It was over a month ago that Southeastern Louisiana snuck out of Moody Colisuem with a 72-70 victory and dashed the Wildcats’ hopes of a perfect 3-0 home stand to start conference.
Since then, SLU has tapered very little, solidifying itself as a top contender in the Southland Conference and positioned in a three-way tie for second place at 10-3.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats at 7-6 in conference should have plenty of momentum after knocking of Incarnate Word 80-69 last Saturday, for their first win over the Cardinals in five seasons. The win also snapped a two-game losing streak for ACU as it is fighting to be one of the top-eight who make it to Katy for the Southland Conference Tournament. ACU sits tied for seventh right now, half a game back of sixth and has just a one game lead over McNeese State, who at 6-7 in conference play, is knocking on the door from the ninth spot.
“You want to be playing your best basketball this time of year heading into Katy to give yourself the best opportunity,” Head Coach Joe Golding said. “Obviously we’re in the mix of trying to get to Katy still, so it’s important that we’re playing at a high level to give us the best opportunity to get there.”
With five games left in the regular season, Golding is urging his team to one game at a time.
“We just look one game ahead and trust the process,” Golding said. “The next game is the most important and so obviously all of our work behind the scenes this week is getting ready to go to Southeastern.”
When the two teams met previously, the Wildcats had the ball trailing by one with 14 seconds left, but couldn’t get a shot to fall. Junior guard Jaylen Franklin said that this time he hopes the Wildcats will jump on them early.
“Something we need to learn how to do is when we are up, we just need to keep digging in deep to put teams away,” Franklin said. “Coach talks about that all the time we just haven’t put that together yet. But once we do, everything would go smooth for us.”
Franklin is third in the conference and leads his team with 4.8 assists per game. However, the Lions tout the league’s best assist man in Marlain Veal, averaging 6.1 per contest. Veal is also second on his team in scoring with 12.5 per game, just behind Jordan Capps, who comes in posting a 13.3 point per game average.
For the Wildcats, sophomore center Jalone Friday has tailed off slightly offensively but still leads the team with 13.8 ppg. Junior Jaren Lewis is right behind him at 13.5 ppg, but is averaged 19 points and 18.5 rebounds in two games last week.
Overall, the Lions are one of the hottest teams in the conference riding a four-game win streak into Hammond, Louisiana on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m., following the women’s game and can be heard on 98.1 FM, The Ticket.