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Razorbacks slide past Bearkats in basketball season, 73-68

Sports Editor

Published: Monday, November 12, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 00:11

In what many would have thought to be a blow out, the Sam Houston State basketball team put up a serious fight against Arkansas for their season opener, losing 73-68 in Fayetteville Friday night.

With only two starters and a total of five returning players altogether, head coach Jason Hooten and his coaches have had to practically put together a new team.  Hooten says they will be better shooters than last year.

The Bearkats got behind their coach’s words and knocked down eight three point shots, four of them coming from returning starter Darius Gatson, who led the Kats with 20 points. The senior guard went 4-6 from the three point line and 7-10 from the field.

Forward James Thomas, a junior transfer from Navarro College, had 14 points and led the Bearkats with eight rebounds in his first game in a Sam Houston uniform.

“There’s a guy you sign every once in a while, that you know will probably be one of the better signs you had,” Hooten said. “That’s him. He’s a junk-yard dog. He plays his heart out every single day and gives you everything he has.”

Demarcus Gatlin, the other returning starter, put up 10 points.

Sam Houston started strong and led 8-4, but the Razorbacks went on a 10-6 run, tying the game at 14. After a layup by Thomas put the Kats up 16-14, the Hogs went on a 12-2 run; putting them up 29-18 with little more than six minutes left in the first half. The Berakats clawed back to stay relevant and only trailed by eight at halftime.

Hooten’s squad kept the game close in the second half, cutting the lead to four points twice, and once to three points.  Jeremy McKay, a junior transfer from Wallace State, knocked down a 3-pointer with 51 seconds remaining in the game to cut the lead to three, but the Hogs were able to hold on for their 18th consecutive season-opening victory.

The Bearkats had a higher field goal shooting percentage and 3-point shooting percentage than Arkansas, but the Razorbacks were able to get to the free throw line 32 times, cashing in on 26 of those attempts.

Arkansas’ Coty Clarke led the Razorbacks with 20 points, 10 coming from the free throw line.

“This was a hard game to play,” Hooten said. “[Our guys] haven’t played a game yet. [Arkansas] has played two exhibition games. I was really happy with the way these guys didn’t fold under pressure.”

The Bearkats will play their 2012-13 home opener tonight at Johnson Coliseum at 7 p.m. against Hardin-Simmons. They will then travel to Bloomington, Ind. to face the number one-ranked Hoosiers for the Progressive Legends Classic.

The Bearkats will play host to the Progressive Legends Classic sub-regional at Johnson Coliseum Monday through Wednesday of next week with double-headers on each of those days.

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