HUNTSVILLE – Head men’s basketball coach Jason Hooten announced the slate for the upcoming 2017-18 season of Sam Houston State basketball on Wednesday with 15 home games and a trip to the Great Alaska Shootout highlighting the schedule. 

The Bearkats will have 12 games in their pre-Southland schedule before opening up league play on December 30 at Abilene Christian. Hooten’s squad will make trips to Baylor (December 4), Ole Miss (December 13) and LSU (December 19) in a difficult month of December, while also squeezing in home contests against Little Rock (December 15) and Utah Valley (December 22).

“Our schedule is basically the same every year. We try to play great teams, and there are always some tough ones that we have to play,” Hooten said. “Baylor, LSU and Ole Miss are very tough games. The Great Alaska Shootout is a great mid-major tournament and we have two great home games against Little Rock and Utah Valley. In all, I think it will make for a tougher schedule than it was last year.”

The season is set to tip off at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum on November 11 against UT Tyler, followed three days later by a home meeting with Hardin-Simmons.

The highlight of the preseason schedule will come in late November when the Kats head to Alaska to take part in the 40th and final Great Alaska Shootout, a tournament played at the University of Alaska at Anchorage. Sam Houston will open the trip by stopping off in Moscow, Idaho, for a meeting with Vandals on Nov. 18 before proceeding to Anchorage where it will square off with Central Michigan in the tournament opener.

“Going to Alaska is a pretty neat opportunity in itself,” Hooten said. “It’s the oldest pre-conference tournament out there and it’s pretty nostalgic, and being a part of the final one is special. But so is the opportunity to go to Alaska. I’ve never been and it will be an incredible experience for our guys to see the things that are there.”

The result against the Chippewas will determine if the Kats next play on either Nov. 23 or 24, with the tournament finale set for Nov. 25. The Kats will then close out the month of November with home games against both Schreiner (Nov. 28) and St. Thomas (Nov. 30).

Following its tough December, Sam Houston will kick off the 2018 calendar year by continuing league play with a game against Central Arkansas on Jan. 3. They will follow with road games at UIW (Jan. 6) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Jan. 10) and consecutive home games against Houston Baptist (Jan. 13) and Northwestern State (Jan. 17).

Three of the next four games will come on the road to close out January, including a Jan. 27 trip to Nacogdoches to take on Piney Woods rival Stephen F. Austin. February will open up with three straight home games beginning on Feb. 3 against Abilene Christian and followed by meetings with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Feb. 7) and Lamar (Feb. 10). 

The Kats will then go on the road for three of their final five games to close out the regular season, with the two home games in that stretch coming against teams who have claimed the last five SLC championships. Sam Houston will welcome defending champion New Orleans in the teams’ only meeting on Feb. 21, and after a Feb. 28 trip to Central Arkansas, will close out the regular season when it hosts Stephen F. Austin on March 3 at Johnson Coliseum.

The Southland Conference Tournament will make its way back to the Merrell Center in Katy for the 11th consecutive season with competition set to begin March 7. Season tickets for the upcoming 2017-18 season will go on sale soon.