More competitive Demons set for matchup with Big 12’s TCU

FORT WORTH, Texas – When the Northwestern State men’s basketball team walked off the floor at then-No. 14 Texas Tech after its season opener on Nov. 25, head coach Mike McConathy was not happy with his Demons.

Mainly, McConathy wanted to see more of a competitive nature from his team.

As Northwestern State prepares to see TCU, another Big 12 Conference foe, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, McConathy is in a much better frame of mind.

“We didn’t compete at the level we could in the Texas Tech game,” McConathy said. “We competed better against UTA and Louisiana Tech (this past weekend). I was really pleased with our improvement rebounding. At Texas Tech, we got outrebounded by 20-plus. In the next two games, we were outrebounded by four.”

Thursday’s game can be heard on 95.9 FM Kix Country and on the Demon Sports Network. Free streaming audio is available on and through the free Northwestern State Athletics app, which can be downloaded through the Apple or Android stores.

The Demons’ rebounding fortunes have been aided by the production of freshman Kendal Coleman, who started his career with consecutive double-figure rebounding games and is averaging nine rebounds per game.

Coleman and NSU (0-3) will be challenged by a TCU (3-0) frontline that features 6-foot-11 Kevin Samuel, who leads the Big 12 in rebounding (11 per game). The Horned Frogs also own the Big 12’s stingiest defense, allowing just 54 points per game in wins against Houston Baptist, Tulsa and Liberty.

That is where another area of improvement has McConathy feeling better than he did a few days ago. The Demons showed improvement from Game 1 to Game 2 and again to Game 3.

Northwestern State has seen its shooting percentage improve in each of its first three games. Included in that increase is similar growth in 3-point accuracy, topping out at 50 percent (10 for 20) in a 91-77 loss at Louisiana Tech on Nov. 29.

“We shot the ball much better against Louisiana Tech,” McConathy said. “We’re settling in and understanding what’s good and what’s bad, understanding what our strengths are. Even though we have a lot of players back, we are moving in three new players.

“One of those, LaTerrance Reed, isn’t really new, but he missed a lot of last year. He had 11 points on 3-for-4 shooting in Sunday’s game. Jamaure Gregg had a great game Sunday against Louisiana Tech with 21 (points) and eight (rebounds). He’s been really, really important for us.”

Perhaps the most important difference for the Demons in their second of two Big 12 matchups this season is when it happens.

“It will be a challenge for us, but it’s a game in the middle of other games,” McConathy said. “We played Texas Tech on an opening night after nothing had been going on since March. It will make a different to experience what we have experienced (at Texas Tech) to now go over and play such a well-coached TCU team. They will be extremely difficult.”