AUSTIN, Texas – The Southland Conference Tournament Champion Northwestern State men's basketball team is looking to earn its third-ever NCAA Tournament win as the Demons match up with Florida in South Region action on Friday night at the Frank Erwin Center.
The third-seeded Gators will take on the 14th-seeded Demons at 6:27 p.m. CST on TRUTV.
Friday will mark NSU's (23-8) first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the 2005-06 season when the ‘14th-seeded Demons of Destiny' upset third-seeded Iowa 64-63.
The SEC Champion Gators enter Friday's contest with a 26-7 record, the third most efficient defense in the nation and abundant experience in the NCAA event.
This will be Florida's 13th NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach Billy Donovan and 18th overall. The Gators have advanced to at least the Elite Eight in four of the last seven seasons.
These facts don't scare the Demons.
"We don't like the term ‘underdog,' said NSU senior O.J. Evans. "We come out and compete just like the next team, hopefully we will prove that tomorrow night."
Two of the biggest advantages for the Demons will be their depth and speed.
"I think our up tempo style helps us because, when you look at our stat line, we get good numbers from different guys every night," said NSU head coach Mike McConathy. "Florida is very good all-around and, defensively, they are going to make it extremely hard on you to be able to get anything easy.
"They're going to try to make you make mistakes. I think one of the keys for us will be to take care of the ball and not let ourselves get put in a position where we have live ball turnovers."
Junior DeQuan Hicks leads NSU in scoring at 14.1 points per game and also ranks 10th in the nation with a field goal percentage of 58.6.
Shamir Davis (12.5), James Hulbin (12.1) and Jalan West (10.3) also average double-figure points for the Demons.
Davis led NSU last Saturday in the SLC Tournament Championship game with a team-high 19 points.
The winner of Friday's game advances to meet the winner of the UCLA-Minnesota contest in Sunday's second round.