Men’s basketball has lost back-to-back games one time during conference play this year. They will look to keep it that way as the team travels to Houston for a Thursday night game.
The Wildcats hit the road for one of their bigger games of the season against Houston Baptist University. ACU sits at 6-6 in conference and 11-14 overall, while the Huskies are 15-11 and 9-4 in league play.
After their game with the Huskies, the Wildcats return to Abilene and will play four of their final five games at home, including a season-ending three-game home stand.
The Wildcats have had a tough time playing away from Moody Coliseum this season. ACU has dropped 10 of 12 road games, but beat Lamar, 71-67, in their last road matchup. With the return of freshman Jaylen Franklin, who missed ACU’s last game with the flu, and junior Jovan Crnic, who played with flu-like symptoms, ACU should look to be back at full strength.
Head coach Joe Golding’s squad is coming off one of their worst defensive efforts of the season. The Wildcats were forced to play Sam Houston State at Hardin-Simmons Monday night, with Sing Song taking over Moody Coliseum, and suffered their first home conference loss of the year, 84-71.
The Bearkats made a program record 22-22 free throws in the game and is the best free throw shooting mark by a Div. I team this year. The Wildcats, without contributions from Franklin and senior starters Parker Wentz and Duran Porter, struggled to score. The 84 points is also the most amount of points given up by the Wildcats since they allowed 97 points to Stephen F. Austin a month ago.
“It’s hard to play a home game that’s not really in your gym, but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” Golding said. “But no matter where we play, we can’t expect to beat anyone by giving up 80 plus points in a game.”
With several home games left on the slate, the Wildcats can make a late push to move up in the final standings and improve on what has already been their best Div. I season to date. It won’t be easy however as ACU will face Southeastern Louisiana (5-7 in conference), Incarnate Word (8-4) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (10-3) in Moody Coliseum.
Before any of that, the Wildcats will focus on trying to beat Houston Baptist for the second time this season. In their last game, ACU handed HBU its first conference loss of the season, 79-72. The loss was the first of what would be a four straight losses for HBU, moving them from first to third in the Southland. The Huskies rebounded for a 79-78 win over Lamar, moving them to 11-1 at home this year.
The Huskies continue to be led by senior guard Anthony Odunsi. After scoring 22 points against ACU on February 2, Odunsi has averaged 19 points per game over his last four games and averages 17.3 points, 49 percent shooting and close to nine free throw attempts per game. Junior forward Colter Lasher is second on the team with 10.3 points per game after averaging close to 15 points in the three games leading up to HBU’s game with ACU. The 6-foot-7 Anchorage, Alaska native has reached double-digits in seven of his last eight games.
For ACU, Franklin leads the Wildcats with 15.9 points per game in a season that has him as the favorite for Southland Conference Freshman of the Year Award. Senior guard Jalen Little and freshman Jaren Lewis are coming off one of their best games of the season against Sam Houston State. Little dropped in a career-high 19 points on 4-7 three-point shooting and added five assists. Lewis added 17 points off the bench for the Wildcats and grabbed 11 rebounds for his first career double-double. He’s also been active on the defensive side, recording seven steals over the last three games.