McNeese State (13-16) vs. Nicholls State (9-20)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Leonard E. Merrell Center (5,600) -- Katy, Texas. Television: Southland Digital Network. Home Record: McNeese 9-5, Nicholls 5-5. Away Record: McNeese 4-11, Nicholls 4-13. Neutral Record: McNeese 0-0, Nicholls 0-2. Conference Record: McNeese 7-11, Nicholls 8-10. Series Record: McNeese leads, 45-32.
GAME NOTES: After closing out the regular season against each other just four days ago, the McNeese State Cowboys and Nicholls State Colonels head right back out to the hardwood, this time at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas where the stakes are much higher in the 33rd annual Southland Conference Tournament.
McNeese State, which has lost in the tournament title tilt in each of the last two years, is the eighth seed in the 2013 edition. The squad has two tournament titles to its credit, but has not taken home the crown since 2002. Since putting together a five-game winning streak through the middle of December, the Cowboys have won back-to-back outings only once and ended up with a 7-11 mark in league play.
As for the fifth-seeded Colonels, they were beaten up pretty badly by non- conference foes this season, winning only once in 11 tries and that lone victory came against New Orleans in late November. The team showed signs of life in conference play with a mark of 8-10.
Of all the current members of the Southland that have won the tournament title, the Colonels are the ones who are the furthest removed from celebrating, taking the second of their championships back in 1998.
The teams split a pair of regular-season meetings, with both decisions coming down to the waning moments. The Cowboys picked up a 91-88 victory in double- overtime this past Saturday, which means the all-time series now favors McNeese State by a 45-32 margin.
The winner of this meeting will be back on the floor on Thursday evening versus fourth-seeded Southeastern Louisiana in the quarterfinals.
One of the positives for the Cowboys this season is that they were able to keep their starting lineup rather solid, with four players opening all 29 contests. Desharick Guidry was one of them as he led the program in scoring with 12.7 ppg and was also first on the glass with 7.6 rpg, but for someone who was involved in as much of the action as he was, he managed to hand out only 24 assists while turning the ball over 56 times. Dontae Cannon (12.1 ppg) was much more giving with his 94 assists, which was great because his accuracy from the field (.377) and behind the 3-point line (.287) was highly questionable. As someone who could do it all, Kevin Hardy was responsible for 9.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg and team highs with 133 dishes and 65 steals for the program.
Fred Hunter, the leading scorer and rebounder for the Colonels in each of the last three games, paces the team overall in those two departments with 19.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per contest. a 57.7 percent shooter from the floor, Hunter has tried his hand at being a perimeter threat but it really hasn't worked out (.286), not to mention his accuracy at the free-throw line (.670) is also something that could stand some improvement. Dantrell Thomas steps in as the only other double-digit scorer for Nicholls with his 14.0 ppg, but he too has been disappointing on the outside (.175) and because of the pair the team overall has made just 30.7 percent beyond the arc.
With two solid offensive performers on which to lean, the Colonels should be able to take care of business on Wednesday night, especially if they learned anything during their loss to McNeese just days ago.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nicholls State 71, McNeese State 68
03/13 11:11:07 ET