Bearkats Buckle Down to Halt Jackson State

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Newcomers Chad Bowie, Kai Mitchell and RJ Smith each tallied 12 points as the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team (3-3) broke out a 75-60 win over Jackson State, Monday night at Freedom Hall Civic Center.

Bubba Furlong was the other Bearkat to reach double figures as he tallied a career-high 11 points against the Tigers.

The Sam Houston State bench accounted for 35 of the team’s 75 points and the Bearkats brought in 40 boards on the night.

The Tigers jumped on the board first but back-to-back three-pointers by Cameron Delaney and Bowie got the Bearkats out to an early 6-2 lead. One minute later, Kai Mitchell forced the first of 18 Tiger turnovers and Bowie hit his second consecutive trey to put the Bearkats up by five points.

The two teams traded field goals for four minutes until Jackson State went on a five-point run to tie up the game at 15 points apiece.

Furlong made his first of four field goals on the night to give the Bearkats a two-point advantage on the next play but Jackson State’s Lemmie Howard drilled a jumper at the top of the key to tie the game back up, 17-17, with 11:41 left in the first half.

Giving the Bearkats some much-needed separation, Marcus Harris drilled his first trey beyond the three-point arc since Sam Houston’s season opener against East Texas Baptist and Furlong notched his second field goal of the day to give the Bearkats a five-point lead.

After the Tigers knocked down a single free throw, Mitchell responded with back-to-back jumpers in the paint to give Sam Houston an eight-point lead and reach 10 points.

Falling into foul trouble, the Bearkats surrendered seven free throws and Jackson State went on a 12-2 run over three full minutes to take a one-point lead just before halftime. However, with three seconds left, Josh Delaney hit a buzzer-beater to put Sam Houston back on top, 32-31, just before time expired.

Jackson State hit the opening shot of the second half but the Bearkats bounced back with five points off an Albert Almanza three-pointer and a field goal from Bowie. The Tigers nailed back-to-back buckets but field goals from RJ Smith, Harris and Cameron Delaney tallied seven unanswered points for the Bearkats.

However, two consecutive Jackson State layups cut Sam Houston’s lead down to just three points before the Bearkat offense exploded on a 16-2 run.

After struggling to get to the free-throw line in the first half, Sam Houston sunk seven free throws during its three-minute crusade. Smith accounted for eight of the Bearkats’ 16 points, hitting three field goals and a pair of free throws to put Sam Houston at a 62-45 advantage.

The Bearkats’ run was interrupted by a trey from Jackson State’s Hunter Shelton but Sam Houston tacked on another four points on a Smith layup and free throws by Bowie.

While the Sam Houston defense limited Jackson State to 12 points in the last four minutes, Furlong and freshman Xavier Bryant made the most of their trips to the free-throw line as Furlong sunk three shots and Bryant netted two.

Sam Houston finished the game shooting 45 percent from the field and 82.4 percent from the free-throw line in a 14-for-17 effort. With the 75-60 win, the Bearkats improve to an even 3-3 overall record on the season.

Final Details

The Bearkats are set to wrap up the Cayman Island Classic tomorrow night at 6 p.m. (Central) against either East Tennessee State or Chicago State. Live stats will be available for the contest. For all the latest information on the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team, visit gobearkats.com or follow @BearkatsMBB on Twitter.