NSU Men’s Basketball: Northwestern State focusing on toughness as it hosts Lamar on Saturday

Northwestern State may not have come away from Sam Houston State with a victory Wednesday, but the Demons believe they’ve found a better sense of self as they host Lamar on Saturday in the first home Southland Conference contest.

NSU (2-7, 0-1 SLC) faces a hot Lamar squad (7-5, 1-0 SLC) that’s won three of its past four contests at 3 p.m. Saturday in Prather Coliseum. Play-by-play announcer Patrick Netherton will call the game on the Demon Sports Network along with a video stream offered on nsudemons.com.

But the Demons are coming off a second-half performance in which they sliced a double-digit SHSU lead to four at the 11-minute mark, battling the defending league champion on the road by making multiple surges in an eventual 13-point loss.

Junior Gatdoar Kueth made one of his two three-pointers (first of his NSU career) to cut edge to four points, part of his career-high 11 points and four rebounds in a breakout effort for the transfer.

“I felt really good coming into the game, and I’m finally feeling comfortable with the speed at this level,” said Kueth, who had combined for 15 points in the first eight games. “I’m comfortable with the coaches now and our defense, and I don’t have to do as much thinking.

“It feels like we’re more of a team now. We have the same goal, and we’re starting to read each others’ minds now. There’ve been games where we’ve been all over the place, but I felt at Sam Houston State, we all had the same goal and were going to do everything we could to win.”

Sophomore point guard Brian White scored 18 points, a career-high in conference play, as he spearheaded a Demons team that went on the attack often against a physical Bearkats squad. NSU shot 49 percent from the field, its best since the opener against Centenary.

Junior Chudier Bile continued his role as NSU’s most consistent scorer and rebounder (17 points and seven rebounds) as he’s continuing improve after missing 18 months as a redshirt transfer from Bradley.

The Demons are returning to Prather Coliseum after more than a month of being on the road.

NSU is attempting to snap a four-game losing skid (all on the road) since a Nov. 19 win against Louisiana College at home.

Lamar will try to go 2-0 in SLC play on the road after topping Southeastern in overtime, 79-73. T.J. Atwood poured in 34 points and 10 rebounds in the effort, paired with Avery Sullivan’s seventh double-double this season (10 points and 10 rebounds).

Atwood leads the group with 17 points per game, while Sullivan is averaging a double-double this season.

“(Sullivan) is a warrior inside, and they have guys that can make shots,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy. “(Davion Buster) is like our Jairus Roberson in that when he catches it, he’s ready to fire it from deep.

“We’ve got to be prepared to take the fight to them. It’s been a good competitive matchup with them the last couple of years, and we’ve got to have an ‘I’m coming at you first mentality.’ We’ve got to be the aggressor.”

Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services