The University of New Orleans men’s basketball team returns home for their first game at the Lakefront Arena since Dec. 6 when they square off with Central Baptist at 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday.
The Privateers (3-5) have only played two of their first eight games of the season at home and coach Mark Slessinger thinks a return to their homecourt for the next three games will be just what his young team needs to prepare for Southland Conference play. UNO’s next two games will be against conference-foes Lamar and Sam Houston State.
“We’re excited to be back home,” Slessinger said. “We’ve had some very demanding road games in November and December, so it will be nice to be back in the Lakefront Arena. We have three in a row at home so it will be a nice change of pace to have that.”
The Privateers went 1-2 on their most recent road trip, but that one win was perhaps their most impressive of the season thus far. UNO traveled to Southern Illinois and came away with a 56-52 victory after falling behind by double-digits in the second half.
Slessinger credits his team’s ability to stick together in a hostile environment as the main reason why they were able to pull off the win.
“The team just stayed together really well in that game,” Slessinger said. “We were able to put 40 complete minutes together with a young team. To see them finally put it all together was fun to watch.
“If you look at the win against SIU and the win against UTEP last year. that’s two pretty good non-conference wins to pick up on the road.”
Slessinger said another major reason for the team’s win against SIU and their overall improvement during the past few weeks has been the growth of their three sophomore guards, Christavious Gill, Tevin Broyles and Nate Frye.
The trio has combined for 22.6 points per game in the first three-game road trip of the season, but upped that number to 24.3 on the most recent one, including an 18-point performance by Broyles against Indiana, and Gill making the go-ahead layup to beat SIU.
“Christavious made some big shots for us against Southern Illinois and Tevin Broyles was playing at a very high level against Indiana,” Slessinger said. “All three of those guys are growing and learning how to play together. It’s going to be fun to watch them over the next couple of years, because they’ll have so much experience under their belt that they’ll be a hard match for people in our league.”