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100 Battles of the Border: Heated Cardinals-Pokes rivalry reaches milestone

SOUTHLAND MEN: McNEESE STATE (7-14) AT LAMAR (13-9)

• When: 4:30 p.m. today, or 30 minutes following women’s game

• Where: Montagne Center, Beaumont

• Webcast/Radio: ESPN3.com/KLVI-AM 560

• Southland records: Lamar 5-4, McNeese State 4-6

• Series record: Lamar leads 52-47; last meeting, McNeese won 77-74 in Beaumont on Feb. 29, 2016

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT – When the Lamar Cardinals return Saturday to renew their rivalry with McNeese State, it will be a historic moment in the series.

Saturday’s game will mark the 100th meeting between the two schools which is more commonly known as the Battle of the Border.

Rivalries – especially on the collegiate level – make competition that much more exciting and meaningful. It is in the days leading up these games that you will hear coaches and players alike use clichés like “you can throw the record books out the window” or “if we win only one game, we want it to be this one.” This is the game the Cardinals are preparing for Saturday, LU vs. McNeese – two schools that are separated by just 60 miles. It is a history of two schools that simply don’t like each other.

Historically, Big Red has held the advantage over McNeese posting a 52-47 (.525) record, but the Cowboys have held the upper hand in recent years. While the two schools have split the last four decisions, the Cardinals have lost five of the last seven meetings, and 10 of the past 15. The 2016-17 version of the Cardinals enter the week looking to reverse the course of this series which has been heavily in McNeese’s favor since the 1994-95 season. During that time the Cardinals are 12-25 (.324) against the Cowboys. LU has seen a win streak no greater than two games during this time, and that has happened only twice.

The Cardinals (13-9, 5-4 Southland) enter the week in a two-way tie for fifth (Incarnate Word) just a game back of Southeastern Louisiana in the win column. LU has won two of its last three and is coming off an impressive 21-point victory over Northwestern State. The rivalry contest against McNeese looms large for the Red and White as they look to stay in the hunt with the league’s

upper echelon and the schedule moves into the stretch run.

Saturday’s game is just as important for a McNeese squad looking to right the ship. After winning its first two conference games this year, the Cowboys have hit hard times and enter the week with a 6-14 (.300) overall record and in a two-way tied for 11th in the league standings (3-6, .333). McNeese is currently on the outside of the playoff race looking in, but have still have the last half of the schedule to make up ground. The Cowboys would like nothing better than to climb a rung of that conference ladder by beating LU. Last season, both schools won on the other’s home floor, but the Cardinals own a 35-14 (.714) record against McNeese at home.

The Cowboys enter the week having dropped three straight and six of their last seven. The Cowboys will be in San Antonio Thursday evening to face Incarnate Word before traveling to Beaumont. Saturday’s game will be the final game of a four-game road swing for McNeese.

The Cardinals lead the Southland averaging nearly 79 points per game. McNeese is averaging 69 points per night but have struggled defensively at times this season surrendering 79 points per night. McNeese is led by Jamaya Burr and Kalob Ledoux offensively. Burr is averaging nearly 12 points per contest, while Ledoux is just over 10 per game.

Junior Colton Weisbrod (15.5 ppg) and sophomore Nick Garth (11.5 ppg) lead the Cardinals offensively, but sophomore Josh Nzeakor has converted himself into another option. He has hit double figures in each of the last four games, and is averaging 12.5 points and 9.0 rebounds for the Cardinals during that stretch.

Saturday’s game will tip off no earlier than 4:30 p.m. (or 30 minutes following the conclusion of the women’s game) from the Montagne Center. It can be seen live on ESPN3 and heard on Newstalk 560 KLVI.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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