After surviving an upset in their conference opener against Southeastern Louisiana last week, the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team bounced back to defeat Nicholls State 61-51 on Saturday. The Bearkats (12-3, 1-1 SLC) look to pick up their second conference win today as they travel to Lake Charles to take on the McNeese State Cowboys (7-6, 1-0 SLC) at 7 p.m.In their first conference game of the year, the Cowboys battled for a 67-59 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to begin the season 1-0 in Southland Conference play.The Christmas break looked to be a springboard for the Bearkats heading into conference play with home victories over Central Florida and California-Irvine. Sam Houston State received votes in the AP College Basketball Top 25 for five consecutive weeks, including four votes in the ESPN/USA Today Poll on Dec. 24. Yet after going 10-0 to start the season, the Bearkats fell at San Diego State 79-78 in overtime on Dec. 28 for their first loss of the year. Their next defeat came at the hands of Southeastern Louisiana (9-6, 1-1 SLC) in the Bearkats’ conference opener. In the same week that other SLC powerhouses Texas-Arlington and Stephen F. Austin were handed surprise upsets in their conference openers, the Bearkats were toppled by the Lions on their home court in an astonishing 61-58 loss to begin conference play 0-1. In that loss, DeLuis Ramirez scored a game-high 14 points followed by Ryan Bright, who had a double-double performance of 13 points and 12 rebounds.Going into the contest against McNeese State, senior Shamir McDaniel is averaging 12.5 points per game to lead the Bearkats’ in scoring, followed by Bright with 11.1 points per game and Ramirez with 9.9 points per game. McDaniel also leads the team in three-pointers, shooting 46.9 percent.In the Bearkat’s win over Nicholls State, McDaniel claimed top scoring honors with 14 points, including 4-of-7 three-pointers, followed by junior Reggie Rawlins with 12 points. Bright led the team in rebounding with 11 grabs while Ryan Bennett hit a team-high 4-of-6 shots from the free-throw line.The Cowboys leading scorer, Jarvis Bradley, is averaging 13.4 points per game with John Ford coming in with 9.4 points per game. In their conference victory over the Islanders (3-11, 0-1 SLC), Stephan Martin scored a game-high 18 points while Bradley was held to six rebounds. After their game against the Cowboys, the Bearkats travel to Lamar on Saturday at 7 p.m. and return home on Jan. 24 to face SFA in Johnson Coliseum at 7 p.m.