The Sam Houston State men’s basketball team will stay in state for this season’s non-conference basketball tournament. The last two years, the Kats have traveled to Indiana and Notre Dame as part of an early season tournament, but this year they will see a few familiar venues.

The Kats will be one of eight teams taking part in the 2013 Corpus Christi Challenge. Sam Houston will open the tournament with a pair of road games, heading to College Station to take on Texas A&M on Nov. 24. They will then head up to Dallas to play SMU two days later.

All the teams will then meet in Corpus Christi on Nov. 29 and 30 for two more games. Sam Houston will play Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 3:30 p.m. in the American Bank Center on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The next day the Bearkats will play either Hampton or Liberty.

“I like the neutral site opportunities in Corpus since it is so hard to schedule home games,” head basketball coach Jason Hooten said. “The games against SMU and Texas A&M are teams that our fan base knows. They will be challenging games, but will prepare us for league play.”

The other teams in the tournament who the Kats will not face are Virginia and Missouri State.

The Bearkats last played Texas A&M in 2011, falling 64-37 to the Aggies. It will be the 59th meeting between the two schools, but just the seventh since moving to Division I in 1987. The Aggies hold the all-time series advantage with a 40-18 mark. The series dates back to 1921.

Despite the campuses being separated by just XXX miles, this will be only the second ever meeting with SMU. The two met in a 1990 SMU win in Dallas.

The Bearkats hosted Liberty last season as part of the Legends Classic tournament in Huntsville, winning 60-54 in the only meeting between the two schools. The Kats have never faced Arkansas Pine Bluff or Hampton.

The Bearkats return four starters from last season’s 17-17 squad that finished fifth in the Southland Conference. The Kats picked up a pair of wins in the SLC postseason tournament in Katy, falling in the semifinals to Northwestern State.

Tickets for the final rounds in Corpus Christi can be purchased by visiting or purchase by phone by dialing 1-800-745-3000.