Bearkats to host #18 Loyola-Marymount

For only the eighth time since Sam Houston State University moved up to the NCAA Division I level in men’s basketball, the Bearkats have the opportunity to host a major Division I program at Johnson.

Loyola Marymount comes to Huntsville Wednesday. The Lions are led by All-America candidate Matthew Knight, a 6-8 senior center who led Loyola-Marymount to the West Coast Conference tournament finals where the Lions came within a last second missed layup of upsetting Gonzaga.

This season, Loyola-Marymount is viewed by the experts of the West Coast Conference team most likely to be able to knock Gonzaga (currently No. 18 in the nation) out of the league title. The Lions first gained national attention in 1990 when Jeff Fryer broke an NCAA record with 11 three-pointers in LMU’s 149-115 win over Michigan. They boasted the nation’s top scoring offense led by Bo Kimble and Hank Gathers.

“It’s tough to get strong NCAA Division I programs to play here, so it’s exciting to have this opportunity,” SHSU head coach Bob Marlin said. “This is going to be an exciting evening for our team.”

Loyola-Marymount brings a 6-3 record into Wednesday’s contest. Among the teams the Lions have defeated are New Mexico State, California-Santa Barbara, Cal St.-Bakersfield, and Oral Roberts. Their three losses have come at the hands of California, USC, and Mississippi State. They lost in the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout, playing three games on ESPN.

Brandon Worthy, a 6-2 guard, is the Lions leading scorer with an 18.3 average. Knight is averaging 16.3 points.

Only six times before have major NCAA Division I programs visited Johnson.

Those opponents include Mississippi in 1989, Wyoming in 1990, Rice in 1993, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Houston in 1997, Texas A&M in 1998, and Southern Mississippi last year.

Sam Houston posted wins over Southern Miss (a 1991 NCAA participant) by a 61-57 score and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (who made its most recent NCAA tournament appearance in 2004 and returns to Huntsville on Dec. 22) 69-67 in 1997.

The Bearkats lost against each of the other teams, falling to Mississippi 96-70, Wyoming 98-84, Rice 83-64, Houston 67-64, Texas A&M 73-70.

Fans who bring a new unwrapped, unopened toy to Wednesday’s game will receive half-price admission to the contests. The special “Holiday Toy Drive” at Bearkat basketball home games will benefit the Good Shepherd Mission in Huntsville. The mission helps underprivileged children during the holiday season who might not otherwise have an enjoyable Christmas.

Regular admission price to each game is $6 but fans who bring a toy will be admitted for $3. The Good Shepherd Mission will have there van outside the main entrance with a collection box for all toys. Everyone who donates a toy will be given a voucher to redeem at the ticket window for half price admission. Each person must bring a toy to receive the half price admission.

Sam Houston State is 5-3 after an 81-78 victory over Alcorn State.

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