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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Leonard E. Merrell Center (5,600) -- Katy, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: McNeese State 9-5, Southeastern Louisiana 9-3. Away Record: McNeese State 4-11, Southeastern Louisiana 3-14. Neutral Record: McNeese State 1-0, Southeastern Louisiana 0-0. Conference Record: McNeese State 7-11, Southeastern Louisiana 10-8. Series Record: McNeese State leads, 59-40.
GAMES NOTES: As they try to make it to the title game for the third straight season the eighth-seed McNeese State Cowboys will face fourth-seed Southeastern Louisiana Lions in the quarterfinals of the Southland Conference Tournament at the Leonard E. Merrell Center.
McNeese State surprised Nicholls with a 62-59 win in the first round Wednesday night. It was the second-straight win for the Cowboys against Nicholls who they also faced in the regular0season finale. The Cowboys have been in the tournament finals in each of the last two seasons but came up short both times.
Southeastern Louisiana grabbed wins in its last two games of the regular season to secure the fourth seed and a bye through the first round. The Lions 10-8 mark in league action made them just one of four teams in the league to have a record above .500 against the rest of the conference but they were just 12-17 overall.
If history has anything to say about this contest McNeese is in good shape as it has a 59-40 edge in the all-time series. During this campaign the teams split their two meetings with the home team coming out on top each time.
The winner will move into Friday's semifinal round against top-seed Stephen F. Austin.
It was a tightly contested matchup between McNeese State and Nicholls but the Cowboys pulled away near the end thanks to Dontae Cannon who scored eight of his game-high 23 points in the last three minutes. Kevin Hardy was the only other player in double figures with 11 points though he needed 11 shots to do so.
In comparison to the rest of the Southland the Cowboys were near the middle of the league in terms of offensive production. The Cowboys ranked fifth in points per game (66.3 pg) while fitting in sixth in field goal percentage (.417). The Cowboys then allow 69.6 points per game on the defensive end. Cannon (12.4 ppg, 3.2 apg) has been playing well during the end of the season as he scored in double figures in four of the last five games while reaching the 20-point plateau in each of the last two contests. Desharick Guidry (12.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg) is the only other consistent double figure scorer as well as the team's best rebounder.
The Lions have been off since the regular season finale on Saturday when they rolled to an 86-72 victory over Lamar. Brandon Fortenberry poured in a game- high 24 points in the contest as the Lions led by as many as 19 points. Getting the ball inside was a major factor as the Lions outscored the Cardinals, 38-22, in the paint.
Of the teams in the conference to make the postseason the Lions are the worst offensively. They score only 62.9 points per game while shooting at a 40.5 percent clip from the field. They have also not been all that impressive defensively either as they allow 68.3 points per game. Fortenberry (14.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg) shoots just above 40 percent from the field and is one of only two double figure scorers on the roster. Roosevelt Johnson (10.6 pp, 8.3 rpg) is another strong contributor in the frontcourt but he has scored in double figures just twice in the last eight games.
Though McNeese State is the stronger offensive team in this bout the Cowboys lack of ability on the defensive end could come back to bite them.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southeastern Louisiana 68, McNeese State 63
03/14 10:32:08 ET
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