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.
NEW ORLEANS — I’ll be the first to admit that I underestimated the New Orleans Privateers heading into Wednesday night’s match-up with the Lamar Cardinals.
All the Privateers did on Wednesday night was open the game on a 13-2 run and never trail over the course of the entire game. New Orleans never let Lamar get settled into a rhythm, forcing them to play catch-up all night long.
New Orleans had four different players score in double-figures, led by Makur Puou, who had a team-high 14 points. The Privateers held the Cardinals to just 16 points in the first half, and wouldn’t let Lamar get closer than four points in the second frame.
NEW ORLEANS, La. — Wednesday night pits two teams who are 2-0 in Southland Conference play against one another in an early match-up for first place in the conference.
Five teams in total have 2-0 records in conference play, with two of them having records that are below .500 overall for the season. One of those two teams, the New Orleans Privateers, will look to move to 3-0 when they host the Lamar Cardinals in the Big Easy on Wednesday night.
Lamar was projected to be a top contender in the conference in various preseason polls, and they’ve lived up to the billing early on this season. At 10-5 overall, they have the second-best record of any team in the Southland Conference.
As for the Privateers, they were expected to take a step back this season. Instead, they’ve knocked off a pair of talented teams to open conference play on a two game winning streak. Wednesday night will be a big test for both teams, as they look to extend their winning streaks to three games and score their first win of the 2018 calendar year.
SOUTH BEND, In. — In the final non-conference game of the year, and the final game before the holidays, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish came out victorious against the Southeastern Louisiana Lions, 86-50.
This was the 392nd victory for Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey, who is now only two wins away from passing Digger Phelps for the most in program history.
Notre Dame and Southeastern Louisiana met for the first time on Thursday night, with the Irish now claiming the lone victory in the series. The Irish showed defensive dominance throughout the whole game, forcing 16 turnovers, while giving up only six themselves.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Some holiday basketball will take place in Sin City on Friday and Saturday, as the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic will be played inside Orleans Arena.
Eight teams, split into two brackets, will play a pair of games over the next two days to close out non-conference play for most, and close out the 2017 calendar year for a few as well. The Lamar Cardinals will take part in the Visitors’ Bracket of the event, and open up with a contest against the UC Davis Aggies.
In the other pairing, the Radford Highlanders and North Carolina A&T Aggies will square off. The winners and losers of each contest will match up against one another on Saturday to close out the event. Lamar has never faced any of the three teams in the bracket.
Friday’s contest will be one of the toughest-to-date for the Cardinals in 2017-18, as UC Davis comes into the day ranked 24th in the latest Mid-Major Top 25 poll from CollegeInsider.com. Both teams will be looking to get back on track as conference play is just around the corner.
This will be the first meeting between the Fighting Irish and the Lions, but the seventh between Notre Dame and a member of the Southland Conference. Notre Dame is 6-0 against teams of the Southland, with the last win coming against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacksin the 2015 NCAA Tournament, where Rex Pflueger tipped in the last second bucket to propel the Irish to victory.
Thursday’s contest will be the final game before the players travel back home to spend the holiday season with their families.