Feast Week continued on Tuesday and a pair of WAC schools played in the early games of the day.
Coming off a really poor offensive outing, Grand Canyon was looking to right the ship at the Hall of Fame Classic.
And, after a pair of Power 6 road wins to open the 2022-23 season, Tuesday was the first time Sam Houston faced a mid-major opponent in its non-conference slate.
And while both teams each won their respective games, they did so in very different ways on Tuesday.
GCU 69, Northern Iowa 67
It seems as though every game GCU has played in 2022-23, it has been a tale of two halves. Take the season opener vs. Montana State, for instance. The Bobcats had a 17-point lead at the break due to GCU’s offensive inabilities. After the break, fans saw a completely different GCU squad. Same thing in the loss at Nevada. The Lopes hung tough in the first half. But, in the second half, fell apart offensively.
Well, on Tuesday at the T-Mobile Center, it was a similar story. GCU took a 14-point lead into the halftime locker room. And then the Lopes had to hang on for dear life to walk out of Kansas City with a win.
Gabe McGlothan hit a free throw to make it 69-66 with 13 seconds to play. And then before Bowen Born could get up a 3-point attempt, he was fouled. Born hit the first free throw but had to miss the second. And Tytan Anderson’s put back was off the mark to give the Lopes the win.
30 coming in hot for the putback‼️? @GabeMcGlothan5
? @CBSSportsNet pic.twitter.com/mDYG1PAbEW
— Grand Canyon Men’s Basketball (@GCU_MBB) November 22, 2022
McGlothan finished with 13 points and 18 rebounds. Chance McMillian had 16 points off the bench. Josh Baker, Yvan Ouedraogo and Jovan Blacksher Jr. were all in double figures with 13, 11, and 10 points apiece.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad game, per se. The Lopes got the win and improved to 4-2 overall. But, there is something still off about this team. Rayshon Harrison had 25 points in Friday’s win over Grambling. In two games in Kansas City, Harrison had a combined nine points.
Jovan Blacksher Jr. finished with 10 points on Tuesday. But, the senior guard had just six points on Monday.
If the Lopes are to live up to the preseason hype, consistency has to come at some point. But, the schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Lopes host Pepperdine on Saturday, Alcorn State Tuesday, and then had to Laramie to take on Wyoming on Dec. 3 before hosting Loyola Marymount on Dec. 7.
No Letdown for the Bearkats
Sometimes teams coming off a big time upset win have a letdown. Not the case for the Sam Houston Bearkats.
Following a pair of upset wins at Oklahoma and Utah, the Bearkats have generated a lot of hype, even climbing to no. 10 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25.
How would the Bearkats respond to playing their first mid-major opponent of the 2022-23 season?
Well, Qua Grant and company responded in a big way.
Grant had a team-high 19 points as the Bearkats led wire-to-wire in an 88-54 win over Northern Illinois in the Fort Myers Tip-Off.
Lamar Wilkerson and Donte Powers were also in double figures with 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Lamar Wilkerson makes it ? so easy.#EatEmUpKats pic.twitter.com/UWBuMuEOL1
— Sam Houston Men's Basketball (@BearkatsMBB) November 22, 2022
The Bearkats forced 22 turnovers, scored 34 points off those turnovers and hit 12 3-pointers in the win.
11 Bearkats also scored in the game. Northern Illinois led for all of about two minutes at 2-0 before Sam Houston took control. The Bearkats led by 19 at the break and extended that lead to 34 in the second half.
Sam Houston had 46 bench points, 34 points in the paint, 13 steals and four blocks in the game.
The Bearkats improve to 5-0 overall and will face either LIU or South Dakota on Wednesday to cap off the Fort Myers Tip-Off.