Sam Houston State (17-16) vs. Northwestern State (21-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 15, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Leonard E. Merrell Center (5,600) -- Katy, Texas. Television: none. Home Record: SHS 9-6, NSU 13-1. Away Record: SHS 6-10, NSU 8-7. Neutral Record: SHS 2-0, NSU 0-0. Conference Record: SHS 8-10, NSU 15-3. Series Record: NSU leads 30-24.
GAME NOTES: In semifinal action of the Southland Conference Tournament, the second-seeded Northwestern State Demons will face the sixth-seeded Bearkats of Sam Houston State on Friday night at Leonard E. Merrell Center.
Sam Houston State has won two in a row after losing five of its six games to close out the regular season. Most recently in the quarterfinals the Bearkats posted a 58-55 win over No. 3 Oral Roberts.
Northwestern State won its last two games of the regular season, defeating the Bearkats in the season finale, 84-73. The Demons finished 15-3 in conference play to earn the No. 2 seed, behind Stephen F. Austin.
The Demons swept the Bearkats this season with a 73-64 win in Huntsville and the win in the season closer. Northwestern State leads the all-time series 30-24.
The winner will play for the tournament title on Saturday against either SE Louisiana or Stephen F. Austin.
Paul Baxter led Sam Houston State with 13 points in the win over ORU. Terrance Motley added 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field while Will Bond had nine points, five rebounds, and a pair of blocks while hitting on 3-of-4 attempts from beyond the arc.
The Bearkats are the second most efficient defensive team in the conference as they allow only 61.5 points per game due to their rotation which mixes 12 players who average 13.7 minutes per game or more. The depth of the team allows for constant intensity on the defensive end with fresh players. James Thomas leads the team with just 9.4 ppg on 48.3 percent shooting from the field. The squad manages 15.7 assists per game to 13.3 turnovers per contest.
The Demons have made 15 previous appearances in the conference tournament and have played for the title six times, winning in 2001 and 2006. Northwestern State went on to win games in the NCAA Tournament each of those years. This year the Demons finished just one game behind the Lumberjacks as their explosive offensive play consisted of four double-digit scorers. DeQuan Hicks led the team with 14.2 ppg while as a whole the team managed 82.4 ppg, which left the Demons as the highest scoring Division I school in the nation.
In the win to close out the regular season against Sam Houston State, Shamir Davis supplied 24 points, while Brison White had 15 points, going 6-of-6 from the field. Jalan West and Gary Roberson added 11 points each, while west completed a double-double, dishing out 12 assists. The Demons have been without their leading scorer Hicks, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury for the past three games.
The Bearkats are coming off an upset but won't be as lucky this time around. The high-tempo offense of Northwestern State will match up well with the tough defense of Sam Houston State, but will be more efficient. The Bearkats will struggle to keep pace.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern State 74, Sam Houston State 65
03/15 10:32:55 ET