The Sam Houston State men’s basketball team has been in a bit of a funk for the past few weeks. Since defeating Stephen F. Austin on Feb. 2, the Bearkats have lost six out of their last seven games, and have dropped from first to fifth place in the Southland Conference standings.
The Bearkats, who were named preseason favorites to win the SLC back in November, could not have picked a worse time to go cold. They will look to find a rhythm once again on Thursday against the McNeese State Cowboys at Johnson Coliseum.
The Cowboys may be the perfect team for the Bearkats to find their rhythm against. The Cowboys have the worst record in the Southland Conference this season, with just a 4-12 record in conference play. The Bearkats and the Cowboys already met once this season back on Jan. 5. The Bearkats walked out of Lake Charles, LA with a 74-67 victory, and the win over the Cowboys sparked an eight game win streak. Currently, the Cowboys are on a six game losing streak and they may be the one team in the SLC that is currently colder than the Bearkats right now.
SHSU head coach Jason Hooten believes that McNeese is very similar to their last opponent, Abilene Christian, in terms of their playing style.
“Anytime you are playing McNeese it’s just all about containing their dribble penetration,” Hooten said. “They do a great job of penetrating, and then once they get into the gaps and create shots they can really shoot the ball.”
Sparking the team will be a key for the Bearkats, as slow starts have been one of the main culprits in this losing stretch. The Bearkats have often found themselves behind by double digits early in games, and are spending the rest of the game trying to play catch up.
“You try everything,” Hooten said about keeping the team loose. “As a coach you know you go home and you put your head together with your assistants and you try and figure out a way to spark them.”
A hot start at home would go a long way towards getting the Bearkats out of their slump and back to winning ways.
If the Bearkats are going to spark a hot streak going into the SLC Tournament, it starts with Thursday’s game. The Kats are going to have to key in on the Cowboys’ freshman guard Kalob Ledoux. Ledoux is the Cowboys’ leading scorer, and is second on the team in three pointers made. Ledoux is not the only key player for the Cowboys’, but if he is ineffective on Thursday, it is hard to imagine the Cowboys being very successful.
Thursday will be senior night for SHSU in honor of the six Bearkat seniors playing their final regular season home game at Johnson Coliseum. Thursday’s game is set to tip at 7:15 p.m.