Southland Power Rankings: Big Three Hold Serve, ORU Bounces Back

Shawn Glover and Oral Roberts dominated a pair of home games this week. - Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, and Northwestern State held serve atop the Power Rankings this week while Oral Roberts bounced back in a big way. This sets the stage for a huge two week stretch of games at the top of the Southland standings.

1. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 22-2, 11-0 (Last week: 1st): The streaking Lumberjacks did it again this week, sweeping a pair of home games at William R. Johnson Coliseum. SFA has now won 30 consecutive games at Johnson, or "The Sawmill" as it seems to be becoming known as online. The 30 game win streak is currently the longest home winning streak in the country. The Jacks have now won 19 consecutive games in any location, a streak that is good for third longest in the nation. This week SFA heads out on the road where they will put their NCAA-best eight game road winning streak on the line and look to add to their NCAA-most 10 road wins on the season. After a game at Lamar, SFA faces second place Sam Houston State. A win over SHSU would all but lock up the regular season Southland championship. SFA defeated SHSU 73-56 at "The Sawmill" on January 4th. Next week, SFA returns home to host surging Northwestern State.

For the second consecutive week, SFA comes in at number eight in the Mid Major Madness Power 15.

Last week: W 93-64 vs Nicholls, W 74-54 vs McNeese

This week: Thu at Lamar, Sat at Sam Houston St (ESPN3)

2. Sam Houston State Bearkats 17-6, 9-2 (2nd): It was a quiet week for Sam Houston State, as they won their only contest beating travel partner Lamar. The Bearkats stormed out to a 48-27 halftime lead against the struggling Cardinals and cruised to the win. This week was quiet, but it was the calm before the storm for the second place Kats. SHSU has a monster week coming up as they host games against Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin.

Last week: W 84-70 vs Lamar

This week: Thu vs Northwestern St, Sat vs Stephen F. Austin (ESPN3)

3. Northwestern State Demons 11-11, 7-4 (3rd): Northwestern State remained red hot this week sweeping a pair of home games, both by double digit margins, against in-state conference rivals. After a 1-4 start in league play, the Demons are now 7-4 and are reminding everyone why they were a popular preseason pick to win the SLC. Against McNeese, Jalan West scored 30 points with eight assists, four steals, and four rebounds. DeQuan Hicks added 19 points and 13 boards. Against Nicholls the Demons got a more balanced effort, with Hicks leading the way with 17 points and nine boards. Northwestern State enters this big two week stretch of Southland basketball breathing down Sam Houston State's neck.

Last week: W 85-74 vs McNeese, W 86-73 vs Nicholls

This week: Thu at Sam Houston St, Sat at Lamar

4. Incarnate Word Cardinals 18-5, 6-4 (7th): DI newbie Incarnate Word kept their remarkable debut season going this week with a pair of home wins, though they might have been closer than expected. Against a talented A&M-CC squad, Incarnate Word built an impressive double digit lead and held on for the win. Denzel Livingston scored 20. Against HBU, the Cardinals trailed by as many as 10 with 11 minutes to play but that is when Livingston threw the Cards on his back, scoring 24 of his whopping 36 points in the final 10 minutes and overtime.

Last week: W 82-78 vs A&M-Corpus Christi, W 89-82 (OT) vs Houston Baptist

This week: Thu vs Abilene Christian (ESPN3)

5. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles 12-12, 6-5 (9th): Oral Roberts responded after a four game losing streak winning a pair of home games in dominant fashion. The Golden Eagles didn't trail for a second in either game. ORU returned home and smacked down a hot New Orleans squad on Thursday. Southland Player of the Year candidate Shawn Glover had 27 points, eight rebounds, and eight blocks while Korey Billbury added 21 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists in the win. Against Southeastern, in front of a Homecoming crowd of over 6,000 fans, Glover and Billbury both scored 21 while Glover added 11 rebounds.

Last week: W 79-59 vs New Orleans, W 71-54 vs Southeastern Louisiana

This week: Thu at Houston Baptist, Sat at A&M-Corpus Christi

6. New Orleans Privateers 9-10, 6-5 (5th): New Orleans split a pair of road games this week, wrapping up a five game road trip. Coach Mark Slessinger's Privateers won four of the five games. After a blowout loss at Oral Roberts, New Orleans responded with a comfortable win at Central Arkansas. The game went back and forth for the first 23 minutes as the teams swapped the lead 16 times, but UNO grabbed the lead for good with 17:06 remaining and held on the rest of the way. Senior Cory Dixon scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Freshman Christavious Gill cooled off a tad from his recent torrid pace, but still scored 12 points in both of this week's games.

Last week: L 79-59 at Oral Roberts, W 88-79 at Central Arkansas

This week: Thu vs Nicholls, Sun vs McNeese

7. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders 11-14, 8-4 (6th): This week's "team probably ranked too low compared to their actual abilities" is the Islanders. A&M-Corpus Christi is currently third in the Southland standings, but hasn't been playing their best ball of late. This week, they split with the two DII transitionals and were one possession away from losing to both. Against Abilene Christian, the Islanders overcame a 20-4 deficit out of the gate and stormed ahead by 10 with 10 minutes to play. ACU rallied to take the lead in the final minute, but a Brandon Pye three pointer with seven seconds to play won it for the Islanders. John Jordan and Rashawn Thomas both scored 20 in the win.

