Sam Houston State’s men’s basketball looks to stay undefeated in Southland Conference as the Bearkats host defending SLC champions, and university rival, Stephen F. Austin State on Saturday.
Both teams enter the Battle of the Piney Woods’ hardwood edition undefeated in conference.
SHSU heads into the contest with a 10-game winning streaking while SFA looks to continue their impressive winning streak, seeking their 14th win in a row against the familiar Bearkats.
The last time these two teams faced off was in last year’s SLC Championship where the Lumberjacks took down the Bearkats 68-49 at the Merrell Center in Katy. The game was broadcast on ESPN 2.
In this year’s matchup, the Bearkats start the season off 14-4. The Lumberjacks lead the SLC with a 15-3 overall record with their losses coming from Northern Iowa, Xavier and Baylor.
The Bearkats leading scorer is senior guard DeMarcus Gatlin with 11.4 points per game with senior guard Jabari Peters close behind with 10.4 PPG.
SFA leading scorers Thomas Walkup and Jacob Parker are both averaging right below 14 PPG.
Both SHSU and SFA are high scoring basketball teams ranking in the top five in the SLC only behind Incarnate Word and Northwestern State. The Jacks and Kats are also top two in the conference in scoring defense by allowing less than 62 PPG.
The one factor in SHSU’s favor is rebounding. The Lumberjacks rank eighth in the Southland in total rebounds. The Bearkats leads the Conference with 43.9 boards a game with senior center Michael Holyfield averaging nine per game.
Taking care of the ball will be factor in the rivalry matchup as SFA averages 14.5 turnovers per game and SHSU with 14.1 TPG.
Senior guard Kaheem Ransom is the assist leader for the Bearkats with 4.4 assists per game and will be the deciding decision maker against the Lumberjacks.
After a blowout win against Nicholls State on Tuesday, revenge is the only thing the Kats are thinking about after losing to SFA three times last year. If the Kats drop the rival match, it will be the second straight season the Jacks have handed SHSU its first conference loss.
Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m. at Johnson Coliseum in Huntsville.