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Sam Houston State (23-9) vs. Stephen F. Austin (30-2)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 15, 8:30 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Leonard E. Merrell Center (5,600) -- Katy, Texas. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: SHSU 10-3, SFA 15-0. Away Record: SHSU 6-10, SFA 14-2. Neutral Record: SHSU 1-0, SFA 0-0. Conference Record: SHSU 12-6, SFA 18-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 96-96.

GAME NOTES: In an all-Lone Star State affair, the Southland Conference Tournament champion will be decided when the top-seeded Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks tangle with the third-seeded Sam Houston Bearkats on Saturday night at the Leonard E. Merrell Center.

After dominating the Southland throughout the regular season, the Lumberjacks are a deserving contender in this title bout. SFA went 18-0 in league play to claim the regular-season crown and earn a double-bye to the semifinals in this event, where it handled Northwestern State in an 85-78 final. The Lumberjacks have won 27 straight games in all, which is the second-longest streak in the nation behind Wichita State. If they can push the streak to 28 games, the Lumberjacks will capture their second Southland title -- the first coming in 2009.

The Bearkats are carrying quite a bit of momentum into this contest, having won four straight games, including triumphs in their first two bouts in this tournament. The first was a 70-61 win over Oral Roberts, and that was followed by a 69-63 win over second-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Sam Houston State has won this tournament twice previously, with the most recent being in 2010.

This matchup marks the 193rd time these in-state rivals have met on the hardwood. The series is currently tied at 96-96, but Stephen F. Austin won both contests during the regular season.

Despite a rough outing from leading scorer Jabari Peters, who connected on just 2-of-11 from the floor and 0-of-6 from 3-point range, Sam Houston State was able to knock off Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Bearkats still managed to outscore the Islanders from 3-point range (18-12), and at the free-throw line (27-17).

SHSU is a solid offensive team. It is netting 76.7 ppg and shooting 46.5 percent from the field, The Bearkats are efficient when it comes to shooting from the perimeter as well, knocking down 39.7 percent of their 3-point tries. Peters (12.9 ppg) is the leading scorer on the roster and a strong shooter from long distance (.390). In fact, he shoots a better percentage from beyond the arc than he does the field overall (.381). Ransom (12 ppg) is also a strong shooter from the outside, sinking 38.2 percent of his threes.

Long-range shooting was the key for SFA in its win over Northwestern State. The Lumberjacks sank 12-of-29 attempts from 3-point range in the contest, while shooting a solid 45 percent overall. Desmond Haymon netted a team-high 27 points on 8-of-15 from the floor to lead the way.

The defensive end of the court is where the Lumberjacks have been most effective this season. They are allowing only 63.1 ppg, despite foes shooting 45.2 percent from the floor. The key is their ability to get into passing lanes, as they are 14th in the country in assists allowed (9.8 apg). Haymon (14.6 ppg) leads a group of four double-digit scorers Jacob Parker (14.5 ppg) and Thomas Walkup (12.7 ppg) are also strong scorers, while Deshaunt Walker (12 ppg) adds spark off the bench. Parker is the most versatile of the group, leading the squad on the boards, while also adding 1.3 steals per game.

With multiple threats from beyond the arc, Sam Houston State has a chance if it gets hot. However, that is too big of an if against a Stephen F. Austin squad that has grown accustomed to winning.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Stephen F. Austin 77, Sam Houston State 70

03/15 10:40:30 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUR 1
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR
 
Final
WAS 8
ARI 1
Final
PIT 3
ATL 11
Final
NYY 4
HOU 7
Final
PHI 2
SEA 5
Final
TAM 6
DET 8
Final
BOS 3
ANA 4
Final
MIA 4
TEX 3
Final
CHC 2
SFG 0
Final
CWS 1
BAL 5
Final
MIN 5
CLE 7
Final
MIL 6
TOR 1
Final
STL 5
CIN 4
Final
COL 4
KAN 7
Final
OAK 6
NYM 2
Final
LOS 8
SDP 6
12:40pm Today
MIA
TEX
 
1:05pm Today
PHI
SEA
 
2:10pm Today
MIL
TOR
 
3:35pm Today
OAK
NYM
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
ARI
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
ATL
 
7:05pm Tonight
NYY
HOU
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
DET
 
7:10pm Tonight
BOS
ANA
 
7:15pm Tonight
STL
CIN
 
8:05pm Tonight
CHC
SFG
 
8:10pm Tonight
CWS
BAL
 
8:10pm Tonight
MIN
CLE
 
8:40pm Tonight
COL
KAN
 
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
SDP
 
Final
DUR 1
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR