#5 Lions host #2 LSU-Shreveport tonight at 7pm
Teams almost met in last year's NAIA championship game
Preview of Players to Watch
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Tonight’s clash between No. 2 ranked LSU-Shreveport and No. 5 ranked Southwestern Assemblies of God University pits two teams with plenty of mutual respect.
Last year, not only were the pair fellow members in the Red River Athletic Conference, but they nearly met in the NAIA National Championship game in March.
For most observers, they should have.
LSU-Shreveport, like SAGU, struck it hot in Kansas City, winning their first three games. The Pilots even knocked off the No. 1 ranked and previously unbeaten Columbia College (Mo), who were 35-0 at the time.
The Lions thumped Lindsey Wilson College (Ky), who were ranked No. 2, to advance to the title game.
LSU-Shreveport took a late, one-point lead over Georgetown College (Ky), a team that finished third in the same league as Lindsey Wilson, the Mid-South Conference.
The Tigers spoiled the all-RRAC championship by draining an improbable three-pointer as the buzzer sounded, winning 90-88.
They went on to cage the Lions in the final. They also eliminated St. Thomas in their first game, meaning Georgetown went 3-0 against the Red River.
Tonight at 7:00pm, and again in two weeks at The Dock in Shreveport, the two friendly rivals will go at it on the hard-court.
While the Pilots (1-1) have three familiar returning players, the rest of their team is filled with an impressive crop of transfers and recruits.
Brandon Davis, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, is back and dominating both the front and backcourts for the River Pilots.
He is averaging 21 points and 12.5 rebounds a game. Number 10 will not be difficult to find. Wherever the ball is, his hands will be on it.
His other pair of returners are also guards; Tevin Hall and Mark Politte (poh-LEET). They share the team lead in assists, averaging 4.5 per game.
The baseline and paint has a noisemaking newcomer in 6’6 forward Will Nelson; 19.0 points per game, 10.5 rebounds per game. Reportedly, he does not wear a bandana and sing country music.
His game, however, is in tune.
Second year Head Coach Kyle Blankenship also landed two new guards in 5’7 Joseph James (17.0 ppg), who has sank eight triples in two games, and 6'1 Dundrecous Nelson (14.5 ppg).
SAGU is 2-0 with a line-up that is still missing a number of key players.
The projected starting quintet includes Caleb Gentry (Hondo, Tx / Hondo HS, Ok Wesleyan Univ) and Drew Erskine (Houston, Tx / Victoria West HS, Centenary College) at guard, 6-foot-5 Daniel Mills (Belton, Tx / Belton HS) at wing, 6’6 Caleb Feemster (Addison, Tx / Trinity Chr-Addison, Ranger College) at forward and 6’8 Remington Mitchell (Mansfield, Tx / Mansfield HS) at the post position.
Gentry is scoring 25.0 ppg and leads the NAIA in steals at six per game. Mills nets 21.0 ppg, while Feemster registers 16.0 ppg and 11.0 rpg.
Erskine (EHR-skin) has been a steady force for the squad, utilizing good ball skills, court vision and heady play. He has netted 8.0 ppg and 3.0 assists per game.
Mitchell, known as “Big Rem,” has grabbed 9.5 caroms per contest and is rejecting three shots per game.
The Lions have cashed in at the foul line (75%) and continue their “all out” brand of defense.
Tonight’s tall order will require much for the Purple and Gold.
Fans should be able to follow the game on the NAIA’s LiveStats at: http://www.dakstats.com/WebSync/Pages/Webcasts.aspx?association=10
LiveStats is a digital account of the game’s play by play, and includes, the score, time, and both team and player statistics in real time.
SAGU will be at home again on Thursday, Nov. 14, when they welcome Paul Quinn College for a 7:30pm game.