Bearkats at two and oh!

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For only the third time since Sam Houston State University joined the Southland Conference in 1987-88, the Bearkats have started league action 2-0.

Sam Houston swept their southern Louisiana road swing this weekend, defeating Southeastern Louisiana 69-45 Thursday and Nicholls State 81-61 Saturday. The victories marked only the second time the Kats have swept the Hammond-Thibodaux swing.

Now the Bearkats play four of their next six games at home in Johnson Coliseum. Sam Houston will play host to McNeese State on Thursday (Jan. 11) and to Lamar next Monday (Jan. 15) in a game to be televised by Fox Sports Southwest. Both games begin at 7 p.m.

The Bearkats are led by forward Ryan Bright and Aaron Wade and point guard Jejuan Plair, each of whom is averaging in double figures.

Ryan Bright leads the team with 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest. He ranks third in the Southland in scoring, fourth in rebounds, and 10th in steals.

Jejuan Plair adds 11.8 points per game. Plair ranks second in the league in assists this season with 5.9.

Aaron Wade is averaging 11.5 points per game. Wade is one of Sam Houston’s top threats from beyond the arc with 27 of 58 three point baskets (.468) this season.

Sam Houston State is averaging 77.4 points per game while allowing only 65.7 to lead the Southland Conference in scoring margin.

The Bearkats produced an 8-5 record in pre-Southland play. The Bearkats own victories over Wisconsin-Milwaukee (an NCAA playoff second round team in 2006 and defending Horizon Conference champion) and Loyola Marymount (West Coast Conference tournament finalist in 2006).

Sam Houston also had an outstanding performance against No. 1 UCLA, leading the Bruins for most of the first half and being down by only four points with 12 minutes to play before falling by 14.

The Bearkat men were tabbed as the favorite to win the West Division in the 2007 Southland Conference race in the preseason poll of the league’s head coaches.

With victories over Wisconsin Milwaukee and McMurry during the holidays, Sam Houston State now has won 29 non-conference home games in a row, the third longest non-conference home winning streak in NCAA Division I men’s basketball.