Sam Houston State opens its 11th consecutive appearance in the Southland Conference men's basketball post-season tournament tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Ferrell Center in Katy.

The sixth-seeded Bearkats take on Central Arkansas, a team that is winless in 10 tries against Sam Houston. he prize is a spot in the conference quarterfinal round on Thursday night against No. 3 seed Oral Roberts.

The Kats are mainstays in the conference tournament, while the seventh-seeded Bears are in their first postseason event since the 2005-06 season. In some respects, UCA head coach Corliss Williamson and his group are just happy to be in this position.

"I'm really happy that we're still playing," Williamson said this week. "And I'm really proud of how our guys have been working lately. They knew what they had to do to get into the tournament and they did it. One of our goals was to make the tournament, and they went out and accomplished that.

"We are definitely carrying some momentum into this week."

The Bearkats have had some highs and lows along the way through the 2013 Southland campaign. One of the bright spots has been the play of junior forward James Thomas who has scored in double figures in each of the team's last eight games and leads the squad in league action with a 10.1 scoring average.

To keep the Bears from picking up their first-ever win over Sam Houston, the Bearkats will have their trademark smothering defense.

"Central Arkansas features a group of talented athletes," Sam Houston head coach Jason Hooten said. "They will present a lot of challenges. The tournament is an exciting time and anything can happen."

Both Thomas and senior guard Darius Gatson earned All-Southland Conference honorable mention honors this week

Led by Jarvis Garner (16.1 points per game) and LaQuentin Miles (15.3 ppg), Central Arkansas has the second-highest scoring offense in the league behind Northwestern State. The Bears, however, give up the most points of any team in the Southland (79.4).

KSAM 101.7 FM will broadcast the contest live Wednesday night. Live streaming also is available on the Southland Conference web site.