SHSU men drop season opener at Arkansas

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Fayetteville, Ark. – Sam Houston head coach has said all fall that the 2012-13 edition of the Bearkat men’s basketball team will be much better shooters.

The young Kat squad proved their coach right as they threw a scare into Arkansas, falling by only five points 73-68 Friday night in both team’s season opener.

Darius Gatson led Sam Houston with 20 points, hitting four of six three-point attempts. James Thomas added 14 points and Demarcus Gatlin scored 10.

Coty Clark led the Hogs with 20 points. Twenty four of Arkansas’ points came at the free throw line.

“With a lineup that includes seven young guys who were playing their first NCAA Division I game against a team like Arkansas that presses for 40 minutes and an atmosphere like this one in Fayetteville, I was really happy with the way these guys refused to fold under pressure,” Hooten said. “We’re just working on becoming a better team right now. We’d only worked on their press the last three days.”

Sam Houston started strong, jumping out to an 8-4 lead with a layup by Gatson at the 16:52 mark. The Razorbacks roared back to tie the contest at 14-14.

James Thomas gave the Bearkats their last lead, 16-14, with a layup with 12:01 to play. Arkansas went on a 12-2 run to build their largest lead of the first half, 29-18, with 6:40 remaining.

A trio of three-point baskets, the third by Nathaniel Mason, brought Sam Houston back within four 33-29 with 1:07 remaining before intermission. The Hogs led 37-29 at halftime.

The Bearkats kept the contest close throughout the second period. Gatson cut the lead to four 42-38 with 16:19 to play and a three-pointer by Marquel McKinney brought SHSU within three 46-43 at the 13:18 mark.

Jeremy McKay’s trey with 51 seconds to play made it a four-point game, but the Hogs held on for the victory.

Sam Houston State will play their 2012-13 home opener Tuesday at Johnson Coliseum against Hardin-Simmons.

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