BEAUMONT, Tex. — Coming into the 2017-18 season, the Southland Conference looked like it would be home to one of the more exciting title races this season. Through the first two weeks, it certainly hasn’t disappointed.
Entering Wednesday night, there are nine teams that have a record of 2-2 in conference play, or better. Two teams remain undefeated atop the standings, the New Orleans Privateers and the Southeastern Louisiana Lions. Both teams are in action on Wednesday, and will be looking to keep their perfect records intact.
The Lions are in Beaumont, TX to take on the Lamar Cardinals, a team that many projected to win the conference title in 2017-18. They have struggled as of late, losing six of their last eight contests after an 8-1 start. A win over the Lions would undoubtedly get Lamar back on track as Southland play continues.
Southeastern Louisiana, on the other hand, will be looking to complete a perfect three game road trip with a win over the Cardinals. With two road wins and a victory at home over the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks under their belts, the Lions are for real.
Here’s what you need to know in advance of Wednesday night’s contest between the visiting Lions and host Cardinals.
Last Time Out
On Saturday, Southeastern Louisiana looked to stay perfect in Southland Conference play when they were on the road to take on the Abilene Christian Wildcats in Abilene, TX. The Lions took a nine point lead after the first half, but the Wildcats made them sweat it out right to the final buzzer. When all was said and done, Southeastern Louisiana advanced to 3-0 in conference play with a 72-70 win.
Jordan Capps scored 16 points to lead the Lions, who had four players reach double digits on the scoreboard. Guard Marlain Veal added 11 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Lamar found themselves in a battle against the Central Arkansas Bears in their last outing, as the teams needed double overtime to settle their Southland showdown on Saturday night. It was a high-scoring affair, one that the Cardinals found themselves on the wrong side of the decision when all was said and done. Thanks in large part to 27 points from Jordan Howard, the Bears topped the Cardinals on their home floor, 100-91.
Senior forward Colton Weisbrod led all scorers on the night, pouring in 38 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the floor, and 16-of-22 shooting from the free throw line. He also pulled down 11 rebounds for his third double-double over his last five games. Guards Torey Noel and Zjori Bosha scored 11 points apiece.
Last season, Southeastern Louisiana and Lamar met once in the regular season, and again in the Southland Conference tournament in Katy, Texas. The Cardinals picked up a 74-54 win in the regular season meeting, and the Lions were looking for some retribution in the conference tournament.
The Cardinals had other plans, and Lamar swept the season series with a 77-65 win over Southeastern Louisiana in the quarterfinals of the Southland tournament. Nick Garth scored 17 points to lead the Cardinals, while Marcus Owens had 12 and Torey Noel added 11 points for a balanced offensive attack.
Southeastern Louisiana was led by Veal, who had 16 points, five rebounds and five assists. Dimi Cook came off the bench to record 13 points and two rebounds.
Players to Watch
Southeastern Louisiana – Marlain Veal
Junior guard Marlain Veal does a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor for the Southeastern Louisiana Lions. He comes in at 5’9” and 145 pounds, but doesn’t let that determine his impact on the game. The native of New Orleans battles inside for rebounds, has good court vision and ball distribution skills, and can fill up the score sheet on any given night. Veal is averaging 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game this season, while shooting 45.9% from the floor and 41.9% from three point range. For his career, Veal currently sits at 913 total points, just 87 shy of reaching the 1,000 point mark. Against Lamar, Veal will look to lead the Lions to their fourth straight victory and inch closer to the 1,000 point mark in the process.
Lamar – Colton Weisbrod
After a strong junior season in 2016-17, forward Colton Weisbrod is having himself an even better senior campaign for the Lamar Cardinals. The native of Nederland, TX is averaging a career-best 16.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game this season. He is shooting 41.7% (10-of-24) from three point range, showcasing his improved jumper and confidence from long range. Over his last six games, Weisbrod has alternated double-doubles with single-digit scoring performances. He is coming off a 38-point, 11-rebound performance against Central Arkansas in his last outing, and the Cardinals are hoping his recent trend of alternating performances doesn’t continue against the Lions. Weisbrod will look to build off his last performance and carry Lamar to its third victory in conference play.
On one side of the ball, you have the Southeastern Louisiana Lions, who enter Wednesday night as one of just two remaining unbeaten teams in Southland Conference play. They have won three in a row, and have pushed their record to 9-7 on the season.
On the other side, you have the Lamar Cardinals, a team that many picked to win the Southland Conference title this season (including me). They have lost two straight games, and sit at 2-2 in conference play early on.
Both teams are evenly matched, and Wednesday’s game inside the Montagne Center could very well go both ways. With the way the last few games have gone for both teams, expect this one to come down to the wire and either team could come away victorious. In the end, home court advantage will give the edge to the Cardinals, and Lamar will end their mini two game slide.
Lamar – 70
Southeastern Louisiana – 67
– T. Bennett