The men’s basketball team will travel to East Texas to play Lamar University (10-10, 4-4) Saturday night in hopes of ending their four-game losing streak. The Wildcats sit two games under .500 at 9-11 and are 3-4 in conference.
The Wildcats have been nothing but inconsistent since entering conference play earlier this month. In their first three games, the men were a perfect 3-0 with convincing wins over Central Arkansas, Nicholls State and a big win over established Southland member Northwestern State University on the road. For the Demons, it was only their second loss of the season on their home court.
“We got off to a great start winning our first three conference games,” said Joe Golding, head coach. “We were confident and playing the way we wanted to play, especially against Northwestern. We played defense the way we are capable of and it showed.”
Since then, though, the Wildcats have fallen in four straight to some of the top competition the conference has to offer.
The Wildcats couldn’t hold onto a halftime lead against Stephen F. Austin, who has won 16 games in a row, and then lost to McNeese State in Lake Charles, despite the Cowboys missing nine of 11 free throws down the stretch.
The past two games have been in Abilene, but against the top of the conference. Incarnate Word, the top scoring team in the Southland, ended the game on a 27-11 run to top ACU, 77-61. The second-best team in the conference was next on the slate for ACU as Sam Houston and its number-one defense shut the Wildcats down, 80-63.
“It’s been a very tough part of our schedule, and we knew it would be,” Golding said. “But these are all good teams in this conference, especially playing on the road. No games are going to be easy wins.”
Lamar sits in the middle of the pack like the Wildcats. The Cardinals have dropped their past two against SFA (82-65) and Houston Baptist University (79-77), and their last three of five.
Lamar and ACU are similar in scoring output and defensive intensity. The Cardinals average 72.4 points per game, while the Wildcats have put up around 68.2 points per contest. Lamar does struggle from beyond the three-point arc, however, converting only 30 percent of threes as a team. Defensively, Lamar is fourth in the conference, giving up 70.9 points per game.
Senior forward Tyran de Lattibeaudiere and senior guard Anthony Holliday lead the Cardinals in scoring. De Lattibeaudiere averages 14.2 points per game and has put up double-digit scoring in the last four games.
Holliday has been on an offensive tear as of late. He put in 25 points against Stephen F. Austin, 30 against Houston Baptist and 25 points against both Northwestern State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. He has scored 25 or more points in four of his last five games and is averaging 23.8 points per game over those five games.
The Wildcats are led by the trio of guards. Seniors Harrison Hawkins (13.6) and LaDarrien Williams (10.8), along with junior Parker Wentz (12.6), lead in scoring.
However, the Wildcats have struggled defensively, giving up 75.5 points per game over their last four games, and allowing opponents to shoot 52 percent.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Lamar University.