Southland season begins at home Wednesday at 6:30 for Demons

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NSU– Northwestern State rides a three-game winning streak into the
start of the 2019 Southland Conference basketball season at home
Wednesday night against 2018 co-champion Nicholls at 6:30 in Prather
Coliseum.

The Demons (5-8) have a home-heavy schedule in the first half of the
league slate, playing in Prather in their first three conference games
and for five of the first seven. Nicholls (7-6) is one of four league
teams to have a record over .500 as 12 of the 13 Southland squads are
carrying at least five defeats and have between 4-7 wins. Abilene
Christian (11-2) is the outlier.

Considering what appears to be a very balanced league, 20th-year
Demons coach Mike McConathy is especially pleased to start the 18-game
conference season at home. After meeting Nicholls, NSU hosts McNeese
(4-9) Saturday afternoon and A&M-Corpus Christi (5-8) next Wednesday
night.

The momentum of an improving team on a win streak gives the Demons
their best opportunity to open league play successfully.

“It’s very, very important to get off to a good start, to develop
confidence, belief in yourself and one another, build continuity as a
team, and put yourself in position to improve and win tough games in
February and March,” he said.

McConathy, whose team has won all five games in which foes have scored
under 66 points, has a simple check list for the Demons as they enter
league play.

“Our principal goals are to defend, rebound and run. We’d love to make
a higher percentage of our shots, and our free throws. We have to play
with tremendous effort,” he said.

The Colonels tuned up for the Southland season with their second
straight victory, 88-63 Saturday over Campbellsville-Harrodsburg. They
have been a perimeter-oriented team led by Jeremiah Jefferson, who is
sinking 44 percent (45-102) on 3-pointers as the cornerstone of his
17.8 scoring average.

“They’re making 34 percent of their 3-pointers, and 45 percent of
their shots are coming behind the 3-point line. Jefferson has shot it
extremely well,” said McConathy, who is hoping NSU can offset
Nicholls’ outside game with strong play close to the basket.

“We’ve got to stay in front and contest 3-point shots. We’ve got to
rebound,” he said. “Offensively, we have to get the ball inside, then
outside, and by doing that, we’ll be more effective. We need to be
dominant inside and get strong performances from our bigs: Ishmael
Lane, Larry Owens, Darian Dixon and Dalin Williams.”

Lane’s averages of 12.2 points and 6.9 rebounds pace NSU. Junior
college transfer LaTerrance Reed has averaged 14.3 points in the
three-game winning streak.

The game will be carried by the Demon Sports Network, with veteran play-by-play announcer Patrick Netherton calling the action. A pay-per-view video stream is available through NSUDemons.com, which will also have free audio from the radio
broadcast.