Men’s basketball tips off with 82-78 win over Athletes First of Oklahoma

The Sam Houston men’s basketball team tipped off the season Tuesday night with an 82-78 win over Athletes First of Oklahoma in an exhibition game at Johnson Coliseum.Bearkat head coach Bob Marlin said he was pleased with the outcome, but said the team has some areas to work on.”That was one of the best teams we have played in the exhibitions,” Marlin said. “They are a very big, physical team and that was good for us.”The Bearkats looked like a team playing the first game of the season. The Kats turned the ball over 17 times, and shot 53 percent from the free throw line.”We have to take better care of the ball. Seventeen turnovers is bad, really bad,” Marlin said. “That is one thing we have to improve on. Another is we have got to do a better job in the passing game and in the half-court offense. We did some good things, but there is a lot we have to work on.”The Kats held a seven-point lead at half time. The Bearkat lead stretched to 11 points early in the second half, but Athletes First went on a 15-0 run to take a four-point lead.The Bearkats responded with an 11-point run to take back the lead.”It felt like we were on the verge of knocking them out a couple of times and we couldn’t do it,” Marlin said. “We did some good things and some thing poor, but we were mentally tough enough to win.”With three minutes left in the game, Athletes First evened the score at 72. The Kats then reeled off six straight points to take control for good.Jason Stephenson led the team with 17 points, and Felton Freeman added 15. Donald Cole also scored 15 points and collected 12 rebounds. Red-shirt freshman Chris Jordan had 10 points, all in the first half, in his first game as a Bearkat.Two returning players, Eddy Fobbs and Eddy Barlow each had off nights for the Kats. Fobbs did not hit a field goal and finished with four points. Barlow also finished the game with only four points, but did have six assists and only one turnover.”Individually, I thought Eddy Fobbs did not play as well as he had practiced,” Marlin said. “Eddy Barlow has practiced lights out the past three weeks, and he got off to a slow start. He did have the six assists and one turnover, but we have to get better games from him.”Since this was the first game of the year, Marlin wanted to see the Bearkats in as many different game situations as possible. The players were tested with a close game in the final minutes, but Marlin said he would have like to have seen more.”They didn’t play any zone which surprised me,” Marlin said. “From a big, physical standpoint, that is one thing that will help us, especially in the early games playing against guys that are bigger and stronger than we are. But they didn’t really do as much as we thought they were going to do.”

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