Central Arkansas (13-16) vs. Sam Houston State (15-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Leonard E. Merrell Center (5,600) -- Katy, Texas. Television: Southland Digital Network. Home Record: UCA 8-7, SHSU 9-6. Away Record: UCA 5-8, SHSU 6-10. Neutral Record: UCA 0-1, SHSU 0-0. Conference Record: UCA 7-11, SHSU 8-10. Series Record: Sam Houston State leads, 9-0.
GAME NOTES: The 33rd annual Southland Conference Tournament tips off on Wednesday, as seventh-seeded Central Arkansas Bears go up against the sixth- seeded Sam Houston State Bearkats at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas.
New to the tournament this year, Central Arkansas sported a record of just 13-16 overall and it was 7-11 in league play, although the squad did finish with a four-game win streak, thanks in part to an 86-84 overtime victory versus Oral Roberts.
As for the Bearkats, a squad which has a record of 12-13 in this event all- time and won the 2010 title (their second) with a 64-48 victory over Stephen F. Austin, they stumbled down the stretch with just a single win in six tries as they closed to an 8-10 league mark.
On a more positive note, Sam Houston State won both of the regular season meetings between the squads, which means the all-time series now stands at 9-0 in favor of the Bearkats.
The winner of this matchup will be back in action on Thursday versus third- seeded Oral Roberts in the quarterfinals.
One of the stronger offensive units in the Southland this season, the Bears were responsible for 76.9 ppg as they placed a total of three players in double figures. The top man on that list was Jarvis Green with 16.1 ppg, hitting on 52-of-151 behind the 3-point line. As the second-most productive perimeter shooter on the team, Garner made things tough for defenders because he led UCA in rebounding with close to seven boards per outing as well. LaQuentin Miles checked in with 15.3 ppg and was first with 76 assists and 36 steals, but for someone who handled the ball as much as he did, shooting only 50.8 percent at the free-throw line was disappointing. Robert Crawford (15.0 ppg) was the one who made the team tick out on the perimeter with his 84- of-193 (.435) accuracy, yet he shot just 43.8 percent from the floor overall through 28 starts.
While the Bears are one of the more productive teams offensively in the Southland, the Bearkats come down at the other end of that list with 64.2 ppg and without a single player scoring in double figures over the course of 31 games. Part of the problem there is that only one player has even started every game during the regular season, Darius Gaston who is producing 8.5 ppg and is first on the unit with 103 assists. However, Gaston is shooting only 36.9 percent from the floor and that has helped to bring the entire team down to only 38.1 percent. James Thomas checks in with 9.4 ppg and is also tops with 5.7 rpg, but his issues lie at the free-throw line (.577) and the fact that he can't/won't get his teammates involved in the action (22 assists in 30 games).
The Bearkats have never fallen to Central Arkansas, so there's no reason to think that trend is going to change now.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Sam Houston State 67, Central Arkansas 63
03/13 11:10:59 ET