The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

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February 2, 2014

SHSU MEN'S BASKETBALL - Bearkat men keep cruising

HUNTSVILLE — Sam Houston State had too many weapons for Houston Baptist in Saturday’s 81-63 win at Johnson Coliseum.

The Bearkats exchanged leads with the Huskies three times before pulling away with their third consecutive Southland Conference victory and the second straight at home.

Jabari Peters, James Thomas and Michael Holyfield each scored 14 points to lead Sam Houston in the win. Holyfield recorded a double-double with 10 rebounds, despite collecting four fouls and  limited to 21 minutes.

“In practice all the time, Coach (Jason) Hooten always preaches adversity,” Holyfield said. “Whatever mistake you do, whatever happens, just keep on playing through it until the game’s over and that’s what I did.”

Houston Baptist started the first four minutes of the game hitting five of six shot attempts while the Bearkats struggled to convert offensively.

Cody Joyce and Colter Lasher got things going early for the Huskies until a push by the Bearkats midway through the first half put Sam Houston in the driver’s seat.

Kaheem Ransom, the Kats’ second-leading scorer on the season averaging 12 points per game, was active on both ends of the floor with seven points, four steals and three assists before halftime.

Sam Houston (8-2 Southland, 16-6 overall) led by only five at the break, but soon extended the lead double digits in the second half. Houston Baptist (1-9 Southland, 4-18 overall) rallied and cut the Bearkat lead to seven points with eight minutes left in the game.

But Sam Houston buckled down defensively and held the Huskies to just 30 percent from the field in the second half.

“It was an important victory to protect homecourt. We did come out a little sluggish,” Peters said. “We just needed a little push from Coach (Hooten) as usual. He told us to get focused and we did. We came back out and picked up our energy.

“We’re getting a lot better. We’ve got guys stepping up off the bench, coming in and making shots, playing big. Mike Holyfield’s gotten better from the day I got here. So we’re improving every day and it’s big.”

The Bearkats are trying to reach a point where they can build on leads and become better at closing out teams. Even in these last two victories, Sam Houston held double-digit leads that were threatened late in the contest against both Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Houston Baptist.

“I was happy with the way we closed it out,” Hooten said. “I’d like for us to get to a point where we can get a 16-point lead and turn that into something else. But you’ve got to give Houston Baptist credit. They’re a well-coached team that plays really hard. Their guys aren’t going to lay down and go away.

“That’s part of our continual maturity as a team. We’ve got to get to a point when we’re up 16 on somebody, we’ve got to get better and put people away. There’s still a lot of room out there for us to get better.”

With the win, Sam Houston remains in the No. 2 spot in the Southland standings behind Stephen F. Austin. The Bearkats along with Nicholls State are one of two teams with only two conference losses on the season. Stephen F. Austin is a perfect 9-0 in league play.

On the other hand, Houston Baptist is one of only two teams with just one conference win on the season. Abilene Christian is 1-7 against conference foes.


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