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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
CAR 3
CLB 4
8:30pm Tonight
CAR
PIT
Final
NYY 5
TOR 2
Final
MIA 1
WAS 2
Final
BAL 2
BOS 3
Final
PIT 1
MIL 0
Final
ATL 2
NYM 10
Final
TAM 5
CWS 10
Final
MIN 2
CLE 7
Final
KAN 5
DET 2
Final
HOU 8
SEA 3
9th
CHC 5
LOS 8
 
8th
ANA 1
TEX 1
 
6th
OAK 6
PHI 5
 
7th
COL 6
ARI 2
 
6th
SDP 1
SFG 0
 
8:05pm Tonight
STL
CIN
Final
CAR 3
CLB 4
2nd
WAS 1
BUF 0
 
6:30pm Tonight
CLB
STL
 
8:00pm Tonight
EDM
CAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
CAL
EDM
 
Final
CLE 21
BAL 23
Final
STL 31
DAL 34
Final
DET 19
GBP 7
Final
NYG 30
HOU 17
Final
JAC 17
IND 44
Final
NOS 20
MIN 9
Final
NEP 16
OAK 9
Final
BUF 10
SDC 22
Final
CIN 33
TEN 7
Final
PHI 37
WAS 34
3rd
ARI 13
SFX 14
 
3rd
SEA 17
DEN 3
 
3rd
MIA 10
KAN 14
 
8:30pm Tonight
CAR
PIT