The Wildcats knew their season would continue after accepting an invitation to the Collegeinsider.com Tournament (CIT), but they didn’t know much more. But Saturday morning ACU found out the where and the who, as the men are scheduled to take on Drake at the Knapp Center on Monday, March 12.
The game which has been dubbed, the Lou Henson Classic, will begin at 1 p.m. and pits the 16-15 Wildcats against the 16-16 Drake Bulldogs. The two teams have just met one other time, when Drake defeated ACU 87-70 back in 2015.
Many of the Wildcats will remember that game in fact, then freshman Jaren Lewis received his first career start in that game and went for 15 points.
For Drake, Reed Timmer leads the Bulldogs with 19.6 points per game. He also enters the game as the program’s leading scorer with 1,974 career and will be looking to become the first Bulldog to eclipse 2,000 points.
Meanwhile, sophomore Jalone Friday leads the Wildcats offensively with 13.3 points per game. Lewis is close behind with 13.2 ppg and leads ACU with 7.5 rebounds per game.
How They Got Here
ACU was knocked out of Southland Conference Tournament contention just 15 minutes after its game against UIW ended, as McNeese State defeated Lamar 69-60. Eventually it was Texas A&M-Corpus Christi leapfrogging both ACU and McNeese to grab the final spot in the Southland tournament.
Senior guard Drake Green said it was a good feeling to find out his career as a Wildcat will continue for at least one more week.
“After the Incarnate Word game we found out that the team we needed to lose actually won, so a lot of people were kind of down about that, but we moved past it,” Green said.”We were all really excited but also nervous because we never really knew what was going to happen, or how [the postseason] could work out because this is all new to all of us too, but it’s a good feeling to know that we are going to be able to play again and get to compete.”
The Wildcats finished the season with an overall record of 16-15 and secured a winning regular season record for the first time in the last 10 years. But the team will have an opportunity to add more entering its first Div. 1 postseason tournament.
The men finished the season in a little of a slump, falling in four of their last five, but head coach Joe Golding said the team is excited to begin a journey in which they control the narrative.
“Any time when you have a good season I think you want to be able to finish on your own terms,” Golding said. “Incarnate Word we were able to get the win but we didn’t get the rest of what had to happen for us to get to Katy. But now when you have the chance to go to postseason play, you control your own destiny. Now we know if we win we advance if we lose we go home, so we’re going to end this season on our terms now.”
ACU’s three biggest wins so far this season came over Bowling Green, Air Force and Texas State, all during the non-conference portion of the schedule. The Wildcats also defeated Sam Houston State during conference 75-72. The Bearkats are the fourth seed in the Southland Conference Tournament.
In last year’s CIT saw the Wildcats’ conference rival, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi make it to the championship game, before falling to St. Peter’s 62-61. This year is also the 10th anniversary of the tournament.