Cowboys play host to Cajuns tonight

By 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.