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Date Posted: Thu, January 20 2005, 8:58:57
Author: 91
Subject: "This is always a good one"...game preview from the Huntsville Item Online


This is always a good one

By Jason Barfield/Sports Editor

When the Bearkats and Mavericks hook up, it is usually a pretty entertaining basketball game. Sam Houston State head coach Bob Marlin doesn't expect anything different tonight when Texas-Arlington visits Johnson Coliseum for its only game against the Bearkats this season.

In the last six years, the Kats hold a 6-5 advantage in the 11-game series with the Mavs taking the only meeting last year 81-53 in Arlington. Outside of that game, the series against the Mavs has provided Bearkat basketball fans some pretty enjoyable games.

In 1998, the two teams played to triple overtime with the Mavs taking it 125-123. Two seasons later, the Kats won a double-overtime thriller 103-98 in the first round of the Southland Conference tournament. In 2002, SHSU outlasted UTA 102-94 in a shootout at Johnson Coliseum. The last time the Mavs visited Huntsville, it was a much lower-scoring game, but just as competitive, with SHSU pulling out a 56-52 win in front of a Fox Sports Net television audience.

"We have always had really interesting games with them, especially here," SHSU head coach Bob Marlin said. "We have had some really fun games with them and I don't expect tomorrow night to be any different."

While some of the more memorable games have been high scoring, Marlin doesn't see it happening that way.

"In the past, coach (Eddie) McCarter played fast, but he has slowed down," Marlin said. "This year he is playing to his strengths. They are not extremely deep and they don't have a lot of senior leadership, so he is playing a more slow-down type game and he is getting good results from it."

For the Mavericks, this will be their fourth road game out of the first five in Southland Conference play. They enter the game 2-2 with road victories against Nicholls State and McNeese State.

The go-to guy for the Mavs will be Steven Thomas, a 6-5, 215-pound forward. Thomas averages 18.8 points per game, and is grabbing more than nine rebounds a game. In the Mavericks' win against McNeese on Saturday, Thomas scored 26 points.

"Steven Thomas is one of the best players in our league," Marlin said. "He is a great player. He leads the league in scoring and is second in the league in rebounding and second in the league in field goal percentage. Wilder (Auguste) will start on him and Kelvin Williams will guard him some and so will Eddy (Fobbs)."

With this being the only meeting between the two teams this season, there is a lot riding on the outcome of the game. The winner will have the edge in case there is a tie at the end of the season. Last year, three teams tied at the top of the league standings at 11-5, while four more finished 8-8.

"All games are important and the race is going to come down to the last week of the year just like it always does," Marlin said. "When it comes down to it, Arlington will probably be right in the thick of it, just like we will. But also, just playing at home, this is one we need to win."

The men's game is the second of a doubleheader at Johnson Coliseum and is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

Jason Barfield is the sports editor of The Huntsville Item. He can be reached by email at jbarfield@itemonline.com or by phone at (936) 295-5407 ext. 3019.

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