KATY, Texas (KBTX) -- A loss to rival Stephen F. Austin Saturday night gave the Sam Houston State Bearkats a fourth place finish in the final Southland Conference basketball standings.
But dreams of the big dance are still very much alive as the Kats prepare for this week's Southland Conference tournament at the Merrell Center in Katy.
Sam has a first round bye and won't play until Thursday, giving head coach Jason Hooten and his team time to flush the loss to the Lumberjacks and prepare for what's ahead.
Hooten said, "It's big. It is one of the goals that we wanted to get to this year and obviously we wanted the dou ble bye, but Southeastern and Nicholls have both played better than anybody else. You go to the conference tournament, you've got to think you've got a chance, right? Those two are one and two. To be honest, Stephen F. is the third seed and that's the only team head of us that we haven't beat this year."
MEN'S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES CENTRAL)
First Round - Wednesday, March 7, 2018
5:00 PM - Game 1 - No. 5 New Orleans vs. No. 8 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (ESPN3)
7:30 PM - Game 2 - No. 6 Lamar vs. No. 7 Central Arkansas (ESPN3)
Second Round - Thursday, March 8, 2018
5:00 PM - Game 3 - No. 4 Sam Houston State vs. Winner Game 1 (ESPN3)
7:30 PM - Game 4 - No. 3 Stephen F. Austin vs. Winner Game 2 (ESPN3)
Semifinals - Friday, March 9, 2018
5:00 PM - Game 5 - No. 1 Southeastern Louisiana vs. Winner Game 3 (ESPN3)
7:30 PM - Game 6 - No. 2 Nicholls vs. Winner Game 4 (ESPN3)
Championship - Saturday, March 10, 2018
8 PM - Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 (ESPN2)