By releasing the 20-game Southland Conference slate for his team's 2019-20 season Wednesday morning, SFA men's basketball head coach Kyle Keller put the finishing touches on a 31-game regular season schedule that begins in just over two months.
"Our staff feels as though we have really challenged our young team this year with an outstanding schedule that gives our Lumberjacks many opportunities for growth as we prepare for Southland Conference play," commented the 'Jacks' fourth-year bench boss. "Each league game matters so very much in the race for the conference title and I am excited that we have added two more conference games this season. The Southland continues to make fantastic strides for the coaches and student-athletes that compete within it."
With the Southland upping the number of league contests from 18 in 2018-19 to 20 this upcoming season, the 'Jacks will play 20 Southland games for the first time since the 2002-03 season. From the 2000-01 through the 2002-03 seasons, the Southland boasted a 20-game league schedule before deciding to shrink the number of league games down to 16 prior to the start of the 2003-04 campaign.
The 'Jacks first regular season Southland showdown comes on Wednesday, Dec., 18, when SFA hosts Houston Baptist for both teams' league opener. From there, SFA faces McNeese (Dec. 21), Southeastern Louisiana (Jan. 2) and New Orleans (Jan. 4) all on the road before coming back to William R. Johnson Coliseum for its first of three home Southland games in that month as Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Jan. 8) pays a visit to Texas' oldest town.
Three of SFA's last five Southland games in January take place on the road as the 'Jacks will head to Central Arkansas (Jan. 13), Northwestern State (Jan. 22) and Lamar (Jan. 25). SFA's remaining home games in January are clashes with Incarnate Word (Jan. 18) and Abilene Christian (Jan. 29).
Of SFA's eight Southland games in February, five will be played in Nacogdoches as the 'Jacks host Nicholls (Feb. 5), New Orleans (Feb. 8), Central Arkansas (Feb. 19), Northwestern State (Feb. 26) and Lamar (Feb. 29). Not once in February will SFA leave the state of Texas as its three Southland road tests send it to Sam Houston State (Feb. 1), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Feb. 12) and Incarnate Word (Feb. 22).
March means the Southland Conference Tournament looms and SFA will doubtlessly be hoping to strengthen its league tournament resume with a road game at Abilene Christian (March 3) before closing its league schedule at home with a showdown against hated Piney Woods rival Sam Houston State (March 7).
"Playing Southland games before Christmas presents a unique challenge to and our staff and student-athletes," Keller continued. "Because of that we really tried to maximize what we could do to help our team's learning curve through the first six weeks of the season. I am very enthusiastic about watching our league race play out throughout the 2019-20 season."