Before a stunned crowd of 10,173 at the Erwin Center, Sam Houston State jumped in front of the University of Texas by 12 points and held a lead for the first 14 minutes of the contest.
The Horns’ depth and free throw shooting finally took its tool as Texas rallied for a 56-40 victory. But a determined group of Bearkats definitely made a statement in Austin Saturday night.
Sam Houston limited Texas to 31.6 percent shooting (18-of-57) and equaled the Longhorns’ field goal total, hitting 18-of-56. The difference came at the line where Texas was 16-of-26 and SHSU 0-of-2.
“After the long road trip last week, I’m really proud of the way our kids fought tonight,” SHSU head coach Jason Hooten said. “We got better tonight, and that’s our goal every game. We have to continue to get better each time we take the floor.”
The Bearkats played tenacious defense from the beginning, allowing the Horns to sink only one of their first 13 shots. Sam Houston took a 9-2 lead on Demarcus Gatlin’s jumper at the 14:22 mark of the first half and Darius Gatson’s jumper at the 12:20 mark stretched the lead to 16-4.
After a media timeout, Texas began to inch back into the game, tying the contest for the first time 18-18 with 6:43 to go in the period. Werner scored again to make it 20-18 before the Horns tied the contest again at 22-22 and led at half 28-22.
Sam Houston hit 10-of-29 field goals in the first half while Texas managed only 9-of-29. The Horns’ big advantage came at the free throw line where they were 8-of-9 while the Kats did not have any attempts.
The pesky Bearkats continued the fight into the second half. Konner Tucker drove the lane for a layup to pull Sam Houston within two points, 30-28, with 14 minutes to play. Texas held only a four-point lead, 34-30, at the second media time out at 10:25 and a six-point lead, 36-30, at the third media at 7:32.
Sam Houston pulled within four, 39-35, on a basket by Holyfield with 5:44 remaining. After Holyfield and Marcus James fouled out, the Horns pulled away with a 17-5 run to close the contest.
“We’ve been playing good defense. We need to hit some shots,” Hooten said. “We’ve got some guys hurt right now, but you have to go with what you have and those kids played their hearts out tonight.”
The Longhorns maintained their unbeaten record in the Erwin Center this year where they’ve gone 3-0. Texas stands 3-2 for the season. Sam Houston drops to 1-5.