LAKE CHARLES – When discussing his team’s offense, 22nd-year Northwestern State men’s basketball coach Mike McConathy sounded more like a contractor extolling the virtues of the interior and the exterior.
More specifically, McConathy was looking to build his offense from the inside out as the Demons head to McNeese for a 4 p.m. Saturday Southland Conference game inside Burton Coliseum.
The game can be heard on 95.9 FM and the Demon Sports Network while free streaming audio is available through www.NSUDemons.com and the Northwestern State Athletics mobile app, which can be downloaded for Apple or Android devices.
“We have to have more inside-outside action,” McConathy said. “By establishing the interior, it will lead to more exterior shots for our players.”
A more efficient and productive inside game should free up Northwestern State (1-12, 0-2) to shake off a three-game dip in its outside shooting.
Entering the Dec. 23 matchup at Washington State, the Demons were shooting 34.9 percent (83-for-238) from 3-point range. As it prepares to face McNeese (6-4, 0-1), Northwestern State has seen its 3-point aim drop to 32.4 percent (105-324).
Action beyond the 3-point arc should be common Saturday as the matchup features the top two 3-point shooters in terms of made 3-pointers in the conference – McNeese’s Dru Kuxhausen (40 made 3s) and the Demons’ Jairus Roberson (38).
Roberson has hit at least three 3-pointers in each of his past five games although he and Kuxhausen operate differently within their respective systems.
“They’re going to run things especially for (Kuxhausen),” McConathy said. “Slim (Roberson) gets his chances from people penetrating and kicking and being able and ready to catch and shoot in transition.”
Kuxhausen is far from the only Cowboy who has NSU’s attention.
Forward KeyShawn Feazell leads the Southland Conference in double-doubles (5) and would pace the conference in rebounding (13.0) had he played enough games to qualify.
“AJ Lawson and Feazell are special players,” McConathy said. “We’re going to have to take it and go at them. They’re talented. We’re going to show up and go to work.”
While the Demons are searching for their first Southland Conference victory, McConathy said the final three-plus minutes of Wednesday’s loss to Incarnate Word could provide NSU with a needed momentum boost.
That statement came with a caveat.
“Toward the end of the game, I saw some guys play with more enthusiasm and effort,” McConathy said. “But you know what fixes things? Making shots fixes things. I’m really proud of the effort the last 3:09 (Wednesday). Now we have to extend it to where we’re doing it a lot more.”