At 7-8 in conference and 12-16 overall, the ACU men’s basketball team gets a late season gift. The Wildcats final three games of the 2015-2016 season will be played at home in Moody Coliseum where ACU is 5-0 during conference play and 9-1 on the year.
Officially, the Wildcats stand at 9-2 in home games, but one of those losses came away from Moody Coliseum, when ACU was forced to play at Hardin-Simmons University with Sing-Song preparations occupying the Coliseum.
The Wildcats welcome New Orleans University in the first of the season-ending three-game homestand Saturday afternoon. Tip off is scheduled for 4 p.m.
ACU comes off one of their better games of the season when it faced second-placed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on the coast Tuesday night. The Wildcats led for most of the game and shot lights out against one of the best defenses in Div. I men’s basketball.
Turnovers however, and Islander’s senior leadership, began to overcome the Wildcats, as an 18-6 second half run pushed Corpus Christi in from of ACU and ultimately led to a 65-59 loss.
The Wildcats, who were predicted to finish last in the conference in the coach’s and SID’s preseason poll, sit at sixth in the conference. Freshman guard Jaylen Franklin has been a big part of the Wildcats best season since the move to Div. I. Franklin leads the team at 15.8 points per game as the top scoring newcomer in the conference and sixth leading scorer overall in the Southland. In addition, his 3.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game, while attempting the second most free throws in the conference (171), has to have him as the front-runner for Southland Conference Freshman of the Year.
Senior forward Austin Cooke has increased his production in the past few games for the Wildcats. After averaging less than five points per game through most of conference play, Cooke scored 14 points against Southeastern Louisiana and 15 in their last game against the Islanders on a combined 7-12 FG, 5-8 3FG and 10-10 from the charity stripe.
The Privateers stand at 9-16 overall and 5-9 in conference, holding on to the final playoff spot in the conference. With Incarnate Word (9-5), ACU (7-8) and Central Arkansas (6-8) all ineligible for post season play, New Orleans hopes to maintain its half a game lead over Northwestern State (5-10).
New Orleans comes off a 93-81 loss to Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday in Hammond, Louisiana, home of the Lions. The Privateers have lost four of their last five games after winning three straight against UCA (94-83), McNeese State (76-64) and Nicholls State (74-53).
Junior guard Christavious Gill leads the Privateers at 13.8 points per game and has reached double-digit scoring outputs in seven of the last eight games. Gill comes off a 21-point outing against SELU where he went just 7-21 from the field and 2-11 from deep. Junior forward Erik Thomas is next for UNO at 11.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Thomas, a 55 percent shooter, has scored 10 or more points in the last 11 games and in 15 of the past 17 games for the Privateers. The Baton Rouge community college transfer comes off an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double, his fourth of the season.
New Orleans, much like ACU, has struggled to win on the road this year. The Privateers stand at 3-12 away from Lakefront Arena, while ACU has dropped 12 of 14 road games.