Last week: L 82-78 at Incarnate Word, W 71-69 at Abilene Christian

This week: Thu vs Central Arkansas, Sat vs Oral Roberts

8. Nicholls Colonels 10-10, 7-4 (4th): Doubters would say Nicholls has gotten pretty lucky this year as their margins of victory in the league have been 5, 3, 4, 2, 8 (in OT), 1 (in OT), and 11. This week they had an opportunity to make a statement as they made the road swing through SFA and Northwestern State. Unfortunately for the Colonels, the trip resulted in a pair of losses. Unbeaten SFA blew Nicholls away. Against NWST, the Colonels attempted a pair of second half rallies pulling within four and three at different points of the last 10 minutes but both times the Demons answered to pull away for the win. Dantrell Thomas continued a season worthy of All-Conference consideration. The senior scored 17 in the blowout against SFA then followed that with 28 points and 10 rebounds against Northwestern State.

Last week: L 93-64 at Stephen F. Austin, L 86-73 at Northwestern St

This week: Thu at New Orleans, Sat at Southeastern Louisiana

9. McNeese State Cowboys 7-16, 5-6 (8th): McNeese dropped both games on the brutal NWST/SFA road swing this week. Turnovers hurt the Cowboys this week as they committed 23 against the Demons and 20 against the Lumberjacks. The Pokes were very competitive against Northwestern State, keeping the game within four points until a Demons spurt in the final three minutes put them away. Kevin Hardy had nine points and nine assists against NSU. Ledrick Eackles scored 23 against NSU and 15 against SFA.

Last week: L 85-74 at Northwestern St, L 74-54 at Stephen F. Austin

This week: Thu at Southeastern Louisiana, Sun at New Orleans

10. Central Arkansas Bears 6-16, 3-8 (11th): UCA used an impressive 18-0 second half run to sprint past Southeastern Louisiana to win their third conference game. Normally a poor free throw shooting team, the Bears made 21 against the Lions. LaQuentin Miles led the way making 11-of-15 from the line on his way to 21 points in the win. In their loss to New Orleans, Miles scored 28 points making 12 of his 17 field goal attempts.

Last week: W 85-71 vs Southeastern Louisiana, L 88-79 vs New Orleans

This week: Thu at A&M-Corpus Christi, Sat at Houston Baptist

11. Southeastern Louisiana Lions 9-13, 4-7 (10th): The Lions were soundly defeated twice this week on a quick two game road swing. Against UCA, the Lions surrendered an 18-0 run between the 10 and five minute marks of the second half, which turned a three point lead into a 15 point deficit and a blowout loss. Against ORU, Southeastern scored just seven first half field goals and were behind wire-to-wire. Leading scorer JaMichael Hawkins scored just five points on 1-of-12 shooting.

Last week: L 85-71 at Central Arkansas, L 71-54 at Oral Roberts

This week: Thu vs McNeese, Sat vs Nicholls

12. Abilene Christian Wildcats 8-16, 2-8 (12th): ACU's recent admirable play finally resulted in a win this week, and very nearly resulted in two. The Wildcats broke through beating last place HBU. Parker Wentz scored a career-high 27 points on an amazing shooting night. The sophomore made 8-of-11 from the floor and 10-of-11 from the free throw line. Against TAMUCC, Abilene stormed out to a 20-4 lead but trailed by 10 with 10 minutes to play. The Wildcats rallied to take a one point lead with 37 seconds remaining, but an Islander three pointer with seven seconds left and an ACU charging foul in the final second reversed the comeback and left ACU with a heartbreaking loss.

Last week: W 87-81 vs Houston Baptist, L 71-69 vs A&M-Corpus Christi

This week: Thu at Incarnate Word (ESPN3)

13. Lamar Cardinals 3-20, 2-9 (13th): In their only game this week, Lamar fell to Sam Houston State in what's become a familiar pattern. The Cardinals played a decent second half, beating Sam 43-36. But for the second straight game Lamar had a disastrous first half. After scoring just 11 in the first half last time out against TAMUCC, Lamar lost the first half to Sam by a 48-27 score.

Last week: L 84-70 at Sam Houston St

This week: Thu vs Stephen F. Austin, Sat vs Northwestern St

14. Houston Baptist Huskies 4-20, 1-11 (14th): The Huskies dropped both games against the DII transitionals this week. HBU's losing streak has reached eight games, and they have lost 15 of their last 16. Against Incarnate Word, HBU lost a 10 point lead in the second half. During the eight game streak they have also lost three games by two points.

Last week: L 87-81 at Abilene Christian, L 89-82 (OT) at Incarnate Word

This week: Thu vs Oral Roberts, Sat vs Central Arkansas

If the Southland Tournament started today…

First Round

#5 Nicholls (7-4) vs #8 Southeastern Louisiana (4-7)

#6 Oral Roberts (6-5) vs #7 McNeese (5-6)

Second round

#4 Northwestern State (7-4) vs Nicholls/SELA

#3 A&M-Corpus Christi (8-4) vs ORU/McNeese

Semifinals

#1 Stephen F. Austin (11-0) vs NWST/Nicholls/SELA

#2 Sam Houston State (9-2) vs TAMUCC/ORU/McNeese

The top eight finishers qualify for the Southland Conference tournament. New Orleans, Incarnate Word, and Abilene Christian are ineligible this season.

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