought after the UL game from December 9 until today, we’ve gotten a lot better from offensive execution standpoint and just wanting to continue to see guys continuing to buy into change, I made some changes after the LSU game and we didn’t really get to work on it until after the UL game. And so just watching guys buy in to the change in their roles have led to great practices.

“We obviously had a great game last week. And so just seeing some of that continue to translate and then continue to get to know each other and play well together.”

New Orleans has had the Cowboys’ number the last few years, winning 10 of the last 12 meetings and eight out of nine.

“New Orleans has been one of the better teams in the league for a while,” said Aiken. “To me, they’re the epitome of what the Southland is about. They’re big and physical. They’re very defensive oriented and they rebound.”

McNeese will enter the tourney ranked No. 4 in the Southland in scoring (74.1 ppg) while UNO is sixth (72.4). The Privateers are fourth in scoring defense (72.0) while the Cowboys are fifth (74.8).

The Cowboys are No. 2 in rebounding (39.2) while UNO is fifth at 36.3 boards per game.

Individually, UNO’s Derek St. Hilaire is second in the league in scoring with an 18.2 average while teammate Troy Green is ranked eighth at 12.6 per game.

McNeese is led by Lewis with an 11.0 mark to rank 15th in the conference and Medley-Bacon is 17th with an 11.0 scoring mark. Medley-Bacon is sixth in the conference with 6.3 rebounds per game and is third with 1.3 blocked shots per contest.

The teams will meet twice in the conference season - Jan. 30 at McNeese and Feb. 19 at New Orleans.

The winner of Thursday’s game will play the winner of the HBU/Southeastern contest at 5 p.m. on Friday while the two losers will play at 11 a.m.

The tournament will continue through Saturday with the championship game being played at 7:30.

Southland Tip-Off Event Schedule

Thursday, Jan. 6

Game 1: HBU vs. Southeastern, 11 a.m.

Game 2: McNeese vs. New Orleans, 1:30 p.m.

Game 3: Northwestern State vs. A&M-Corpus Christi, 5 p.m.

Game 4: UIW vs. Nicholls, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 7

Game 5: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, 11 a.m.

Game 6: Game 3 Loser vs. Game 4 Loser, 1:30 p.m.

Game 7: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 5 p.m.

Game 8: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 8

Game 5 Loser vs. Game 6 Loser, 11 a.m.

Game 7 Loser vs. Game 8 Loser, 1:30 p.m.

Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner 5 p.m.

Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner, 7:30 p.m.

All games on ESPN+

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