College basketball is back. It is just the sport that is loved for its intensity, the talent and most notably, its unpredictability.
What the Sam Houston Bearkat men’s basketball team did Monday night in Norman, OK, was nothing short of amazing. They defeated Big 12 conference team Oklahoma Sooners 52-51.
It was a win that came with a lot of perseverance. The Bearkats shot 0-for-9 from the three point arc in the first half. Overall shooting 28.13%. There were bad shots, bad turnovers. They seemed a bit too all over the place.
That is a side effect that most college teams will experience with new players.
The defense was there. It is what has been consistent since conference play of last season. Defense at the end of the day wins championships as the saying goes. They held Oklahoma to only 26 first-half points.
However, the offense was still lacking despite the defense.
They had not lead since senior guard Donte Powers gave them their first points of the season at the beginning of the game.
They found themselves with what seemed like an overwhelming 14-point deficit with 9:44 left in the second half off a free throw from Sooner freshman Milos Uzan.
It seemed as if it was over. Sportsbooks before the game had Sam Houston as 16-point underdogs (some at 17). Sam Houston was at +1000 moneyline. In simplest terms, they were big underdogs.
Then something happened. Something seemed to have all of a sudden clicked.
It seemed that whoever was on the floor for the Bearkats was scoring.
Senior transfer Qua Grant, who finished with 13 points, was doing his thing in all aspects of the game, was being the facilitator. Everything was then starting to click.
Senior guard Javion May playing the good defense helped out too.
Then came sophomore guard transfer Lamar Wilkerson. He did not score a single point in the first half. He came in the second half and caught fire, and it never went out.
With the offense and defense, the Kats clawed back to get it within two points down 51-49 with 57 seconds left off a layup by May.
Oklahoma called timeout and then proceeded to miss two shots with Grant gathering the rebound on the second shot with 11 seconds left. The Bearkats had a timeout to potentially talk things over. Head Coach Jason Hooten elected not to and let it all play out.
It paid off.
Grant drove down the court and passed to Wilkerson in the corner. The Ashdown, AR, native drained a 3-point shot right in front of the Bearkat bench to give Sam Houston the win 52-51. The voice of the Bearkats Carlos Zimmermann went berserk. This was his first Bearkat man’s basketball game since he became the voice.
Pandemonium followed by shock ensued. The Bearkats pulled off the upset and beat the Sooners. The college basketball world was rocked.
Even famed college basketball insider Jon Rothstein had his say.
Hooten had a lot of emotion and a lot to say after the Bearkats pulled off their first victory against a Power 5 school since the 2009-’10 season where they defeated the Auburn Tigers.
His post-game interview said it all.
This win means a lot to the program. It put them on the college basketball map. This will help them in the long run when it comes time for NET Rankings too.
If Sam Houston were to make it all the way to the NCAA tournament, this win could potentially help them a more desirable seed.
It also means a lot to the team. When a team has seven new faces, there is worry about the chemistry and how the team will operate under the playing system.
There seems to be nothing to worry about though for the time being. This team looked in sync with one another.
Either way, non-conference doesn’t matter as of the main prize at the moment is being the Western Athletic Conference champions. This win was a good way to let the college basketball world know they are here. And they are going to be fighting no matter who or what they are facing.
Sam Houston begins a two-game homestand today as they will take on the Southwestern Adventist Knights.
Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m.
It will be live on ESPN+ and on the radio airwaves of 101.7 KSAM and Sam Houston’s student station 90.5 KSHU.