Kats basketball claws way to fourth place

The Sam Houston State University men’s basketball squad heads into Wednesday’s matchup against the University of Central Arkansas Bears with a pretty interesting road ahead of them over the next few weeks.

It is important when looking forward to first understand how SHSU got to this point in the season.

With an overall record of 18-11 (12-4 Southland Conference), the Kats have been able to get it done at home this season with a record at the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum of 13-1. At that mark, SHSU has the second-best record at home in the Southland Conference this season. This has been helped by wins against teams like New Orleans, Lamar and Southeastern Louisiana.

SHSU has won 13 out of their 14 home games this season by an average point differential of +10.857 points per game. In conference play, both home and away, SHSU has a point differential of +6.2 points per game, which is good for fourth in the conference behind Stephen F. Austin (+10.7), Nicholls (+10.6) and Southeastern La. (+7.0).

In the Bearkats last game Feb. 21, SHSU grabbed a three-point victory over UNO (11-6 SLC) with a final score of 57-54 to keep their position at fourth place in the conference and place the Bearkats one game ahead of New Orleans in the standings.

SHSU head coach Jason Hooten captured the emotion of the game after the victory.

“Welcome to the Southland conference and really any conference in the country,” Hooten said. “It’s what you expect this time of the year. Two teams that are known for being tough and playing hard. Just an absolute dog fight and battle until the end.”

With a win against UCA or a loss by UNO, the Bearkats will clinch a top-four seed in the

SLC tournament due to tie-breaker scenarios and margin between records. SHSU has an overall record of 16-2 against UCA, 11-2 of which has been with coach Hooten.

The way the standings sit with the rest of the regular season schedule, the Bearkats have a chance of grabbing a No. 2 seed in the SLC tournament happening March 7-10 in Katy. For SHSU to have a two-day “bye week,” the Bearkats will have to win out in their final two games of the season, starting with Wednesday’s game against UCA.

The Bearkats will then head back to Huntsville to take on their rivals in the SFA Lumberjacks in the final game of the regular season at 7:00 p.m. this Saturday. This will not only be the final home and regular season game before the post-season tournament begins, but this will also determine the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament in Katy.

Earlier this season, the Bearkats fell to the Lumberjacks on the road in Nacogdoches Jan. 27 in an 82-66 defeat, their worst margin of defeat in conference play this season. The Lumberjacks currently sit in third place in the Southland Conference with a record of 12-4 in SLC play. The Bearkats are in fourth place with the same record, the tiebreaker being the difference between the two. In that game, junior guard John Dewey III lead the scoreboard with 12 points for the Bearkats on three for eight shooting from the field (one of three from three-point territory) and five of six from the free throw line. Dewey, before fouling out, also grabbed four steals on the night’s effort.

Wednesday’s matchup between the Bearkats and the Bears can be heard live on 90.5 KSHU-FM with tip-off beginning at 7:00 p.m. as SHSU tries to clinch a top-four seed in the conference tournament.

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