Sam Houston State (6-4) vs. Air Force (7-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 28th, 11:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Don Haskins Center (12,000) -- El Paso, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: SHSU 4-2, Air Force 6-1. Away Record: SHSU 2-2, Air Force 1-2. Neutral Record: SHSU 0-0, Air Force 0-0. Conference Record: SHSU 0-0, Air Force 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: For their first-ever meeting on the hardwood, the Air Force Falcons and the Sam Houston State Bearkats mix it up in El Paso tonight at the Don Haskins Center as part of the annual Sun Bowl Invitational.
The Bearkats are getting back into action after a week off and are trying to bounce back from a 75-73 loss to Houston on the road. The defeat was the second in the last three outings for the program hailing from the Southland Conference.
As for the Falcons, they too suffered a loss in their most recent contest, a 74-63 setback versus Northern Arizona at home six days ago. The loss snapped a brief two-game win streak by the academy.
Both of these teams will be back in action tomorrow as well, with Air Force clashing with host UTEP and the Bearkats catching Western New Mexico.
The Bearkats lost to Houston in overtime earlier in the season so a close game was nothing new between the squads last week. Sam Houston State led at the break on the strength of 10-of-13 shooting at the free-throw line in the first half, but in the second frame the squad converted just 11 total field goals, including 1-of-5 beyond the arc, en route to the narrow setback. Gilberto Clavell tallied 25 points and pulled down seven rebounds for the visitors, followed by Josten Crow with 20 points and seven boards of his own. Clavell, a 50.7 percent shooter from the floor who is responsible for a team-best 7.8 rpg, paces the program with his 19.9 ppg right now, followed by Crow (6.6 rpg) who is posting 14.5 ppg as well. Between the two they account for a large chunk of the team's 73.2 ppg over 10 games. Defensively the Bearkats have benefited from opponents shooting only 27.3 percent behind the three-point line.
With only 26 points in the first half against Northern Arizona, the Falcons dug themselves a considerable hole at home from which they were never able to fully come out of. Off the bench the top scorer for the academy was Derek Brooks who generated 15 points and also cleared a team-best seven rebounds in 28 minutes of action. Michael Lyons tallied 14 points and Evan Washington another 13 to go along with his team-best five assists in the losing cause. Four of the five starters for the Falcons are all scoring in double figures entering play this week, led by Lyons with his 13.7 ppg. Tom Fow (12.1 ppg), Taylor Broekhuis (11.4 ppg) and Washington (10.3 ppg) are all critical pieces to the offensive puzzle for Air Force, but when it comes to defense everyone has a hand in the action as the academy holds opponents to just 37.6 percent shooting from the floor and 62.8 ppg overall.
Sam Houston State has taken the Houston Cougars to the limit in a couple of games this season and as long as the Bearkats can take care of business on the glass they'll have a fighting chance in this contest as well.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Sam Houston State 64, Air Force 62
12/28 21:14:25 ET