Cowboys try to change script against SLU

The Cowboys have played Southeastern Louisiana twice this season. Both times the game played out exactly the same: McNeese State falls behind big and then rallies only to lose 83-78.

The scores have been identical.

Last week the Cowboys had the ball, down by three, but could not come all the way back.

Tonight the teams meet for a third time as the Cowboys (9-15, 3-4 Southland Conference), who are coming off a 1-3 homestand, travel to Hammond to start a key four-game road trip.

“We have to find a way to get a win on the road,” said McNeese head coach John Aiken, whose team is 1-9 away from home. “We have been close against these guys before.”

But in both games against the Lions the Cowboys got off to slow starts, trailing by double digits before rallying before faltering at the finish.

“We can’t get down,” Aiken said. “We have to come out and stay with them.”

The four games are a big swing for the Cowboys who are in a three-way tie for fifth place in the conference standings. Southeastern (12-12, 4-3) is in third place.

The top four teams in the regular season get at least one bye in the conference tournament. The top two receive a double bye.

“If we can beat Southeastern we might be able to get on a roll,” Aiken said.

In order to do that the McNeese will have to stop a trio of Lions. Gus Okafor (13.9 ppg), Jalyn Hinton (13.2 ppg) and Keon Clegeot (12 ppg) combine to score 39 points a game to lead Southeastern’s balanced attack.

“When all three of those guys go off they win,” Aiken said. “We have to try and contain two of the three.”

The Lions also lead the league in 3-pointers a game, averaging almost 10. That will challenge a McNeese defense that has allowed at least 80 points in each of its last four games.

“Our defense has to get better,” Aiken said. “We have to stop turning the ball over as well.”

Freshman Christian Shumate (11.5 ppg) leads four Cowboys who are averaging double-figure scoring. Kellon Taylor (10.2), Myles Lewis (10.1) and Brendan Medley-Bacon (10) follow.

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