Cowboys host Louisiana Tech tonight in Civic Center

Lake Area Louisiana Tech alums won’t be able to see their school in a bowl game this month, but at least they can catch a glimpse of the Bulldogs basketball team when it visits McNeese tonight at the Lake Charles Civic Center.

It will be a throwback setting, as the downtown arena played host to many a memorable McNeese-Tech tilt when they were conference rivals. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

“It is an old matchup going back to their days in the Southland Conference,” said McNeese coach Dave Simmons, who was also a Louisiana Tech Hall of Fame player. “It’s always a good opponent, and they are very good this year. It’s another step up. As their record indicates, they are better than the team we beat on Saturday. We need to be up to that challenge.”

The Bulldogs (8-2) are off to a strong start, with their losses coming at Texas A&M and Northwestern State. They have beaten Southeast Missouri, which handed McNeese (4-3) one of its three losses.

Tech is led by sophomore guard Raheem Appelby, who is averaging 19.2 points per game. That average went down when he was limited to eight points in Tech’s 65-55 win over Southern Mississippi on Saturday.

“We’ve faced some good guards, and Appelby is a very good, high-scoring guard,” Simmons said. “We have to make him work for his shots. And they’re not only Appelby. They’ve got some good players.”

McNeese forward Desharick Guidry will be looking for his fifth consecutive double-double. He is averaging 12.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. The Cowboys are trying to sweep a four-game homestand before heading to Texas Tech this weekend.

Simmons said he anticipates having three players in uniform for the first time the season — forward Craig McFerrin and guard Ledrick Eackles, who were academically ineligible for the first semester, and guard Keelan Garrett who, because of NCAA rules, had to sit out a year after transferring from Nicholls State. All have had to sit out the first semester.

Those three players will have to work themselves into a rotation that has begun to jell after a slow start.

“You’ve got to make sure chemistry is going in the right direction. Guys who have been playing well, you want to continue playing well,” Simmons said. “We’ve got to bring these guys in slowly and hopefully the pieces fit where you can continue success. It’s almost like starting over. Even though they’ve been able to practice, they haven’t been in when the lights are on.”