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McNeese State coach Dave Simmons and the Cowboys (3-3) will host rival Louisiana-Lafayette (3-5) in a nonconference game at 7 p.m. Saturday. (Associated Press)

McNeese State coach Dave Simmons and the Cowboys (3-3) will host rival Louisiana-Lafayette (3-5) in a nonconference game at 7 p.m. Saturday. (Associated Press)

Cowboys play host to Cajuns tonight

Last Modified: Friday, December 07, 2012 10:07 PM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

Six games into the college basketball season, it is difficult to tell what kind of team McNeese State has this year.

The Cowboys (3-3) have beaten three non-Division I programs and lost to three stronger programs. They’ll finally get a look at how they size up against someone comparable when old rival Louisiana-Lafayette (3-5) visits at 7 p.m. today.

“That’s when we’ll find out what we really are,” said guard Jeremie Mitchell. “It’s a game we can win, but they have a real good team at the same time. This is going to be a good test.”

The Ragin’ Cajuns are also trying to figure out where they stand. Four of their five losses have come to teams likely to be in the NCAA tournament picture — Boise State (63-57), New Mexico State (79-57), Michigan State (63-60) and Middle Tennessee State (72-58).

“Obviously we’ve got to step up the level of competition,” said McNeese coach Dave Simmons. “That will probably be a measure of where we are. Lafayette’s a good team. They had an opportunity to win at Michigan State. They are a very dangerous basketball team.”

On paper, the Cajuns present the undersized Cowboys a difficult matchup in the form of 6-foot-9, 243-pound forward Shawn Long. The Mississippi State transfer and Morgan City native is averaging 16.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.

However, Simmons said the Cajuns don’t use Long as a back-to-the basket player, which somewhat negates his size advantage offensively.

“They very seldom put him on the block,” Simmons said. “He’s more a face-up guy then back-to-the basket.”

Simmons said guard Elfrid Payton, who missed a shot at the buzzer to bring Michigan State to overtime, is also a dangerous scoring option.

Forward Desharick Guidry has the hot hand for McNeese, going in with three consecutive double-doubles. He is seeking to become the first Cowboy with four straight double-doubles since Anthony Pullard in 1989-90.

Simmons said freshman forward Austin Lewis, who missed the second half of Monday’s win over Texas-Tyler with a sprained ankle, should play tonight, though his minutes might be limited.

ULL easily won last season’s meeting, 78-56, but has lost its last three trips to Lake Charles going back to 2004.

“We’ve been very successful at home and they’ve been very successful at their place (in the rivalry),” Simmons said. “It’ll be a good for both of us. (Bob Marlin) has a lot of young kids just like we do. It’ll be a good measure of whose program is where we want to be at this point in progression.”

NOTES: Marlin’s contract was extended five years through the 2016-17 season on Friday. Marlin is 33-36 in three seasons with the Cajuns. The base salary of $180,000 from the original contract remains unchanged, but the premium benefits of the contract increased from $95,000 to $220,000 a year, giving the contract a guaranteed sum of $400,00 per year.

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