McNeese takes on Mississippi State
The next stop for the McNeese men’s basketball team as they search for their first road win and first win over a Division I team this season is Starkville, Mississippi. On Tuesday night, the Cowboys will take on host Mississippi State at Humphrey Coliseum; tip-off is at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs go into the game ranked No. 22 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls. In addition to a three-game winning streak, Mississippi State sports a perfect 4-0 home record. Their most reason result was a 65-58 road win against Dayton.
Both McNeese and MSU have two common opponents so far this season: St. Mary’s and Arizona State. The Bulldogs lost to Arizona State 72-67 before defeating St. Mary’s 61-57 two days later. By Contrast, McNeese lost to both teams by double-digits.
McNeese has to pick themselves up after a deflating loss on Dec. 1 on the road against North Carolina Central. The Cowboys led 64-57 with 1:59 remaining in the game, but the Eagles finished the game on a 10-2 run, hitting two late free throws to earn the 67-66 win. Sha’markus Kennedy led the Cowboys with a team-high 22 points and 10 rebounds. James Harvey and Kevin Hunt also scored in double-figures with 19 and 10 points respectively.
“Turnovers, offensive rebounds and missed free throws in the last two minutes gets you beat,” McNeese head coach Heath Schroyer said after the game. “This game had a league-like feel to it and was a great atmosphere. NC (Central) has been to multiple NCAA Tournaments the last couple years and they know how to win. I’ve been through this before. As hard as it is, these types of games are a learning experience and a process that you have to go through to build a team and program.”
Mississippi State has a balanced offense – five players average in double-figures scoring – led by senior guard Quindarry Weatherspoon’s 17 points per game. The Bulldogs’ defense is also tough to crack, as they are ranked 24th in the country in scoring defense, allowing 61.3 points per game.
That’s bad news for a Cowboy offense that has struggled against Division I competition this season. McNeese is tied for 306th in the country in scoring (67.1 points per game), 334th in three-pointers made per game (5.1), 320th in three-point percentage (28.3 percent), and 318th in turnover margin per game (-3.4).
This is the ninth game of the series between the two teams; Mississippi State leads 6-2. The last time the two teams met was in December 2014, when McNeese defeated the Bulldogs 66-47.
Mississippi Choctaw Brandon Boston (5) tries to guard McNeese Cowboy Sha’markus Kennedy (23) while going up for a layup during a Non-Conference match up at McNeese H&HP Complex in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Friday, November 23, 2018. (Dennis Babineaux/Special to the American Press)