Western New Mexico (3-8) vs. Sam Houston State (6-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 29th, 7:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Don Haskins Center (12,000) -- El Paso, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: WNMU 2-2, SHSU 4-2. Away Record: WNMU 1-6,
SHSU 2-3. Neutral Record: WNMU 0-0, SHSU 0-0. Conference Record: WNMU 3-3, SHSU 0-0. Series Record: Sam Houston State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: A couple of programs trying to snap two-game slides meet up in El Paso this evening, as the Sam Houston State Bearkats clash with the Western New Mexico Mustangs as part of the Sun Bowl Invitational at the Don Haskins Center.
Sam Houston State appeared to be on its way to a win against an under-manned Air Force squad last night, but even after leading by 18 points in the first half the Bearkats failed to maintain the pressure and eventually bowed in a 76-65 decision. The loss was the third in the last four outings for an SHSU group that is just 2-3 on the road so far in 2010-10.
As for the Mustangs, a team that operates at the Division II level as part of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, they were completely dominated by host Texas-El Paso on Tuesday, even as UTEP's top scorer went cold, in an 87-58 final. At this stage of the campaign WNMU has a total of just three wins overall against the likes of Regis University, Western State and CSU-Pueblo -- all in league play.
This game marks just the second meeting all-time between these two programs, with the Bearkats capturing a win during the 1971-72 campaign before joining Division I for the 1986-87 season.
TJ Riley tallied 15 points and pulled down four rebounds for the Mustangs last night, shooting a respectable 6-of-14 from the field, yet the team as a whole converted just 32.8 percent from the field and 7-of-26 beyond the arc. While it wouldn't have made enough of a difference in the outcome, it certainly didn't help that WNMU hit a mere 9-of-23 at the free-throw line either. Chuck Kempf accounted for another 13 points and seven rebounds as he converted 4- of-11 beyond the arc for a group that turned the ball over a remarkable 26 times. Despite being just a 36.3 percent shooter from the field who is also converting only 25 percent behind the three-point line, Riley leads the team in scoring with 14.3 ppg, followed by Chad Carter with 13.3 ppg. Scoring 65.5 ppg, the Mustangs can't seem to find open shots from anywhere on the floor these days, knocking down just 36.0 percent from the field overall and a woeful 28.6 percent behind the three-point line.
A huge start for the Bearkats against Air Force last night took a drastic turn in the second half as the squad saw a 29-point swing and eventually was left with the 11-point loss. In the second half, while the Falcons were shooting 62.5 percent from the floor, SHSU was hitting on a mere 34.8 percent, including 1-of-10 behind the three-point line even as the Bearkats dealt with an Air Force group missing a couple of key components. Nevertheless, Gilberto Clavell refused to go quietly as he posted 24 points and five rebounds before fouling out, followed by Josten Crow with 14 points and six boards in the setback. Clavell, the leading scorer in three of the last four games and a total of seven times already this season, paces the Bearkats with his 20.3 ppg as a 51.0 percent shooter from the floor. Clavell is also responsible for a team-best 7.5 rpg, so you can excuse the fact that he has but 10 assists, against 36 turnovers at this stage of the season. Crow drops another 14.5 ppg and collects 6.5 rpg for a group that is getting by with just 65.0 percent shooting at the free-throw line.
The Mustangs are playing out of their league this week, both literally and figuratively. The squad might have a better chance of competing against SHSU tonight, but that only means it won't be a complete blowout.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Sam Houston State 74, Western New Mexico 59
12/29 10:34:32 ET