Jimmie Tramel's Southland Conference Insider
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Thursday, February 21, 2013
2/21/13 at 4:26 AM
Northwestern State: The Demons have won nine consecutive games to reach the top of the standings, including their only head-to-head meeting so far with Stephen F. Austin. Stay tuned for a March 2 rematch on Stephen F. Austin's homecourt.
Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles have won three consecutive games since an 0-2 road trip and - big bonus - they're getting healthy. Steven Roundtree and Shawn Glover were on the floor together for only the fourth time in league play Tuesday, when ORU roared to its most lopsided victory over a Division I opponent (Central Arkansas) this season.
Central Arkansas: The Bears are riding the longest losing streak (five games) in the league. The margin of defeat was 20 or more in three of those games, but the blowouts were dealt by the league's three best teams.
News and notes
Luck of the draw: Among Southland Conference teams, Oral Roberts drew (from an RPI standpoint) the toughest ESPN BracketBusters opponent.
ORU will play a 7:30 p.m. Saturday BracketBusters home game against Weber State, which has an RPI of 112.
The next-best RPIs for Southland opponents in the BracketBusters event are 114 (Long Beach State, which plays host to Stephen F. Austin) and 129 (Niagara, which hosts Northwestern State).
The Stephen F. Austin-Long Beach State game and the Northwestern State-Niagara game were chosen for broadcast on ESPN networks, likely because, at the time matchmaking occurred, the Lumberjacks and Demons possessed the Southland's two best RPIs. That's still true. Stephen F. Austin is 81, Northwestern State is 88 and ORU is 110, according to CBSSports.com bracketologist Jerry Palm.
Other BracketBusters games featuring Southland teams? Cal State-Fullerton (RPI 258) at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (325), SIU-Edwardsville (298) at Central Arkansas (303), Texas State (290) at Lamar (326), McNeese State (233) at Toledo (174), Nicholls State (268) at Texas-San Antonio (287), Sam Houston State (235) at Eastern Washington (323) and Southeastern Louisiana (194) at Winthrop (278).
Louisiana icon: Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy has 571 career victories. His next win will match a state record for most victories by a college coach in Louisiana. Currently alone at the top is Fred Hobdy, who coached at Grambling for 30 years and led the school to an NAIA title in 1961.
Been a long time: Oral Roberts played an up-and-down game Tuesday against Central Arkansas. The statistical fallout included the Golden Eagles grabbing 56 rebounds.
According to research by the university's sports information department, ORU collected its most rebounds since snaring 70 in a 1989 game against LeMoyne-Owen.
The 56 rebounds also matched a season-high for a Southland team. Central Arkansas accumulated 56 in a Jan. 24 game against McNeese State.
Celebrity in the house: Former University of Tulsa and Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson was at the Mabee Center for the ORU-Central Arkansas game. Richardson is the mentor of UCA coach Corliss Williamson.
Player of the week: Warren Niles. A senior guard at Oral Roberts, Niles scored a total of 50 points in victories over Sam Houston State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last week. He shot 50 percent from the field and was 8-of-18 on 3-point attempts.
1. Northwestern State: Nine consecutive regular season wins matches the Demons' best streak in their 37-year Division I history.
2. Stephen F. Austin: Lumberjacks are the only Southland team with a spotless (12-0) home record.
3. Oral Roberts: Golden Eagles scored season-high 94 points in their most recent game.
4. Southeastern Louisiana: Go figure. The Lions followed a victory over Stephen F. Austin with a loss to McNeese State.
5. Sam Houston State: After a BracketBusters game and home dates against Nicholls State and Southeastern Louisiana, the Bearkats close with a brutal road trip (at Stephen F. Austin and Northwestern State).
6. Nicholls State: Colonels clinched spot in the league tournament for program-record fifth consecutive year.
7. McNeese State: Cowboys have won consecutive league games for the first time this season.
8. Central Arkansas: Routed by ORU, Bears get a March 9 rematch in Conway, Ark.
9. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: Islanders playing like they are motivated even though APR issues prevent them from participating in Southland Tournament.
10. Lamar: Looks like the eight-team Southland Tournament will be played without defending champion Cardinals.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Stephen F. Austin at Long Beach State, 8 p.m. Friday, ESPNU-253
Stephen F. Austin will be carrying the Southland flag in a nationally televised (ESPNU) prime time Bracket Busters road game. Will the Lumberjacks get enough rest to put their best foot forward? The Jacks, who trekked to Sam Houston State for a Wednesday league game, will play a second road game in a three-day span. Long Beach State (16-9) has won 11 of its past 12 games.
Oral Roberts' Shawn Glover is defended by Central Arkansas' Jarvis Garner during Tuesday's game. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World