Wade’s Cowboys will play Bulldogs next season

Published 4:33 pm Thursday, April 18, 2024

Coming off their record-setting season, the Cowboys were looking to upgrade their non-conference schedule.

It has not been easy since they improved their program under head coach Will Wade.

However, McNeese State seems to have gotten a bit of help from an SEC team.

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McNeese officials confirmed that the Cowboys will play Mississippi State in a game that will be played at a natural site. Made for March, an internet site, first reported Thursday the game will be played on December 14 at Cadence Bank Arena in Tupelo, Mississippi.

“We are looking to upgrade our schedule for sure,” Wade said earlier this month. “We have been calling everybody trying to get games.”

That apparently included a phone call to the two-time defending national champion Huskies from UConn to no avail.

Wednesday it was confirmed that the Cowboys will play in the U.S. Virgin Islands at the annual Paradise Jam Multi-Team Event. 

McNeese is one of six teams set to play in the eight-team event that runs from Nov. 21-26 in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The rest of the field includes Alabama-Birmingham, George Washington, Illinois State, Kansas State and Liberty.

The remaining two teams and schedule will be released at a later date. The event’s website made the official announcement Wednesday. 

This will be the first time in program history McNeese plays in the event. 

Wade called it “a great opportunity to showcase our program” when the American Press first reported the possibility of the Cowboys going to the Islands. 

McNeese and UAB are the only two teams confirmed for the event that made the NCAA Tournament last season, both falling in the first round. The Cowboys did beat the Blazers 81-60 in Birmingham last year.

As for Mississippi State, the Bulldogs are 3-1 all-time against the Cowboys, including a 70-58 win in the first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional in 2002, the last time McNeese made the tourney prior to last season.

Miss. State won the most recent meeting, taking a 90-77 decision in 2018. McNeese’s win came four years earlier, 66-47. The first meeting was a 83-60 Bulldog win in 2006.

All three of those games were played on Mississippi State’s home floor.

These games give McNeese five confirmed pre-Southland Conference contests, all away from the Legacy Center. The fifth is the final home-and-home with Louisiana-Lafayette, a series McNeese officials hope to extend.

With the addition of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, the Cowboys will have 20 conference games beginning this season, unless the SLC has any late expansion. With 31 regular season games allowed, McNeese is six games short of a full schedule.

Wade has said he would like to have four of those be home games. Last year McNeese was a perfect 18-0 at home with 10 of those games played in front of sellout crowds. 

The Cowboys also outscored their opponents at home by an average of 25 points a contest.

McNeese would like to set up some home-and-home deals with regional opponents like they had in the past. The Cowboys used to play against the likes of Louisiana Tech and UL-Monroe. 

Other possible foes are old rivals from former Southland teams like Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin, if the Lumberjacks don’t rejoin the league.