Bearkats push past Tarleton in WAC play

Jan. 8—HUNTSVILLE — Coming off a disappointing loss on Thursday, Sam Houston men's basketball opened its game with a 12-0 run to set tone early.

The Bearkats had control throughout the game as they pushed the Texans to the edge taking a 75-68 win, despite a five minute sequence where the Texans held Sam Houston to three points.

"I wasn't ever nervous," Sam Houston head coach Jason Hooten said. "I thought we were in complete control of the game for 40 minutes. There was a stretch where I wish we would have played a little bit better and we might have won by 20. We knew they weren't going to quit fighting. They are a well coached and a tough team and that's what you expect from them."

Sam Houston was able to put their high-powered offense to the test. The Kats as a team shot 60% from the field on their way to a 20 point lead after the first half.

However, after the break, Sam Houston wouldn't come out as fast as they shot 31.8% leaving room for Tarleton to work its way back in.

The Texans would hit 17 second half shots on 35 tries to narrow down the Kats lead.

"It's maturity," Hooten said. "It's what kind of team do you have. Do you have a team that is mature enough to understand that and to put the pedal to the metal and keep going? I challenged them to try and win the second half and obviously we didn't. A win is a win and it feels a whole lot better than Thursday night when we gave one away. One just has to keep getting better."

Hooten's defense is something that has always been top notch and against Tarleton was no different. The Kats forced 14 turnovers and held the Texans to 43% from the field and 27% from behind the line.

The Kats also came up with six steals with senior guards Qua Grant and Javion May both getting two apiece. Sam Houston also added 14 fast break points in transition.

"I think our defense speaks for itself," Hooten said. "I thought our defense was elite the other night and we just didn't execute like we needed to the other night and today we did. The thing I love about this team is we still have the opportunity to continue to improve. There are so many things we can get better at."

One big thing that Hooten has had this year was his ability to go to his bench for points and strong outings.

Freshman Anthony Wrzeszcz was the guy for him tonight.

Wrzeszcz came in off the bench and started going off. The freshman would hit all six of his attempts while going 3-3 from behind the arc.

Wrzeszcz efforts would add up to a tied team high 19 points with senior guard Donte Powers.

Bench points have been a pivotal thing for the Kats this season as they currently sit with the number one bench in the NCAA.

"Everytime I go down to the bench and put a new guy in, they step up," Hooten said. "Today it was Anthony's turn. He has kept an unbelievable attitude the whole time. Tonight he showed everybody how good it is going to be for us."

Wrzeszcz has seen action in 10 games this season but his 19 points tonight set a new career high in his short career at Sam Houston.

"He's a talent for sure but he is a freshman playing behind some older guys," Hooten said. "We haven't played him as much because we want to make sure he is comfortable. He's a streaky shooter in practice and he made one or two tonight and I felt like if he made one or two, he might make five or six and he did that."

As the Kats have righted their ship, they now face another strong test as they will hit the road and head west for a week of road trips. The Kats will start with a Thursday matchup against Southern Utah before rounding out the trip with a Saturday night game against Utah Tech.

Sam Houston will return home on Jan. 19 for a matchup against rival Stephen F. Austin.