Newman currently sits in second place in the Heartland Conference, one game behind leader Arkansas-Fort Smith (McM's foe in its regular season finale on Saturday, March 2).
While the War Hawks can not impact the HC race because they are still on provisional status and their games do not official count in the standings, head coach Chris Beard's crew is looking to carry momentum into next week's National Christian College Athletic Association Central Region tournament in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
Last weekend's pair of wins at Oklahoma Panhandle State and at UT-Permian Basin were an encouraging sign for the War Hawks, especially considering road wins seemed about as scarce as a Halley's Comet sighting. Before last week's pair of victories, McMurry was just 2-7 on the opponent's home floor...a trait that seems to permeate the Heartland Conference competition, where there truly is no place like home.
McMurry is hoping to hold serve on its floor against the Newman squad which ranks second in the HC in scoring offense (76.5 p.p.g.), is fourth in scoring defense (67.0 p.p.g.) and tops the circuit in scoring margin (+9.5 p.p.g.).
The Jets are also tops in three-point field goal percentage defense (.306), steals (9.8 s.p.g.) and turnover margin (+7.08).
Despite falling to UA-Fort Smith last Saturday, 88-78, the Jets come into Abilene having won five of their last seven outings. NU also topped the War Hawks in McMurry's first Heartland Conference clash, 61-52, in Wichita, Kansas, back on Nov. 29.
In that last meeting, McM's Kenny Williams had a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds. However, Williams suffered a season-ending shoulder injury shortly after that and McMurry will have a different look this time around.
A trio of Jets average double digits, led by Shamar Acuay's 14.4 points per game. Acuay has come off the bench in 23 of 24 appearances . He also has a team-leading 43 steals on the year.
Marquis Cuyler - who had 19 points in the first bout with McMurry - averages 10.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Darrell Traylor rounds out the NU scoring leaders, also at 10.4 p.p.g. and 4.5 r.p.g. Traylor has amassed 43 assists and 41 steals in his 22 games played.
Takoby Jackson is one in a long line of War Hawks who have picked up the slack in the 15 games since losing Williams. Jackson has his scoring average at 14.1 p.p.g., while also hauling in 4.7 rebounds per game and making 1.9 steals per game. Just for good measure, the senior passes off an average of 2.2 assists per game, as well.
The balanced McM attack has no less than six other players averaging better than five points per game. The sextet includes Antonio Bell (9.5 p.p.g.), Alfred Perez (9.3 p.p.g.), DJ Stennis (6.8 p.p.g.), Connor Robinson (6.0 p.p.g.), Chris Campbell (5.8 p.p.g.) and Kaylim Noel (5.1 p.p.g.).
McMurry's team also finds itself prominently positioned in the latest Heartland statistical report.
McM is sixth in scoring offense (71.5 p.p.g.), but tops the league in scoring defense with a stingy 63.8 p.p.g. allowed. The War Hawks are also third in scoring margin (+7.7 p.p.g.), third in free throw percentage (.736), fourth in field goal percentage (.469), second in field goal percentage defense (.406) and third in three-point field goal percentage defense (.330).