The Sam Houston men's basketball team looks to get back on the winning track Thursday when they travel to Beaumont to face last year's Southland Conference tournament champions, the Lamar Cardinals.

The Bearkats and the Cardinals battle at 7:45 p.m. Thursday at the Montagne Center. The game will be broadcast live by KSAM 101.7 FM.

Lamar returns five lettermen from the squad that defeated McNeese 70-49 in last year's Southland tournament final to earn an NCAA first round game against Vermont. Forward Stan Brown is the lone returning starter from that team.

Sam Houston State put on a strong performance in its last outing Monday, falling to Southland Conference leader Northwestern State 73-64 after leading for most of the game.

The Bearkats stand 8-6 for the year and have won five of their last six games. Sam Houston stands 1-1 in league play. Lamar is 2-13 for the season and 0-3 in Southland Conference action.

Sam Houston's backcourt combo of Darius Gatson and DeMarcus Gatlin lead the team in scoring with averages of 9.1 and 7.4 points, respectively. Other scoring averages for the Kats include Terrance Motley 8.3, James Thomas 7.4, Nathaniel Mason 6.1 and Jeremy McKay 5.6.

Rhon Mitchell, a 6-5 forward, leads Lamar with 10.8 points per game.

"Every game in the Southland Conference this year is going to be a battle," Sam Houston head coach Jason Hooten said. "There's a lot of balance from top to bottom. We've got to play hard every game especially on the road."

The Lamar contest is the first of two road trips for the Bearkats this weekend. Sam Houston will play McNeese State Saturday afternoon in Lake Charles.