Alabama State (19-12) at Sam Houston State (23-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 18th, 8 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum (6,100) -- Huntsville, Texas. Television: None. CIT Record: Alabama State 0-0, Sam Houston State 0-0. Series Record: Alabama State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Coming off their weakest offensive effort of 2013-14, the Bearkats of Sam Houston State welcome the Alabama State Hornets to Johnson Coliseum for first-round action in the annual CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
One of the top performers in the Southland Conference this season, finishing third in the standings with a 13-5 mark, the Bearkats won two games against Oral Roberts and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the conference tournament, but then came a meeting with Stephen F. Austin. Winners of 28 straight games, the Lumberjacks of SFA had little trouble against SHSU in a 68-49 final in the tournament title tilt.
Despite the disappointing outcome against SFA, the Bearkats are the team with the most victories invited to this tournament.
As for the Hornets, members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, they picked up just a single win in their tournament last week with a 64-51 triumph over Alcorn State in the quarterfinals, before being taken out by Texas Southern in the semifinals, 73-61.
An impressive 13-1 at home this season, Alabama State won just once in five true road games against non-conference competition, which is the category into which this meeting falls.
The only game between these teams previously took place during the 1992-93 campaign in Spokane, Washington, where Alabama State captured an 82-75 victory. The winner this time around will advance to the next round of the tournament, against an opponent to be determined.
Despite shooting only 39.6 percent from the field through 31 games, of which he has started all but one, Jamel Waters leads the Hornets in scoring with 14.5 ppg. Just 29.5 percent accurate behind the 3-point line, Waters has done a good bit of his damage at the free-throw line (130-of-170) where he has converted more shots than any of his teammates has even attempted. But more than just a scorer, Waters is also by far the top passer for the program with his 188 assists.
The other double-digit scoring threat for Alabama State has been DeMarcus Robinson with his 11.5 ppg, although his accuracy from the floor (.366) and beyond the arc (.263) has been drawn into question. Robinson has made good on a team-best 42 3-pointers, but still the program is hitting perimeter attempts at a mere 28.9 percent.
The most impressive aspect of the Bearkats, on their way to posting 23 wins this season, was that they used the same starting five each and every time out. Jabari Peters is listed as the top scorer with his 12.7 ppg, but clearly this is a group that doesn't play favorites and is more than willing to go with whomever has the hot hand when it counts the most. Peters also paces the program with 136 assists, but right behind him are Kaheem Ransom (11.8 ppg) and Paul Baxter (8.9 ppg), spreading the wealth as well with 120 and 119 assists, respectively.
Quite honestly, you'd have a hard time finding another Division I team that plays as unselfishly as Sam Houston State these days, to the point where there are three players with at least 100 assists.
Playing at home and having had so much success already this season, the Bearkats certainly have what it takes to advance beyond this round.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Sam Houston State 74, Alabama State 66
03/18 10:38:42 ET