THIBODAUX, La. — Bolstered by back-to-back league victories to close out a three-game home-opening stretch, the Nicholls State University men’s basketball program (4-5, 2-1 SLC) shifts focus to the team’s first Southland Conference roadtrip of the season, opening the seven-day trek at Northwestern State (2-12, 1-2 SLC) on Wednesday, Jan. 13 in Natchitoches, La., tip set for 6:30 p.m.
Following back-to-back games holding opponents under 70 points, the Red & Gray’s recent defensive crackdown continues to show improvement across multiple statistical rankings, including steals per game (8.0, fifth in SLC), turnovers forced (15.2, seventh in SLC) and scoring defense (72.9, sixth in SLC). Notably, Nicholls has jumped up multiple spots in blocked shots per game (3.9, third in SLC) primarily due to the efforts of senior Ryghe Lyons, who vaulted up to first league-wide in both blocked shots per game (1.9) and total blocks (17) after a season-high four swats in Saturday’s blowout win over Southeastern Louisiana.
On the offensive end, redshirt junior Ty Gordon continues the electric start to his career donning the Red & Gray, now ranking eighth conference-wide in points per game (14.1) after posting his eighth double-digit scoring performance in nine attempts. Fellow redshirt junior Najee Garvin composed the best week of his short time with the Colonels as well, averaging 18.0 points across two games and pulling down a combined 16 boards; the South Carolina native has even moved up inside the Southland’s top five in rebounds per game, pulling down 7.3 on average for a fourth ranking.
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- Austin Claunch remains in his third season at the helm for the Red & Gray, sporting a 39-32 (24-17 SLC) overall record with the Colonels.
- The team boasts seven seniors: G Kevin Johnson, C Ryghe Lyons, G Jeremiah Buford, G Andre Jones, G Jaylen Fornes, F Damien Sears and G Shawn Williams.
- This year’s roster is highlighted by 11 newcomers, including: six transfers from fellow Division I collegiate programs, two who joined the ranks via JUCO programs and another trio who signed on directly from high school. Of the six DI transfers, three — redshirt senior G Jaylen Fornes (UNC-Wilmington) along with redshirt juniors G Isaac Johnson (Western Illinois) and F Najee Garvin (Charlotte) — are of specific note, as each enter the season with one full year with the program after sitting out 2019-20 due to NCAA transfer restrictions.
- This season’s depth chart features seven players from across the state of Louisiana, a pair from Little Rock, Ark., and one from each of the following: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Minnesota and Texas.
- The Colonels were projected to finish fourth in the Southland Conference, per the league’s preseason poll. Notably, Nicholls had yet to notch a single-digit ranking since the 2014-15 poll, in which the Red & Gray pulled off an eighth-place finish.
- Nicholls returns two of last season’s five starters: senior G Kevin Johnson and redshirt senior G Andre Jones.
Following the Southland road opener at Northwestern State, the Colonels continue the three-game away set with a trip further north to Conway, Ark., taking on Central Arkansas on Saturday, Jan. 16.
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