Bearkats to take on South Dakota in Coaches vs. Cancer Classic

Sam Houston State men’s basketball team return to action Friday against the winless South Dakota Coyotes in Bridgepoint, Conn.

The Bearkats are currently competing in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and lost their first game of the tourney in heartbreaking fashion last Sunday against UNLV.

Although the Kats lost by only two points, they are looking to drastically improve their performance against South Dakota.

“We need to take care of the ball better and limit our turnovers,” assistant coach Chris Mudge said. “Against UNLV, we had some stretches where we had several turnovers in a row that led to some easy baskets for UNLV.”

Through two games, junior forward Sean Goodwin is averaging the most points for the Bearkats this season with 11 points per game. Senior guard, and Southland Player of the Week, Kaheem Ransom is leading in assists with seven per game and senior center Michael Holyfield is leading in rebounds averaging around nine rebounds per game.

For the Bearkats, stats do not matter for them. Considering they are ranked 16th in the nation in assists per game and fifth in the nation in rebounds per game. Only team play and communication will get them the win tomorrow.

“I think playing as a team helps with our play because we share the ball on offense,” Holyfield said. “We have a lot of guys on this team that can score, and as a result, I think that makes us better. Another important thing is communication. It allows us to establish our defense and it makes sure all of us are on the same page.”

South Dakota has two primary scorers the Bearkats must zone in on if they want to improve their record to 2-1. Senior guard Brandon Bos is averaging 15.5 points per game for the Coyotes, while senior guard Tyler Larson is averaging 12 points per game.

“Defensively, we have to really get out to shooters. They have really good shooters and they are really smart,” Mudge said. “We are going to have to do a good job of being there and not giving open looks to these guys.”

The downfall for the Coyote guards is that they do not distribute the ball to their teammates very well. Neither Bos nor Larson averages more than three assists per game and the team as a whole only averages a total of nine assists.

“They have a new coach, and I think they are still trying to find out the system of what this coach wants. They will get better as time goes on,” Mudge said. “They are a very system-oriented team so they are not going to get a ton of assists. They are the opposite style of UNLV.”

As for the Bearkat offensive end, the Kats should be running full force tomorrow against a mediocre Coyote defense.

The tallest player on the South Dakota team is senior center Jay Hunter, who stands at 6 feet 10 inches. The Coyotes’ defense is only averaging two blocks and six steals per game, which is the main reason why SHSU’s offense should be firing on all cylinders.

“We need to be in attack mode and go downhill. We did that well against UNLV when they were playing man defense, but when they switched to the 3-2 zone, we stopped attacking a little bit,” Mudge said. “South Dakota will man us more than UNLV so we will have those opportunities to really get aggressive and get to the rim.”

Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m.

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