After falling behind 0-2 in conference play, the Bearkats men’s basketball team rattled off four straight wins to keep them in the hunt for the Southland crown. On Saturday night, they extended that streak to five games as they beat the University of Texas-Arlington 91-81.
Three Bearkat players scored in double digits as the Bearkats improved to 14-5 overall, 5-2 in SLC play. The loss dropped UTA to 11-9 and 4-3 in conference play.
The win puts the Bearkats in a tie for second place with Lamar in the Southland Conference. At the top of the conference, Northwestern (6-1) sits pretty with their one conference loss coming against Sam Houston State.
“It was a total team effort; that’s what I like about our group,” said Coach Bob Marlin. “They play hard, they play together, and no one cares who gets the credit.”
Senior Chris Jordan led all scorers with 24 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds and had six assists. For his efforts, Jordan was named the Southland Conference Aeropostale player of the week. Ryan Bright is the only other Bearkat to receive the honor when he accomplished the feat in November.
Jordan also scored 22 points last Thursday to help lead the Bearkats to a 68-64 victory over Southeastern Louisiana. He also moved into 25th place at SHSU with 948 career points. He is just 52 points shy of becoming the 19th Sam Houston men’s basketball player to score 1,000 points.
Aaron Wade and Jejuan Plair also came up big for the Bearkats, putting in 14 and 18 points, respectively. The most astounding stat for the Bearkats was free throw percentage. A team that normally shoots in the low 50’s, shot 75 percent on Saturday night. The Bearkats were also hot in the field, shooting 52 percent on the night.
“I don’t want to jinx us or anything but right now everybody is confident,” said Plair. “Anytime you can put together wins like we have, everyone plays better.”
The game was nearly put on ice at the end of the first half as Plair hit a three pointer at the buzzer to end the half and put the Kats up 43-31.
But, the press of the Mavericks in the second half cut the lead to five with 1:30 left. At that point, UTA started fouling, hoping to take advantage of the poor free throw percentage of some of the Kats.
“We intentionally fouled some of the guys that we thought would miss free throws,” said UTA coach Eddie McCarter. “But they stepped up and knocked them down.”
The Bearkats travel on Thursday to take on Northwestern State but will be back for another crucial game Saturday as they take on the Southeastern Louisiana Lions at Johnson Coliseum at 7 p.m.