At 3-4, the Wildcats sit below .500 in conference play for the first time this season. With Lamar University and Houston Baptist coming to Moody on Saturday and Tuesday, ACU needs at least a split.
ACU has dropped its last two games, a 72-51 loss to Sam Houston and a 74-60 defeat to rival Incarnate Word. The Wildcats return home to Moody Coliseum, where they are 6-2, in need of an offensive rejuvenation.
After scoring a season-low against the Bearkats on Monday night in Huntsville, the Wildcats scoring average dropped to 65.6 points per game, worst in the league. The men average 77 points per game at home, and will need to find their offensive rhythm to stay competitive in conference.
Freshman standout Jaylen Franklin continues to carry most of the offensive burden for ACU. He’s averaging 14.8 points overall and 15.4 in conference, continuing to make his case for freshman of the year.
Senior Parker Wentz finished in double-digits for the first time in the last four games with 16 points against Sam Houston. He comes in at 9.6 points per game and 46 percent from beyond the arc. Senior Duran Porter and freshman Jaren Lewis carry the rebounding load for the Wildcats, both averaging 6.1 boards per game during conference.
The Wildcats get the weekend rolling with Lamar (2-6, 10-10) on Saturday. The Cardinals have been less than ideal in conference play, losing six of their eight games so far, and securing wins against only Nicholls in the opener and Northwestern State. Lamar is riding a three-game losing streak, and comes off a blow out loss to Stephen F. Austin in Nacagodoches, 86-52.
Offensively, the Cardinals are the fourth best scoring team in the Southland (77.3). Freshman guard Nick Garth leads Lamar at 15.9 points per game during conference play, and is also considered one of the top freshman in the conference, along with Franklin.
Senior forward Dontavious Sears averages 9.3 points and a team-high eight rebounds per game. Sears recorded four-straight double-doubles to start conference play for Lamar, averaging 13.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game over that span. In their last two games however, Sears has played just eight minutes.
The Cardinals excel at hitting the glass for second chance opportunities. They lead the conference in rebounds per game (42.7) and offensive boards per game (15.7).
The Houston Baptist Huskies are having a memorable season. At 7-0, they’re one of three teams (SFA and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) that remain undefeated in conference play. The Huskies are 9-0 at home in the HBU Sharp Gym, but lucky for ACU, the game will be played a long way from Houston.
The Huskies return to conference play against Sam Houston State after a brief pause with a win against Hillsdale Baptist. After their game against the Bearkats on Saturday, HBU will travel to Moody to play the Wildcats.
It’s hard to win night in and night out in the Southland Conference, so it’s special that HBU is still undefeated at this point. However, its’ record can be misleading. During conference play, HBU’s opponents have a combined league record of 12-38, indicating that the Huskies have not gone up against any of the elite talent of the Southland Conference. That will change however, as they’ll play Sam Houston (11-10, 6-2) before ACU.
Anthony Odunsi is one of the top scorers in the conference. The red-shirt senior is second in the conference at 21.4 points per game during league play. He’s also on a shooting tear over his last seven games, hitting 47 percent from the field, 46 percent from three and 85 percent from the line. Against New Orleans, Odunsi put in a season-high 28 points on 6-8 shooting and converting 15-18 free throw attempts.
Odunsi lives at the free throw line, attempting 158 free throws for the season so far, making it around eight attempts per contest. In his last trip to Moody, he recorded two points, but scored 20 on ACU the last time they visited Houston. Expect head coach Joe Golding to put Lewis on Odunsi for much of the game, as one of the Wildcats most flexible defenders.
6-foot-11, 250 lbs. Josh Ibarra mans the middle for the Huskies. The sophomore center averages 12.9 points per game in Southland play and 8.3 rebounds, second in conference.
The Wildcats tip off with Lamar Saturday at 4 p.m. They then host Houston Baptist on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.