Lions set for SEC showdown with Ole Miss

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 11: (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

JACKSON, Miss. – The Southeastern Louisiana men’s basketball team returns to action after an 11-day lay-off for final exams, Wednesday night at 6:30 against Ole Miss at Mississippi Coliseum.

The Lions (4-4) are coming off a thrilling come-from-behind victory against Tulane, 62-61, Dec. 1 in New Orleans, Louisiana. SLU trailed 57-46 with 4:36 to go before mounting a furious rally, capped off by a game-winning three-pointer by senior Marlain Veal with two seconds left.

“I’ve always thought this team had high character and we showed it (against Tulane),” said fifth-year SLU head basketball coach Jay Ladner. “Even though they made a big run at the end of the first half, I never felt like we were out of the game. I thought the last four minutes of the game was the best we looked all year and then of course Marlain (Veal) hit the big shot.”

After an 11-day lay-off, SLU will take on the revitalized Rebels (6-2) Wednesday, who finished the 2017-18 season 12-20.

“The break was not really optimal because we gained so much momentum with the win (at Tulane),” said Ladner. “But academics are the priority and always will be with exam week last week. But I think it helped us from a basketball standpoint as well because it gave us a chance to get a few guys that were nicked up healthy and ready to go. Not to mention, it’s been a grind these first eight games so it gave us a chance to reevaluate some of the guys and tighten up our execution on both sides of the ball. All and all, the break was very good for us.”

The game will be played in familiar territory for Ladner who coached 20 years at St. Stanislaus High School in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Mississippi Coliseum is the site of The Mississippi High School State Tournament. Ladner guided St. Stanislaus to the state tournament 10 times including winning the 2011 MHSAA 4A State Championship where he guided SSC to a 34-2 record.

“It’s a great opportunity to play there,” said Ladner. “It’s a great recruiting area and a chance for us to showcase who we are. We have several current and former Lions from that area so to get to go back there and play at the mecca for basketball in Mississippi is always special. I’m truly excited about going home and with the amount of people that have reached out to me that are rooting for us. I’m looking forward to us having a ton of support Wednesday night.”

Ole Miss, under first-year head coach Kermit Davis, returns two of their top three scorers from a year ago in Breein Tyree and Terrence Davis. Tyree (G, 6-2, 195, Jr.) leads the team averaging 18.4 points per game. Davis (G, 6-4, 205, Sr.), the Pre-Season All-SEC Second Team selection, is scoring 15.4 a game.

“Coach Davis has been very successful,” said Ladner. “Ole Miss certainly made a great choice hiring him, not to mention how talented his team is. They look really impressive on film so we need to be locked in and execute on both sides of the ball. But we certainly understand the task in front of us.”

Southeastern is led by senior Moses Greenwood in points (15.8) and rebounds (8.0) per game. The Sharon, Mississippi native had to leave the game against Tulane with 8:46 remaining after being inadvertently elbowed in the eye in a scramble for a loose ball requiring several stitches.

“He has barely missed a beat,” said Ladner. “He missed one day of practice because the trainer made him sit out. But I’ve barely noticed because he hasn’t looked any different. He’s still practicing just as hard as though nothing happened. For the fans out there that haven’t gotten to see Moses Greenwood play, if you want to see someone that personifies what is right about college basketball then he is that. He plays hard every night and is hard-nosed and has been a true privilege to coach.”

Veal, the Pre-Season First-Team All-Southland selection, is second on the team in scoring (14.4) and rebounding (5.1) and leads the team in assists (39), steals (18) and free throws made (35).

The Lions’ defense continued its torrid pace holding Tulane to 62 points and forcing 17 turnovers. Southeastern has held their last five opponents to a stifling 114-for-269 shooting (42 percent).

SLU’s search for a third scoring option seems to be narrowing down. Senior Keith Charleston scored 13 points against Louisiana College and added seven against the Green Wave. Junior Kajon Brown had nine points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Dec. 1 win over Tulane.

Article Courtesy of Southeastern Sports Information Department