In a game marred by 51 personal fouls, the Bearkats took advantage of their trips to the charity line, hit 28-of-37 free throws for a 75.7 percentage. Samford was 11-of-17 at the line for 64.7%.
"We got 37 points tonight out of two newcomers that have played in 13 Division I games," Sam Houston head coach Jason Hooten said. "If we keep playing as hard as we did tonight, we're going to keep getting better and better."
Sam Houston (5-8) never trailed after a fast start, going up 14-6 in the first eight minutes and leading at intermission 39-22.
Samford (3-8) rallied in the second half, going on a 14-3 run to cut the Bearkat margin to four points, 47-43, on a pair of free throws by Jeffrey Merritt with 11:47 to play.
Sam Houston stopped the rally with a pair of free throws by Steven Werner at the 10:27 mark and a lay-up and three-point shot by Gatliln to put the Bearkats safely in front again 57-45 with 6:21 remaining.
"We played some tough defense tonight and it paid off for us," Hooten said. "We take a lot of pride in our defensive play."
Sam Houston caused 25 Bulldog turnovers, totaling 13 steals and scoring 30 points off Samford's miscues.
Marcus James scored 10 points and led the Bearkats on the boards with eight rebounds. Brandon Hayman was the only Bulldog in double figures with 10 points. Merritt led Samford with eight rebounds.
Konner Tucker and Werner each scored nine points and Aaron Harwell totaled six. Harwell and Gatson each had five assists. Harwell led the Bearkats with four steals.
Sam Houston is 5-0 at home in Johnson Coliseum and will return to play host to Jarvis Christian Monday, Jan. 2, at 7 p.m.