By Joshua Parrott, Sports Writer
The men’s basketball team is in unusual territory as it closes out a two-game Lone Star Conference crossover road trip tomorrow: it has a winning record.
After opening the season with tough five-point victory against Howard Payne and dominant offensive explosion in a 120-78 win over St. Edward’s, the Wildcats fell to Oklahoma Panhandle State, 81-58. ACU played Central Oklahoma Thursday night on the road and will take on Northeastern State Saturday night at Dob-bins Field House in Tahlequah, Okla. The Redmen, who finished 28-2 last season, won the LSC title and reached the second round of the South Cen-tral Regional Tournament, but the results from Thursday night’s game were not available at press time.
Head coach Klint Pleasant said he is glad his team is 2-1 (for fourth place in the LSC South di-vision), but he said the Cats could easily be undefeated.
“I saw how poor we played against Panhandle State, and all of our mistakes were correctable ones,” said Pleasant, who is in his first year at the helm for the Wildcats. “But losing is a part of growing as a team, and it’s a long season.”
Pleasant said his team’s carelessness with the ball was the deciding factor in the first loss of his young Wildcat coaching career. Though junior guard Ryan Coleman had a career-high 11 assists in the win at St. Edward’s, ACU turned the ball over 30 times against Panhandle State and were visibly affected by the loss of junior point guard Cliff Green. Coleman did have eight assists in the loss to Panhandle State filling in for Green, who will be eligible to play Dec. 14 against Dallas Christian.
A summer of weightlifting has transformed Rodney Lee from last season’s leading scorer and second team all-Lone Star Confer-ence selection into a dominant scorer and first option on the offensive end of the court.
Lee, who is averaging more than 25 points a night for the Wildcats and switched jersey numbers from No. 32 to No. 3, said winning the first game against Howard Payne was a huge boost.
“It makes it seem like we can win anywhere,” said Lee, who is one of the co-captains for this season’s team alongside junior forward Tucker Pierson.
Lee set a career high and nearly broke the school rec-ord for most three-pointers made in a single game when he made seven of nine att-empts from be-yond the arch against St. Ed-ward’s. Lee made a large contribution to the victory with a career-high 38 points against the Hilltop-pers. Through three games, the Fort Worth native is shooting better than 45 percent from the field and 48 percent from behind the arch, a dramatic increase from last season’s numbers (39.5 and 37.9 percent, respectively).
Following Saturday’s game, the Wildcats play host to Dallas Christian on Saturday, Dec. 14 for a non-conference tilt.