Kats To Host Central Florida Saturday

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Sam Houston State returns to Johnson Coliseum Saturday to complete its 2007-08 men's basketball non-conference schedule with the Central Florida Knights at 2 p.m.

The Bearkats will begin Southland Conference action Wednesday, Jan. 9, with a 7 p.m. home contest with Southeastern Louisiana.

Bearkat basketball fans get a rare doubleheader treat Saturday at Johnson Coliseum, 30 minutes after completion of the men's game (approximately 4:30 p.m.), the Sam Houston State women's team opens Southland Conference play with McNeese State. One ticket to either the men's or women's game will be good for admission to both contests.

The Bearkats stand 11-1 in non-conference action this season. The Bearkats' only loss was to San Diego State in a 79-78 overtime road result. Seven of those victories have come over NCAA Division I programs.

Central Florida brings a 6-6 record into the tilt. The Knights have NCAA
Division I victories over Nevada, Norfolk State, Penn State, and
Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Knights are led by 6-4 junior guard Jermaine Taylor who averages 19.8 points per game. Two other Central Florida players are scoring in double figures - 6-3 guard Dave Noel (12.8) and 6-0 guard Mike O'Donnell (10.5 points).

The 11-1 record this season marks Sam Houston State's best start as an NCAA Division I competitor. The mark is Sam Houston's best start since 1973 when the Bearkats' Lone Star Conference titlists went 28-0 before falling in the second round of the NAIA national tournament.

The Bearkats' 56-54 victory over Texas Tech was Bob Marlin's second victory over Bob Knight in their four meetings. Sam Houston handed Knight his first loss as Red Raider head coach in 2001. SHSU defeated Fresno State, a 2007 NIT participant, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a 2006 NCAA tournament second round team, Loyola Marymount (West Coast Conference tournament finalist in 2006), UC-Irvine and Saint Louis. The Billikens are coached by another legendary coach, Rick Majerus, who ranks among the top 10 in active coaches with 422 career wins.

The Bearkats are 53-34 against non-Southland foes in Bob Marlin's 10 seasons at Sam Houston including road victories over Texas Tech, Missouri, Nebraska, Central Florida, Houston, UC-Irvine, and Saint Louis.

Sam Houston State has received votes in the Associated Press basketball poll five weeks in a row (12/3 through 12/31), SHSU's first appearance in the NCAA Division I poll since the Kats became eligible for AP votes in 1987. The Kats stand 31st in the latest NCAA Division I RPI ratings, No. 1 in www.midmajority.com's poll of the 21 lower conference in NCAA Division I, and 6th in CollegeInsider.Com's NCAA Division I mid-major poll.

SHSU ranks among the top 10 in NCAA Division I men's basketball in four statistics -- 2nd in FG pct. defense, 3rd in assists, 4th in rebound margin, and 6th in scoring defense.

Sam Houston State own's the nation's second longest non-conference home winning streak. Counting regular season non-conference games and post-season tournament contests, Duke has won 57 consecutive games, Sam Houston 43, and Michigan State 34. The Bearkats last home non-conference loss was to Texas A&M 73-70 during Bob Marlin's first season at SHSU in 1998-99.

Sam Houston State is led by its seniors this season. Three are starters.
Ryan Bright, 6-6 forward, is averaging 11.6 points and 11.8 rebounds. He was a first team All-Southland performer and Southland men's basketball "Student-Athlete of the Year" in 2007. Bright was named SLC "Player of the Week" after posting a career high 15 rebounds in a road win at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Bright leads the Southland Conference and ranks 4th nationally in NCAA Division I basketball with 11.8 rebounds per contest.

Shamir McDaniel, 6-1 guard, averages 13.7 points. He tied his career high with 18 points in the Texas Tech victory to earn Southland "Player of the Week" honors, then set new highs of 22 points in the victory over UC-Irvine and 25 at San Diego State. McDaniel ranks second in the Southland Conference in three point accuracy (32 of 67, .478)

John Gardiner, 6-8 post, is adding 4.9 points and 4.8 rebounds and Jeremy Thomas, 6-0 guard, is averaing 6.3 points per game.

Sam Houston leads the Southland in scoring margin (15.7), field goal pct. defense (.364), rebound margin (12.7), and assists (19.7).

DeLuis Ramirez, a 6-4 transfer guard, has stepped in as a starter and is
averaging 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in five games.