Demons unveil another challenging, interesting men’s hoops schedule for 2017-18

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Ishmael Lane

NATCHITOCHES – Among the constants of Northwestern State Demon basketball in nearly two decades under coach Mike McConathy is a blend of in-state non-conference contests, including trips to play at nearby lower-division foes, and visits to play at high-profile programs.

The full 2017-18 NSU men’s schedule released Thursday afternoon fits that description and adds an early-season homecourt showcase game against Rice, which won 23 games and reached postseason last March.

The Owls, 23-12 in 2016-17, visit Prather Coliseum on Friday night, Nov. 17, one of only three home outings for NSU until Southland Conference play begins. But the Demons play two games in cities where NSU has campuses:  Alexandria, on Saturday, Dec. 9 at just-renovated Rapides Coliseum against Louisiana College; and Shreveport, a week later, against LSU-Shreveport at Centenary’s Gold Dome in the second Shreveport-Bossier Holiday Classic.

A 12-game home schedule includes eight Southland Conference contests, the first on Saturday, Jan. 6, when arch-rival Stephen F. Austin comes to Prather Coliseum for the second of five women’s-men’s afternoon doubleheaders at NSU.

The Southland membership voted to adjust the league’s scheduling format, moving away from doubleheaders on weeknights and shifting single conference games to Wednesday from Thursday.

The doubleheaders begin with a non-conference twinbill to tip off the home season for the Demons and Lady Demons on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 12 against LeTourneau.

Along with the SFA doubleheader, the other Southland twinbills are Jan. 27 against Central Arkansas, Feb. 3 against McNeese, and Feb. 24 when Southeastern Louisiana visits.

Season tickets for home games went on sale Thursday.

The Demons open the season on Friday, Nov. 12, visiting the Texas Longhorns. That will be the first of four games in the first week, with a Nov. 15 visit to SMU sandwiched between the LeTourneau and Rice home games.

Other non-league road games are Nov. 24 at Colorado State, Dec. 19 at Oklahoma and Dec. 20 at Utah. It will be the third time this decade the Demons have played road games on back-to-back nights, beating Auburn and losing at LSU in 2013, and taking nationally-ranked Baylor to overtime and losing at UTEP in 2014.

NSU will face four non-conference teams that played in postseason last year. SMU finished 30-5, winning the American Athletic Conference title and playing in the NCAA Tournament. Colorado State (24-12) and Utah (20-12) reached the NIT, with Rice (23-12) playing in the CBI (College Basketball Invitational).

Five Southland teams went to postseason tournaments in 2017, led by regular-season and conference tournament champion New Orleans in the NCAA Tournament. Taking part in the College Insider Tournament were Houston Baptist (17-14), Lamar (19-15), SFA (18-15) and A&M-Corpus Christi (24-11). SFA (Jan. 6), UNO (Jan. 24), Lamar (Feb. 7) and HBU (Feb. 14) all visit Prather Coliseum.

The Demons return three of their top five scorers (junior center Ishmael Lane, senior guards Devonte Hall and Iziahiah Sweeney) plus redshirted senior point guard Jalan West, who led the nation in assists as a sophomore and averaged 20 points per game in his last full season (2014-15).

NSU also has seven newcomers on the roster. Other returning letterwinners are sophomore forward Jacob Guest, sophomore guard Cody Cambre, and junior point guard Bailey Walker.

2017-18 Demon Basketball Schedule

Day          Date   Opponent        Location Time

Fri. Nov. 10       Texas (Longhorn Network) Austin, TX           7:00

Jamaica Classic Montego Bay MTE, NSU Prather Coliseum

Sun.        Nov. 12      LeTourneau (DH)    Natchitoches          4:00

Wed.        Nov. 15       SMU         Dallas, TX           7:00

Fri. Nov. 17      Rice          Natchitoches          6:30

Tues.        Nov. 21       ULM         Monroe    TBA

Jamaica Classic Montego Bay MTE, CSU Moby Arena

Fri. Nov. 24       Colorado State (MW Network)    Fort Collins, CO 8:00

Wed.       Nov. 29      Lyon College          Natchitoches          6:30

Alexandria Classic, Rapides Coliseum

Sat. Dec. 9          Louisiana College       Alexandria          TBA

Shreveport-Bossier Holiday Classic, Centenary’s Gold Dome

Sat. Dec. 16        LSU-Shreveport          Shreveport         TBA

Tues.        Dec. 19        Oklahoma        Norman, OK       7:00

Wed.        Dec. 20        Utah (Pac-12 Networks)       Salt Lake City, UT        8:00

Thurs.       Dec. 28        * Nicholls         Thibodaux          TBA

Sat.           Dec. 30        * McNeese (DH)         Lake Charles       TBA

Wed.        Jan. 3          * Texas A&M-Corpus Christi        Corpus Christi, TX        7:00

Sat.         Jan. 6         * Stephen F. Austin (DH)         Natchitoches          3:00

Sat.         Jan. 13       * Abilene Christian         Natchitoches          3:00

Wed.        Jan. 17        * Sam Houston State           Huntsville, TX     6:30

Sat. Jan. 20        * Southeastern Louisiana (DH)    Hammond          5:00

Wed.       Jan. 24       * UNO     Natchitoches          6:30    

Sat.         Jan. 27       * Central Arkansas (DH)       Natchitoches          3:00

Wed.        Jan. 31        * UNO      New Orleans      7:00

Sat.         Feb. 3          * McNeese (DH)       Natchitoches          3:00

Wed.       Feb. 7          * Lamar Natchitoches          6:30

Sat. Feb. 10        * Stephen F. Austin (DH)     Nacogdoches, TX        6:00

Wed.        Feb. 14        * Houston Baptist          Natchitoches          6:30

Wed.        Feb. 21        * UIW       San Antonio, TX          7:00

Sat.         Feb. 24        * Southeastern Louisiana (DH)     Natchitoches          3:00

Wed.       Feb. 28        * Nicholls     Natchitoches          6:30

Sat. Mar. 3         * Central Arkansas (DH)       Conway, AR        3:00

Southland Conference Tournament, Leonard E. Merrell Center

Wed.        Mar. 7         First Round       Katy, TX    TBA

Thurs.       Mar. 8         Quarterfinals   Katy, TX    TBA

Fri. Mar. 9         Semifinals        Katy, TX    TBA

Sat. Mar. 10       Championship           Katy, TX    TBA

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