Lions head to Dallas for rare matchup with SMU
Published 10:31 am Thursday, November 18, 2021
The Southeastern Louisiana University men’s basketball team eyes their third straight win as they hit the road Thursday night to take on the SMU Mustangs at 7 p.m. at Moody Coliseum in Dallas.
The Lions (2-1), following a season-opening 70-67 loss at Tulane, are coming off a pair of home wins last week over Southeastern Baptist College and Paul Quinn College which included several notable records for the program’s history.
Friday night, Southeastern drilled an all-time program record 19 three-pointers in a 128-58 win over Southeastern Baptist. The 70-point victory was also the second largest margin of victory in SLU men’s basketball history (86 – vs. Dallas Christian – 11/16/2007). The Lions also dished out 30 assists in the win which was the first time the program had 30 or more assists in a game since Dec. 30, 1975.
With Sunday’s win over Paul Quinn, SLU also notched the 300th career-win for the Lions inside the friendly confines of the University Center (300-181).
Through the season’s first three games, SLU’s shooting numbers have been terrific. The Lions are shooting 45 percent (95-208) from the field, including 36-for-97 (37 percent) from the three-point line. Southeastern is also converting at the free throw line shooting 80 percent (46-for-58) as a team.
“We’ve shot the ball well early on,” said third-year SLU men’s basketball head coach David Kiefer. “But I think some of our best style of basketball is when the ball is being thrown inside to the paint and playing through our bigs. We’ve got multiple bigs that can not only score the ball but are also really good and willing passers. We can mix it up and play different styles. But our best style at the end of the day is pushing the ball down the floor offensively and taking good shots, playing together, connected and tough.”
The Lions’ ball handling has also been spectacular as they boast nearly a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio (57 assists, 33 turnovers). Defensively, the Lions are holding opponents to just 37 percent (75-for-193) shooting and forced counterparts to 49 turnovers on 30 steals.
Individually, the Lions have featured a balanced attack with five players averaging double figures led by junior Gus Okafor. The second team preseason All-Southland is scoring 12.3 points per game and averaging 5.7 rebounds. SLU also has four guys averaging exactly 10.0 points per contest, including Jalyn Hinton, Keon Clergeot, Joe Kasperzyk and Roger McFarlane.
“Our depth is probably one of the best things going for us,” said Kiefer. “We’ve started the same five guys, but probably have eight or nine that could start any night and we’d feel comfortable. But one of the best things about our team is the unselfishness and willingness to pass. Nobody really cares who gets the credit as long as we win, which is awesome to see.”
SMU (2-1) enters Thursday’s game against the Lions coming off a 95-48 win over Southland member Northwestern State Monday night. The Mustangs jumped out to a 50-20 lead at halftime and cruised to the win. SMU drilled 11 three-pointers and outrebounded NSU, 55-24 as Naismith Trophy Watch Preseason Top 50 player Kendric Davis just missed a triple double (19 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds).
The Jersey Mikes’ Naismith Trophy award is given yearly to college basketball’s most outstanding player with some notable past winners, including Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Christian Laettner, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis, Zion Williamson and Luka Garza.
The Lions and Mustangs don’t have much history as Thursday is just the second matchup between the two and first in 22 years. SMU defeated SLU, 74-43 back on Nov. 16, 1999.
Fans can watch Thursday’s game on ESPN+ with links to audio, video and stats available on the Southeastern men’s basketball schedule page at www.LionSports.net.
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