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McNeese State head men's basketball coach Dave Simmons. (Associated Press)<br>

McNeese State head men's basketball coach Dave Simmons. (Associated Press)

Struggling Cowboys host Demons Sunday afternoon

Last Modified: Saturday, February 02, 2013 9:54 PM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

Here’s a sentence you never see anymore: The Cowboys are playing on Super Bowl Sunday.

That would be the McNeese State version, of course, which hosts Northwestern State at 4:30 p.m. in the Lake Charles Civic Center.

The second half of the game will directly conflict with the Super Bowl, which is an inconvenience to many sports fans. However, coach Dave Simmons said the combination of the rodeo at Burton Coliseum, a Saturday night Mardi Gras ball at the Civic Center and being televised by Comcast Sports Houston made any other time impossible.

“That’s the only date that both teams could actually play on,” Simmons said. “Obviously we’d want it up earlier, but with a television game we can’t dictate the start time. With the BracketBuster game (on Feb. 23), this is the date that works the best for them and for us, so that’s what happened.”

Granted, if McNeese (8-11, 2-7 Southland) reprises its first-half offensive performance against Stephen F. Austin, getting lost in the Super Bowl shuffle might not be the worst thing in the world.

The Cowboys scored nine points in the first 20 minutes against the Lumberjacks, prompting Simmons to skip over that section of video as if it were a Nixon Oval Office recording. McNeese got within 10 in the second half before falling 59-39.

“We looked at all the positive things. We showed them the first 10 minutes of the second half where we cut it down to nine points,” Simmons said. “That’s where the positive instruction was. We know we didn’t perform very well. We’re not going to get anywhere dwelling on that part of it.”

No Cowboy scored in double figures against SFA, the first time that had happened since a 56-45 loss to Nicholls State on Jan. 28, 2009 — a span of 126 games.

The Cowboys are intent on doing something positive against the Demons, who enter the game with the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense at 83.7 points per game. Northwestern State (13-6, 7-2) beat McNeese 78-63 in Natchitoches on Jan. 3.

Simmons hopes to get early production from shooting guard Jeremie Mitchell, who has to take up more of the scoring load since Ledrick Eackles departed from the team earlier in the week.

Mitchell said the Cowboys have struggled with confidence during a three-game losing streak that started with an agonizing triple-overtime loss at Central Arkansas.

“Really all this is right now is everyone is doubting themselves, doubting what coach is saying,” Mitchell said. “We need a couple wins — or just a win, period — to get us confident in knowing what we can do. Right now we’re losing so much, we’re not sure about what we’re doing. That (UCA) game was the icing on the cake. It hurt big-time.”

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