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Sunday sit-down: ACU men's basketball team

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ABILENE, Texas - The ACU men's basketball is off to a fantastic start to the 2017-2018 season, with a 7-3 record and four straight wins against Bowling Green, Schreiner, Air Force and Texas State.

Two members of the team, head coach Joe Golding and junior guard/forward Jaren Lewis, joined KTXS sports reporter Evan Nemec in studio to talk about their season so far.

Below is a transcript of that interview.

Evan: That was a big win over Texas State on Saturday, and here to talk about that win are two members of the A-C-U men's basketball team, head coach Joe Golding and junior forward Jaren Lewis. Coach, four straight wins for your team. What has worked lately?

Joe: Good players. There's no question. It's a group that's been together for a while. We learned how to win last year, and this year we've learned how to put wins together as you've seen on this streak. We had a great talk in North Carolina a couple of weeks ago after our U-S-C Upstate game, and we had some great leadership. Jaren being a vocal leader of our group and since that point these guys have really taken off.

Evan: In that win against Texas State, you guys were down eight at halftime. What changed in the second half?

Jaren: We knew what we had to do. Coach came into the locker room and told us to play harder. That was the simple message. We knew what we had to do, and knew if we played hard we would be in a better position to win. That's what we came out did. Came harder, came with more effort and things started clicking for us.

Evan: The past several years you guys have had a young team, and that means they get more experience than typical. And then you brought back the three-leading scorers from last season. What has it been like to see those growing pains turn into the results you want to see?

Joe: It's been very rewarding for me. We knew when they were freshmen they had a chance to be good down the road because they work extremely hard. They're a very close-knit group, and we have deeper bench than we've ever had before. The maturity of this group, last night being a perfect example at halftime. Two years ago I probably would've grabbed the water cooler and thrown it at them and broke the chalkboard, but now I trust them and I think that goes with me being around these guys for a long time. I trust them. I don't have to scream and holler at them anymore. They know what to do. Sometimes I've got to remind them and find different ways to motivate them to get it out of them.

Evan: One of the over-arching things of ACU sports in general, is you guys are now fully Division I. You can play in post-season tournaments. Jaren, what does that feel like where you've gone through a couple years knowing you can't make the conference tournament and now you have that opportunity?

Jaren: It feels great. We've been waiting a long time for it. Coach specifically told my class when he was recruiting us that it'd be worth the wait. He really sold that message to us. Now we're here. We're ready to get started. It's going to feel good to be able to compete on the highest level.

Evan: One of the guys that's made a big impact this season has been Tevin Foster. A new guy coming in. How has he been able to gel so quickly?

Jaren: When we were all here for summer classes and work-outs he was a great guy and a great teammate. He fit right in. Everybody was cool with him at first. We found out the type of player, and the type of dude that he was and he fit into our culture. We accepted him in with open arms, and that's really how our whole locker room is. We have that family vibe in there. He fit in right away.

Evan: Coach Golding, Jaren Lewis from the ACU basketball team. Thank you so much for joining us. 7-and-3 start for the Wildcats. They are next at Lipscomb next Sunday. They are back at home December 19th against Arlington Baptist.

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