Head Coach: Heath Schroyer Location: Lake Charles, LA Conference: Southland Nickname: Cowboys
Mascot: Rowdy Last season: 15-17 Line: Nebraska by 14.5
Player to watch: Dru Kuxhausen
Named to the All-Southland Conference preseason first team, Scottsbluff native Kuxhausen is one of the best 3pt shooters in Div 1 as he set the school and conference record with 125 makes last year. It's easier said than done to just stick a man on Kuxhausen as the Cowboys will run his man through plenty of screens and curls to generate looks. Deadeye FT shooter.
Player to watch: AJ Lawson
The big PG is a nice compliment to the diminutive Kuxhausen, able to guard the opposing team's SG on defense and drive into the open lanes or contact on offense. Last year it was Lawson who took the lion's share of the shot and expect that to continue in 2020. Lawson is turnover prone so there will be opportunity for Nebraska to score some easy transition buckets.
The Rest of the Roster
Carlos Rosario is a JUCO PF, a non-3pt threat. Keyshawn Feazell was a seldom used post player at Mississippi St who saw action vs Nebraska in the 2018 NIT game. Florida Gulf Coast transfer Zach Scott averaged double digits thanks to volume shooting. This also describes Louisiana Tech transfer Ra'Shawn Langston. Smaller guard Myles Hutchinson does make shots but has a lot of competition for playing time in this guard heavy roster. Chris Orlina and Jeremy Harrell are size. Finally in this upperclassman heavy squad we have redshirt freshman guard Collin Warren that the Cowboys have listed as a potential starter. The springy PG won their dunk competition last year and possibly will help in the ball security and/or defensive departments.
UNL Game Notes
2020 has been a rough year. It's been especially rough on the McNeese St Cowboys as in addition to Covid-19, Lake Charles was hit by two hurricanes, Laura in August and Delta in October. The city and thus McNeese St's campus was torn to shreds with the school suffering 70+ million in damages. The basketball team spent most of the summer playing on another campus and their basketball arena will not be ready for 20-21.
Still under 50 years old, head coach and now interim athletic director Heath Schroyer has been coaching in the college ranks for almost 30 years with HC stints at Portland St, Wyoming, and Tennessee Martin. Additionally he's been a high level recruiter for UNLV, NC State, and BYU and has assembled a roster with more talent than your average Southland school. Schroyer has changed his style over the years so you might see his small team trying to run in this game which should benefit Nebraska. His defenses tend to take away the paint so we'll find out if Nebraska has indeed improved their 3pt shooting from last year.
The Huskers once again overhauled most of their roster and I don't have enough time to ask all the questions that most likely won't be answered after one game unless the answer is losing another home opener to a team we paid to be here. Two easy things to track will be how Nebraska looks on the boards and how they execute the half court offense. Last year Nebraska couldn't buy a rebound. This year's team with plus length at most every position should be able to best the smaller Cowboys. Offensively Nebraska should be able to generate a good look against a team like this with double digits on the shot clock. Is the ball moving? Is Nebraska making the simple plays?
Circling back from my opening about all that McNeese St has gone through just to make it to Nebraska for the opening of college basketball I don't think you'll find the Cowboys will play like a team brought in here to lose. Last season they almost beat Texas and probably give the 2019-20 Huskers all they can handle. The Huskers will most likely need some of the composure that last year's team undeniably lacked. This should be a manageable opening test for a Nebraska team with not a whole lot of runway before they're playing nothing but Power 5 schools.
Look for Nebraska to end up winning comfortably if the Cowboys want to run and perhaps sweat a bit if McNeese is here to muck things up.