Nation’s hottest Cowboys set to face Demons

Published 4:49 pm Sunday, January 28, 2024

Officially now the hottest team in the country, the Cowboys head back to work Monday night.

McNeese State will put their nation-leading 13-game win streak on the line in the Legacy Center against a devilish foe.

The surging Cowboys can equal their record of 14 consecutive victories with a win over rival the Demons of Northwestern State in the Southland Conference rematch. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

Email newsletter signup

Already off to the best start in program history, the 18-2 Cowboys lead the conference race by two games at 7-0. This is the first time the Pokes have ever started league play undefeated after seven games.

The Demons enter the contest 5-15, 3-4 after claiming a share of the league title last season. The two teams met on Jan. 8 when McNeese rallied after struggling early for a 68-59 victory in Natchitoches.

“It will be a quick turnaround,” said Wade. “It was a tough game up there, it will be another tough game here. They are playing better now.”

The Demons are coming off a 79-68 home loss at the hands of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Saturday.

In the first meeting, Shahada Wells led all scorers with 18 points for McNeese while Antavion Collum tossed in 12. Cliff Davis finished with 17 points and six boards for the Demons.

“We have to follow our principals,” Wells said of playing the NW State for the second time in a month. “Whatever we did wrong we have to get it fixed.”

McNeese didn’t do much wrong Saturday in front of a standing-room-only crowd inside the Legacy Center. It was the program’s third sellout in the last four games.

“Our crowd has been great all year,” said Wells. “We love playing here.”

The Pokes improved to 10-0 at home with a powerful 102-65 victory over New Orleans. McNeese will try to continue its run game after outsourcing the Privateers 32-1 on fast-break points.

“We got out and got our transition game going,” said Wells. “That really opened up our offense.”

The 102 points are the most McNeese has scored in a league game since the Cowboys hit 144 in a four-overtime loss at Houston Christian on March 5, 2022. It is their first 100-point game in a victory against a Division I opponent since a 100-80 victory over HCU on Feb. 29, 2020.

“That’s what happens when you get the ball moving from side to side,” said Wade. “You drive the lane if is it’s not there you kick it out. You take quality shots you get a lot of points.”

The Pokes hope to again use the energy of their home crowd, which is averaging the largest outside of LSU in the state.

“They are great,” said guard Omar Cooper. “It means the world to us. Anytime we can play in from of our fans is great.”

One thing Wade is worried about is rebounding. The Cowboys gave up 18 offensive rebounds to the Privateers Saturday, keeping the visitors in the game for the first half.

“You give up 18 offensive rebounds most nights that’s not going to win,” said Wade. “That is not good.”

Wade became the first coach in program history to win his first 10 games. The Cowboys are undefeated since their head coach returned from a 10-game NCAA suspension to start the season. 

With the big win Saturday Wade was able to limit the time of some of his key players.

“Nice to be able to rest some guys, you hope that helps,” said Wade. “We have to take advantage of it though.”