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There will be round two action in the NIT on Sunday afternoon as the Sam Houston State Bearkats take on the North Texas Mean Green. SHS had a dominant season in the WAC cut short by an upset loss to Grand Canyon in the semifinals. They rebounded to win their opening-round NIT game against Santa Clara. Meanwhile, North Texas lost in the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament but has 27 wins after taking out Alcorn State in the opening round of the NIT.
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Bearkats on the ProwlThe Sam Houston Bearkats had a dominant season in the WAC that ended too early with a loss to eventual champion Grand Canyon in the semifinals of the conference tournament. The Bearkats were able to regroup after an invite to the NIT and pulled out a 58-56 win at Santa Clara on Wednesday night. Sam Houston's Cameron Huefner scored with just a minute to go and the Bearkats were able to turn away a last-second layup attempt by Santa Clara to advance to round two. Qua Grant led the Bearkats with a game-high 21 points, including four straight points to take back the lead late in the game. Sam Houston's tenacious defense held Santa Clara to under 40% shooting from the field in the win.
Kats win! Kats win! On to the next round of the NIT!— Sam Houston Men's Basketball (@BearkatsMBB) March 16, 2023
⬆️58-56 FINAL#EatEmUpKats pic.twitter.com/tfQWJcerrc
Sam Houston is now 26-7 and have its first postseason win since 2018. The Bearkats are scoring over 80 points per game and shooting 46% from the field. They are shooting just 27% from beyond the arc, hitting six per game. Defensively, the Bearkats have been outstanding. Sam Houston has held the opposition to just under 47 points per game this season on just 31% shooting. The opposition is shooting 25% from long range. Sam Houston averages a whopping 48.5 rebounds per game and has a turnover margin of 9.8 this season. The Bearkats forced 19 turnovers in round one.
Mean Green on the MoveThe North Texas Mean Green come into this matchup at 27-7 on the season and coming off a resounding first-round win over Alcorn State, 69-53. The Mean Green has now won an opening-round game in the NIT for two straight seasons. North Texas was led by Tylor Perry with 21 points, including 15 in the second half. Perry was 6-of-12 from the floor, including 4-of-8 from 3pt range. A 13-3 run to start the second half helped the Mean Green to put away Alcorn State. North Texas held Alcorn State to 31% shooting from the floor overall, including 24% in the second half.
"They gave us everything in the first half and got on the offensive glass and gave us problems," said head coach Grant McCasland of the Braves who led for part of the first half and were down just four at halftime. "(Alcorn State) competed and we have a ton of respect for them. I thought in the second half our defense really stepped up and we were able to separate."
📽️ Highlights from our NIT first round 69-53 win over Alcorn St.#GMG pic.twitter.com/bzzirDcFrF— North Texas Basketball (@MeanGreenMBB) March 17, 2023
North Texas hopes to pick up their 28th win of the season in round two of the NIT. The Mean Green are 13-2 at home this season heading into this matchup. North Texas is averaging 64.4 points per game on the season and shooting the ball at a 43% clip. North Texas is shooting 34% from long range, averaging seven 3pt field goals per game. Defensively, North Texas is allowing teams to score an average of 55.6 points per game. The Mean Green are holding teams to under 40% shooting from the field as well. They are also holding the opposition to 31% shooting from 3pt range.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
North Texas comes into this matchup with 12 wins in its last fourteen games. The Mean Green is also 10-4 ATS in that time period. The team is 13-2 at home this season and has held the opposition to 55 points or less in five of the last six games. The Mean Green has also won seven straight home games. Sam Houston's offense has also leveled off since some early season victories that pushed the team's total well over 80 points per game. The Bearkats have failed to score their average in 13 straight games. They have failed to score over 64 points in each of their last three road games. North Texas will dictate play and pull out an eighth straight home win.
Take North Texas.
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Full-Game Total Pick
One look at the pace of play for each team and one realizes that the tempo of this game will not be fast. North Texas is near the bottom of the list, ranking 363rd in the nation in pace of play. Only slightly ahead of the Mean Green sits Sam Houston, ranking 324th in the country. Both teams have top-notch defenses and are holding the opposition under 60 points per game. Sam Houston has gone under the total in eight of its last nine games. North Texas has gone under the total in five of its last eight games. This will be a defensive game that moves at a glacier pace.
Take the under.