Preseason No. 1 Gonzaga highlights Northwestern State schedule forged amid COVID-19 restructuring

NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State men’s basketball staff had its 2020-21 schedule hammered out by early fall, before the NCAA announced basketball season would be delayed two weeks.

That sent the Demons, and the rest of the college basketball world, scrambling to reschedule games and find new contests.

NSU head coach Mike McConathy and associate head coach Jeff Moore picked up the pieces and added new ones in the schedule announced Thursday, including a date with preseason No. 1 Gonzaga on Dec. 21.

“Coach Moore did a really great job considering we lost five games when the start of the season backed up to Nov. 25,” said McConathy, who will start his 22nd season on the NSU sidelines. “Texas Tech was one of those games, and they offered us a game on the (new) starting date.

“Other games like SMU we couldn’t reschedule because of their graduation dates. So we went back out into the scheduling world, and we were able to pick up Gonzaga and Washington State after playing at Tulsa and Missouri State in late December. It’s been changing every day, but we had to get those games nailed down before we could set others up.”

The season is less than a week away as the Demons will tip off Wednesday at Texas Tech – which is opening night across the NCAA.

Season tickets and other ticket options are available at, and fans can listen to each game on FM 95.9 Kix Country, part of the Elite Broadcasting network.

While the Demons don’t have a plethora of home games before Southland Conference play begins Jan. 2., NSU is participating in the multi-team event Louisiana Tech Classic in Ruston.

The Demons will face UT Arlington on Nov. 28 and Louisiana Tech on Nov. 29.

“The multi-team event allows us two extra games, and it’s a treat for us and our fans because Louisiana Tech is just right down the road,” said McConathy, who is in the Louisiana Tech Hall of Fame as a player. “We love to play in-state opponents because they are natural rivalries that have developed over the past 100 years, and it gives the alumni of the two schools something to talk about.”

NSU opens its home slate against another in-state rival in ULM on Dec. 1. The Demons finish a five-game stretch in the first nine days with a trip to TCU on Dec. 3.

NSU returns home to host Champion Christian (Dec. 12) before its wacky road trip that starts with Tulsa (Dec. 18) and Missouri State (Dec. 19) before boarding a flight to catch No. 1 Gonzaga (Dec. 21) and Washington State (Dec. 23).

“We’ve had a lot of situations where we’ve played back-to-back games to prepare for tournament play, but I don’t know if we’ve played two then traveled across the country to play two more,” said McConathy, who noted that Tulsa was the only original opponent from before the season was delayed. “That’ll be interesting.”

NSU returns from Christmas break to host Louisiana College on Dec. 31 before starting a modified 16-game Southland Conference schedule on Jan. 2 at Houston Baptist.

January is a road-heavy month with five of eight games on the road, but NSU gets home contests against Incarnate Word (Jan. 6) and Nicholls (Jan. 13) sandwiching a road date at McNeese (Jan. 9).

The Demons make a difficult road swing to Stephen F. Austin on Jan. 20 before traveling to Southeastern on Jan. 23.

New Orleans visits Jan. 27 before NSU finishes the month at Central Arkansas (Jan. 30).

The February schedule is more fan-friendly with four of six contests at Prather.

NSU hosts HBU (Feb. 6) before traveling to UIW (Feb. 10).

The Demons welcome McNeese on Feb. 13 before heading to Nicholls on Feb. 17.

Two home games greet the Demons at the end of the month with SFA (Feb. 24) and Southeastern (Feb. 27).

NSU wraps up regular season play at New Orleans on March 3 with its finale at home vs. Central Arkansas on March 6.

Unlike most years, NSU won’t face every team in league play. The Demons play the above eight league teams twice but will miss Sam Houston State, Abilene Christian, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Lamar.

The original league schedule allowed for 20 games just like the 2019-20 season, but with the delayed start, the SLC decreased the slate to 16 games and dropped opponents that NSU faced just once this past season.

The Southland Conference Tournament begins March 10 at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas.

NSU was the highest seeded team (No. 5 seed) to win a tournament game (beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) this past season before the coronavirus halted sports.

2020-21 Men’s Basketball Schedule

Nov. 25 at No. 14 Texas Tech
Nov. 28 vs. UT Arlington (La. Tech Classic)
Nov. 29 at Louisiana Tech (La. Tech Classic)
Dec. 1 vs. ULM
Dec. 3 at TCU
Dec. 12 vs. Champion Christian
Dec. 18 at Tulsa
Dec. 19 at Missouri State
Dec. 21 at Gonzaga
Dec. 23 at Washington State
Dec. 31 vs. Louisiana College
Jan. 2 at Houston Baptist*
Jan. 6 vs. Incarnate Word*
Jan. 9 at McNeese*
Jan. 13 vs. Nicholls*
Jan. 20 at Stephen F. Austin*
Jan. 23 at Southeastern*
Jan. 27 vs. New Orleans*
Jan. 30 at Central Arkansas*
Feb. 6 vs. Houston Baptist*
Feb. 10 at Incarnate Word*
Feb. 13 vs. McNeese*
Feb. 17 at Nicholls*
Feb. 24 vs. Stephen F. Austin*
Feb. 27 vs. Southeastern*
March 3 at New Orleans*
March 6 vs. Central Arkansas*
March 10-13 Southland Conference Tournament