Bearkats take on North Texas in second round of NIT

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Mar. 17—HUNTSVILLE — After coming off a historic win on Tuesday night in Santa Clara, Sam Houston men's basketball season rides on for at least one more game.

The Bearkats will match up with a familiar foe in the University of North Texas, a team they last played in 2021. Sam Houston would travel up to Denton for a non-conference game where the Mean Green bested them 65-55 in Denton.

Both teams have squared off 27 times with UNT leading the series 18-9.

However, this Bearkat team is stronger and not quite the same team they have put on the floor in past seasons.

Sam Houston brought in a transfer from Wichita State in Qua Grant, who played lights out all season and was named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

Grant has been lights out and leads the team in minutes this season, points, assists, steals and is second on the team in rebounds. The graduate transfer isn't scared to shoot the long ball but he also drives to the basket for a high-percentage shot and draws fouls.

Sam Houston has shot 564 free throws this season while drawing 593 fouls, sinking 385 of them for points.

Grant has been partnered with senior guard Donte Powers in the backcourt and the duo has been a solid match. The two really took off in the later part of the season too, after an injury to junior Jaden Ray sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

But with that duo leading the way, Sam Houston is capable of winning a lot of games.

The Kats remaining starters are junior Kaosi Ezeagu, Cameron Huefner and Javion May, who play a role in getting rebounds and setting up shots.

One downfall to the Bearkats this season is the ability to guard the three-point line. Opponents have taken 766 three-point attempts with 246 of them falling for points, but that proved fatal in the WAC semi-finals against Grand Canyon who made 10 threes in the first half.

UNT shoots .347% from behind the arc, which can be pivotal if the shots fall for the Mean Green.

Rebounds have been a key thing for Sam Houston all season, which May is a big part of for the Kats. May played physically and led Sam Houston with 158 rebounds, with Grant being 22 behind him.

UNT 6'10" junior Abou Ousmane has grabbed over 200 rebounds this season, which can lead to Ezeagu needing to be the guy as they match up in height.

Offensively, though, Sam Houston holds the advantage as they average 72.7 points per game with the Mean Green averaging 64.4 points. Both defenses play tough as opponents have been held to under 60 points per game by both teams.

Sam Houston will go into this second-round game winning its first-ever NIT game but remains on the road. The Kats flew to San Francisco for its midweek game, getting back just in time to bus up too Denton.

The Bearkats were also stuck on the tarmac due to weather for over an hour before that game.

Sam Houston and UNT will face off at 3 p.m. Sunday at The Super Pit in Denton, Texas, the game will also be steamed on the ESPN+ platform.