The Wildcats (17-7, 8-5) gained their sixth-straight win after defeating Tarleton (11-14, 6-6) Saturday night, 77-63.
ACU and Tarleton have revamped their previous Lone Star Conference rivalry back from 2007-13. Tarleton has a defeating history with the Wildcats, with an overall historical record of 10-2.
“Obviously it’s an old school rivalry and so there’s a little more pressure than the average game,” said head coach Brette Tanner. “The bottom line is that it is a conference game and that’s all we talked to our guys about.”
As ACU has renamed themselves in the Division 1 standings, Tarleton has yet to get close to touching a win against the Wildcats.
The Wildcats started off strong with Airion Simmons, a junior forward from Little Rock, Arkansas, making a fastbreak three-pointer within the first 20 seconds, giving ACU the lead.
In the first half, the Wildcats had a field goal percentage of 53 percent and shot 38 percent from the 3-point line. Coryon Mason, a senior guard from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, made four out of nine shots, with two of them being three-pointers, leading him to gain 10 total points.
Throughout the beginning of the first half, the lead shifted back and forth, but towards the end, Tarleton started to push forward.
Montre Gipson, a senior guard from Desoto, led the Texans with 21 points, four rebounds, and five assists. Gipson led the team with 11 points and four assists in the first half.
“Our guys know that in any point in time we can’t relax and lose control,” Tanner said. “We just have to take it game by game.”
Around the last four minutes of the first half, ACU stepped up and started making their shots, ending the first half in a tie, 37-37.
Simmons led the Wildcats with 15 points, seven rebounds, and one assist. Simmons created opportunities for ACU by scoring 7 points in the first half, while only playing four minutes.
Coming out of halftime, the Wildcats came out aggressive, holding Tarleton to only scoring one point in five minutes, while ACU scored 13.
“We didn’t turn the ball over as much in the second half and we were able to score off of our turnovers,” Tanner said.
With eight minutes left in the second half, the Wildcats created a 10-point deficit that stayed for the rest of the game, leading ACU to their victory over Tarleton.
Up next, the Wildcats stay on the road to play Sam Houston State in Huntsville at 6:30 pm, with the game streaming on ESPN+.