HUNTSVILLE - After guiding the Bearkats to their first Southland Conference regular-season championship last season under his helm, Sam Houston State men’s basketball coach Jason Hooten announced Tuesday the road to another title with the release of the 2019-20 schedule.
The Bearkats will play 15 home games, including five nonconference matchups, against some quality opponents. Sam Houston State will be on the road for 15 games beginning with an SEC tilt in Starkville against Mississippi State on Nov. 8.
“Our nonconference schedule is very tough as it usually is, but definitely fair,” Hooten said. “We have a bunch of tough road games in November that will prepare us for our conference slate starting in December.”
The Bearkats open the season with a home contest at Johnson Coliseum against Paul Quinn on Nov. 5 and host LeTourneau on Nov. 12 following the trip to Mississippi.
Sam Houston State then runs into a challenging road schedule beginning with another matchup against Central Michigan on Nov. 16 in Mount Pleasant. This is the third straight season the Bearkats and Chippewas face-off with Central Michigan winning the previous two meetings, 81-65 in Huntsville last year and 71-60 at the Great Alaska Shootout in 2017.
Sam Houston State heads to the West Coast before Thanksgiving. The Bearkats will play San Francisco Nov. 23 and CSU Bakersfield Nov. 26.
Before the calendar rolls over to December, Sam Houston State will host Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 30, then hit the road to South Texas to play UTRGV in Edinburg on Dec. 3.
The rest of December is home heavy.
Louisiana Tech comes to Johnson Coliseum Dec. 8 after the two teams faced off in Ruston last season, a 76-69 win for the Bulldogs. The Bearkats host Wiley College a week later on Dec. 15.
In a twist, the Southland Conference added two league games to the schedule so SLC action begins in December this season. Sam Houston State welcomes Northwestern State to town on Dec. 18. New Orleans comes to Johnson Coliseum Dec. 21 before the Bearkats play their final nonconference contest at Rice on Dec. 29.
“Our conference schedule just keeps getting tougher each year, and now with the 2 added games (20 total), it will definitely be a fight until the end,” Hooten said. “We obviously had a great conference run last season, winning a championship at 16-2, so this year will be even more challenging as the team to dethrone.”
Sam Houston State plays four SLC road games in January at McNeese (Jan. 2), Central Arkansas (Dec. 11), Lamar (Dec. 15) and Houston Baptist (Jan. 18). January home games include Nicholls (Jan. 4), Southeastern Louisiana (Jan. 8), Abilene Christian (Jan. 22) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Jan. 29).
The hardcourt edition of the Battle of the Piney Woods opens the February slate. The Bearkats host Stephen F. Austin on Feb. 1.
Sam Houston State jumps on the bus for three straight games at Incarnate Word (Feb. 5), Nicholls (Feb. 8) and Southeastern Louisiana (Feb. 12). The Bearkats host Central Arkansas (Feb. 15), Lamar (Feb. 19) and Houston Baptist (Feb. 22) then end the month at Abilene Christian on Feb. 26.
The final two regular-season games are at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (March 4) and SFA (March 7).
The Southland Conference Tournament will be held March 11-14 at the Merrell Center in Katy.