McNeese State's new lineup produced a second consecutive Southland Conference win, this one an 85-76 home win over Northwestern State, despite new starter Myles Hutchinson not scoring a point.
Hutchinson, inserted as the starting point guard before last week's win at Abilene Christian, missed both field goal attempts, but ran an efficient attack as the Cowboys shot 46 percent from the floor, 41 percent from behind the 3-point arc and had 20 assists to seven turnovers.
Shamarkus Kennedy scored a game-high 21 points, A.J. Lawson added 20 and Dru Kuxhausen scored 19 for McNeese (7-9, 2-3 SLC). Roydell Brown had 14 points and 15 rebounds, scoring all of his points in the second half.
Northwestern State (6-9, 3-3), which was missing two starters and a key reserve player, raced to a 16-7 lead behind the shooting of Trenton Massner, but McNeese scored 11 straight at one point in the first half and led 43-42 at halftime. The Cowboys took the lead for good at 53-52 on a putback basket by Brown. That basket was part of a 10-3 run that gave McNeese a 59-52 lead. Brown and Lawson each had a pair of baskets in the run, with Brown assisting Kennedy with an interior pass for the final basket.
"I just stayed focus," Brown said. "I just try to bring it everyday and do whatever the team needs. I feel with the depth we have up front, teams can't stop everybody."
Messner and Jairus Robertson led Northwestern with 17 points each. Chudier Bile added 15 and Jamaure Gregg scored 10. Bile had a career-high 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. The loss ended the Demons' two-game win streak. They've lost eight of their nine road games.
Cowboys head coach Heath Schroyer said he was pleased with how Hutchinson ran the offense.
"It was probably our best assist-to-turnover ratio, against the team that led the conference in effective field goal percentage defense," he said. "It was a team effort. Roydell was huge and Myles Hutchinson has been a real spark for our team the past two games, a real constant.
"Our Achilles heel throughout the year has been the ability to take care of the basketball. Myles does everything right, he knows what we are doing and our game management has been great. Our offense has been better with A.J. playing off the ball more. It has allowed to run him off of a lot of stuff. Myles has been a steady influence for us. He's our quarterback. He won a state championship (in football at Acadiana High) doing that and understands the role. Having A.J. off the ball makes us tougher to defend. It has helped A.J."