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March 17, 2014

SHSU BASKETBALL — Kats hoop season still on

Sam Houston men will host Alabama State in College Insider Tournament on Tuesday

HUNTSVILLE — The Bearkats aren’t done just yet.

After finishing the season with an overall record of 23-10 and coming within a game of an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team will continue its season by hosting Alabama State in the College Insider Tournament on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

This will be the third time in school history the Bearkats participate in a postseason tournament. Sam Houston qualified for the NCAA tournament in 2003 and 2010.

Kats head coach Jason Hooten said the team is excited for another opportunity to get back on the basketball court after losing to Stephen F. Austin in the Southland Conference tournament championship game Saturday.

“We have a good relationship with the people at College Insider and we just felt very comfortable and appreciative that they were the first to invite us,” Hooten said. “It wouldn’t have been possible without (President Dana Gibson and athletic director Bobby Williams) both agreeing to it. We’re fortunate to have an opportunity to play. We’re really excited.

“The guys are fired up and want to get that bitter taste out of their mouth from Saturday night and play some more basketball.”

Sam Houston was the third seed in the Southland tournament, which automatically placed the Bearkats in the quarterfinal round. The Kats defeated Oral Roberts on Thursday to advance to the semifinals, where they beat second-seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

The Kats’ fortune ran out against rival Stephen F. Austin in the championship game.

After holding a six-point lead at one point in the first half, Sam Houston watched the Lumberjacks take control on their way to a 68-49 victory.

Stephen F. Austin is a No. 12 seed heading into the NCAA tournament against No. 5 Virginia Commonwealth.

“I think it’s a sign of how successful the team was, how well they played all year long and how consistent they were,” Hooten said of the Kats playing in the CIT. “We got beat Saturday night by a team that’s got the 12th seed and there are some guys picking them to beat VCU. It was disappointing obviously, but we got beat by a team that’s won 28 games in a row and we just didn’t have our best night. We didn’t play our best.

“So this is a great opportunity to go out and play again. It’s always fun to play some different people, too — some people we haven’t played before.”

The Bearkats once again will be led by junior guards Jabari Peters and Kaheem Ransom, who were both named to the Southland Conference third team and all-tournament team.

Peters was named the conference Newcomer of the Year.

Sam Houston also starts sophomore guard Paul Baxter, junior center Michael Holyfield and senior forward James Thomas.

The Bearkat bench features seniors Nathaniel Mason, Will Bond and Terrance Motley.

Redshirt freshman Dakarai Henderson also provides instant scoring for the Kats off the bench.

Alabama State went 19-12 overall and finished 12-6 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference for second place behind Southern University.

The Hornets lost to Texas Southern in the SWAC tournament semifinal round, despite a 21-point performance from Jamel Waters.

Alabama State is led by Waters (14.6 points per game) and DeMarcus Robinson (11.3).

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