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College basketball fires back up Thursday

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ABILENE, Texas - After a short break for Christmas all three Abilene colleges will resume basketball games this coming weekend.

Both the ACU men and women will start Southland Conference play by taking on New Orleans, with the men on the road Thursday at 7 p.m., and the women at home Thursday at 2 p.m.

The ACU men enter the game at 8-5 overall after a 74-47 loss at No. 21 Texas Tech last Friday in their final non-conference game of the season. ACU’s eight wins before conference play begins are the most in the program’s NCAA Division I era, and those eight wins make ACU one of only three teams in the 13-team Southland Conference – joining 11-2 Stephen F. Austin and 8-5 Lamar – to post winning records in non-conference play.

New Orleans – which won both the regular-season and post-season tournament titles on its way to the NCAA Tournament in 2016-17 – enters league play at 3-8 overall after splitting a pair of games last week (a 107-59 win at home over Oklahoma Panhandle State on Dec. 18 and a 74-67 loss at Alabama-Birmingham on Dec. 20). The Privateers are 3-0 at home (wins over three non-Division I programs) and 0-8 on the road, all against Division I opposition.

The Wildcats are led by by a quartet of players in senior transfer Tevin Foster, juniors Jaylen Franklin and Jaren Lewis and redshirt sophomore Jalone Friday. Lewis leads the Southland Conference in field goal percentage (60.7 percent in the early going of the season), which ranks him 33rd in the country. He's also 11th in the league in rebounding (6.2 rpg).

Franklin is third in the league in total assists (63), and his average of 4.8 per game is good for third in the Southland. He is tied for sixth in the league in steals per game (2.1), and his 27 total steals are tied for the fifth-most in the league. Franklin is sixth in the league in field goal percentage (54.4 percent). 

Friday is 12th in the league ins coring at 14.7 ppg, while Foster is 20th at 11.6 ppg. ACU and Stephen F. Austin are the only two programs in the league with three scorers each in the top 20 in the league.

The ACU women are a young bunch that has grown up through the non-conference part of their schedule. Head coach Julie Goodenough earned her 400th career win in the Wildcats' last game, a win over Old Dominion.

At McMurry both teams are off to good starts. The women ran off five straight wins earlier in December, and at 4-1 in league play, are second in the American Southwest Conference.

The War Hawk men have the third best scoring defense in the conference, and are in second place in the West division. They are led by senior LaRandall Scroggins, who averages 15 points and 7 rebounds a game.

Scroggins is in the top 15 in five statistical categories in the conference.

At Hardin-Simmons, Matt Brackett's first year as head coach of the Cowboys has gotten off to a rocky start. 

HSU is 3-7 and 2-2 in conference. Joe Hoeup and Caleb Spoon led the way with close to 15 points per game a piece.

And the Cowgirls are also 3-7 overall, and have lost five straight games. However, the road weary squad will enjoy five straight home games to ring in the new year beginning Jan. 1 against Nebraska Wesleyan.

Danie Mabry has the best three-point field goal percentage in the ASC.  

 

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