NATICHTOCHES, La. (NSU) - For the first time since the 2014-15 season, the Northwestern State men’s basketball program will host a Conference USA school in Prather Coliseum.
Rice will come to town Nov. 17 to return a game from the 2016-17 season in which an NSU second-half flurry fell short in a 100-93 loss.
The Owls will be one of three NSU nonconference home games as coach Mike McConathy announced his 11-game nonconference schedule Wednesday.
“This game is huge for us,” McConathy said. “This game is equivalent to when Tulane came here (2004-05) and we had a nice crowd and got a great win.
“Getting Rice here is a really good thing.”
NSU hosted fellow Conference USA member Louisiana Tech in 2014-15. Other home nonconference games against Division I opponents since 2013-14 include UL Monroe (twice), Niagara and UL Lafayette.
The Demons’ two other nonconference home games this season include Division III LeTourneau (Nov. 12) and NAIA member Lyon College (Nov. 29).
NSU will play two games in the Jamaica Classic Montego Bay Multi-Team Event, a nonconference event in which teams from across the country match up.
McConathy said Colorado State needed a home game in the event, which prompted the Demons to join. NSU will include its LeTourneau home game in the event.
“We had the option of adding two additional games if we wanted that wouldn’t count against the NCAA maximum for regular season games, but we decided against it,” McConathy said. “We played in a similar event (in 2011-12) where we played at Alabama State, Marshall and Cincinnati in a five-day period, and that was a weird travel deal where we were physically whipped.”
That Colorado State contest (Nov. 24) will be one of two western trips this season as Pac-12 member Utah (Dec. 20) is also on the docket.
NSU played at fellow Pac-12 member Arizona in 2015-16.
“It’s opportunity to go somewhere different,” McConathy said. “We went to Arizona two years ago.
“We’ve been to UTEP a couple of times. It’s a great opportunity to go to different places this year.”
Utah is one of three Power Five opponents with a road trip to Texas kicking off the season on Nov. 10 and Oklahoma on Dec. 19, creating a back-to-back situation with Utah on Dec. 20.
NSU has played a Big 12 Conference opponent the past six seasons, including in 2014-15 with two Big 12 opponents.
The Demons will play three nonconference away games in Louisiana, heading to ULM (Nov. 21) before hitting Louisiana College (Dec. 9) in the Alexandria Classic at Rapides Coliseum and LSU-Shreveport (Dec. 16) in the Shreveport-Bossier Holiday Classic in the Gold Dome.
“I felt like it was important to play in Shreveport and Alexandria,” McConathy said. “We did it for LSU-Alexandria and Centenary because we want to go into those markets.
“It’s a fair thing to do for the other schools in those markets. It’s not the most advantageous thing for us other than from a marketing standpoint, but that’s very important to us.”
NSU’s lone other nonconference game is a road trip to SMU on Nov. 15.
“It’s a tough schedule, but getting Jalan West back for a seventh season will be huge,” McConathy said. “This team really came on at the end of last season, winning four of the last five games, including wins against (regular season and tournament champion) New Orleans and (No. 3 seed) Stephen F. Austin.”
2017-18 NSU Nonconference Schedule
Nov. 10 at Texas TBA
Nov. 12 LeTourneau! 4 p.m.
Nov. 15 at SMU TBA
Nov. 17 Rice 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 21 at ULM TBA
Nov. 24 at Colorado State! TBA
Nov. 29 Lyon College 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 9 Louisiana College# TBA
Dec. 16 LSU-Shreveport$ TBA
Dec. 19 at Oklahoma TBA
Dec. 20 at Utah TBA
! – Jamaica Classic Montego Bay MTE
# - Alexandria Classic in Rapides Coliseum
$ - Shreveport-Bossier Holiday Classic, Centenary’s Gold Dome