Kats’ season opener Friday

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The Sam Houston State men’s basketball team will match up against Austin College tomorrow in the regular season opener at Johnson Coliseum.

The Bearkats enter the season tabbed third in the 2015 Southland Men’s Basketball Coach’s poll behind Stephen F. Austin State and Northwestern State.

SHSU lost just five players from last year’s squad but return nine. Senior guards Jabari Peters and Kaheem Ransom, who were selected to the 2015 preseason All-SLC Conference team back in October, look to continue their stride after a breakout year last season.

“Since we have a lot of guys returning, we really didn’t have that many holes to fill,” head coach Jason Hooten said. “But we did lose two really good power forwards that played significant time. One was our starting four man and the other was his backup. Together they both averaged around nine rebounds and about 16 to 17 points a game, so they will be missed.”

Last season, the Kats finished with an overall record of 24-11 and lost to SFA in the postseason. Hooten and the team are taking last season as a learning experience and looking at it in a positive way, he said.

“Our guys have a feeling of what it takes to make it to a championship game now,” Hooten said. “Some guys play four years and never get the opportunity to play in a championship game. There’s a lot of drive there, there’s a lot of encouragement and a lot of good experience for our guys. Now they want to get back and play that game again.”

For Austin College, it is almost like a return home to Huntsville.

In 1850, the Huntsville citizens decided to make a Presbyterian college. The college served as a new college between the Brazos and Trinity rivers. They drafted a charter, and in 1851, Austin College was built.

Huntsville was home to Austin College from 1851 till 1876, when the college moved to its now current home in Sherman. Lack of enrollment, disease and a better climate were just a few reasons that caused the move.

Although the school left, the Austin College building was not vacant for long.

In 1879, just three years after Austin College moved to Sherman, the people of Huntsville got together and raised money to buy the building. Once the money was raised, the citizens bought the building and converted it into the first teachers’ college in the state of Texas, which eventually created Sam Houston State University. The original Austin College building was declared a historic landmark of Texas in 1936 and was renamed Austin Hall in remembrance of what the building was originally used for.

As much history there is between the schools, Friday is nothing more than the season opener between the squads.

Tipoff for the season opener is slated for 12 p.m.