The Demons (5-3) average 86.3 points per game, second only to Indiana. The Razorbacks (7-4) rank 10th nationally with an 82.5 average. The game will be carried on ESPN3 as well as the Demon Sports Network, flagshipped by 100.7 FM KZBL in Natchitoches and including 92.1 KSYR FM in Shreveport and 99.9 KTEZ FM in Many.
The teams have a common opponent, both battling down to the wire within a few days of each other against Oklahoma. The Sooners came from six down with six minutes left and edged visiting NSU 69-65 on Nov. 30, then were nipped 81-78 on Dec. 4 at Arkansas.
The game tips off a hectic stretch for NSU, which plays four times in a week and seven times in two weeks, including its first five Southland Conference games of the year.
“It won’t take long to shake off any cobwebs,” said Demons’ coach Mike McConathy. “Neither team will be standing around much Saturday night after the national anthem except during free throws and time outs. (Coach) Mike Anderson has Arkansas back to the Nolan Richardson-style of fast breaks and full court pressure, and we like to keep the game fast too. They have some very explosive players and will be a great challenge for us.”
B.J. Young (16.7 points per game) and Marshawn Powell (16.5) give Arkansas a strong perimeter game. The Demons counter with senior guard Shamir Davis (14.4) and redshirt freshman guard Jalan West (14.1 points, 5.3 assists pg), joined by junior forward DeQuan Hicks ( 14.9 points, 6.9 rebounds pg) and senior forward James Hulbin (11.5, 6.0) heading NSU’s attack.
"Northwestern State is one of top teams in the country in scoring," Anderson said. "They hit a high percentage of their shots, play 10-11 guys and have balance. They have quick guards that can attack and you have to cover their 3-point shooters.
“It’s one of those dangerous teams that has guys who can score, and they’re deep. It’s going to be a good test, an uptempo game that should be entertaining to watch. This is a pretty good basketball team.”
Anderson spoke about what he expected of the Razorbacks (7-4) coming into the matchup against Northwestern State. He talked about Arkansas' effort and attitude as they enter the game and about how the Razorbacks can't be caught looking at the name on the front of the jersey, but how they must approach every game the same way.
After Arkansas, NSU comes home for a Monday 2 p.m. contest in Prather Coliseum against LeTourneau. Southland Conference play begins at home next Thursday with a doubleheader against McNeese while Lamar will visit NSU next Saturday.
The Demons play three times on the road in the first full week of January, at Sam Houston State, Oral Roberts and Central Arkansas.