Battle for first

The struggle for first place in the Southland Conference comes to Johnson Coliseum Saturday night, when the conference leading Sam Houston State Bearkats host in-state rival and second place team Stephen F. Austin.

In the first meeting, the Kats lost to SFA 77-70 in overtime at Nacogdoches on Jan. 18. The loss served as a wake up call for SHSU and has propelled them to a school record nine straight wins.

This time around finds the Lumberjacks coming into Sam’s house and having to face the Huntsville Hecklers.

“The crowd was instrumental in the game on Monday and we haven’t been beaten at home and I’m glad we are here,” head coach Bob Marlin said. ” I think they’ll bring a good crowd too so it should be a great crowd for the game.”

The Lumberjacks are led by center Percy Green who scored 25 points in the previous meeting between the two teams.

“We have to contain Percy Green,” Marlin said. “Along with Donald Cole, he is one of the best inside scorers in the league.”

Along with Green, the Kats need to slow down the conference’s second best scoring offense. The Bearkats boast one of the nation’s top field goal percentage defenses and is third in points allowed per game. With two of the conference’s leading scoring offenses and defenses, the game should be a classic battle.

Only half a game separates the two teams and the winner should find them selves in the driver’s seat come conference tournament time.

“Whoever wins this game is really in first place all by themselves,” senior Robert Shannon said. “They beat us the first time so it is a real big game for us.”

The Bearkats have gone with all their seniors in the starting lineup for the last few games and they have responded with spectacular play.

“We all look at it like this is our last season to do something, to go to the tournament,” Felton Freeman said. ” We had a good team last year but we couldn’t get it done. We look at it like it is our last chance and we are taking it serious.”

The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. The couch potatoes will once again be on hand for the game and Papa John’s will be handing out free pizza in the couch potato section. Admission is free with a student I.D.

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