St. Edward’s had an incredible start to the season last week. The Hilltoppers began the week with a solid 77-76 exhibition win at NCAA DI UTSA before returning home to host two games against teams from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. These are important early season games against teams from the South Central Region and will be used in the regional rankings later in the season to determine which teams enter the playoffs and playoff seeding. The Hilltoppers earned a win over Colorado Christian 93-67 last Friday before defeating Colorado Mesa 84-72 on Saturday.
Lubbock Christian used a suffocating defense and stellar play from Brennan Fowler to begin the season with two solid victories. The Chaparrals played in the RMAC/Heartland Challenge in San Antonio last week and defeated a Colorado School of Mines team that received votes in the preseason rankings, 70-62. The Chaps followed that performance with a 63-58 win over No. 18 Regis (Colo.). Brennan Fowler proved to be a force in the first two games as he averaged 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds for the Chaps. The defense was solid for LCU as they held teams to 38.9 percent field goal shooting in the two games.
UT Permian Basin had an impressive start to the new season while debuting a new roster and head coach. Josh Newman became the head coach of the Falcons after 12 years as head coach of Arkansas-Fort Smith. The Falcons continued their up-tempo play from previous years and defeated Adams State 101-98 in Alamosa, Colo. on Friday before traveling to high altitude Gunnison, Colo. and beating Western State Colorado, 98-86. Adam Rivera is averaging 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds after the opening weekend while Kyree Elder is contributing 16 points per game.
No. 4 West Texas have struggled from the 3-point line early in the season. The Buffs only made 5-of-30 3-point attempts in a 77-72 loss to Western State Colorado in Gunnison, Colo. last Friday. The Buffs rebounded and found the shooting touch that had been missing to open the season and blitzed Adams State 112-87 when they made 15-of-36 3-point attempts.
No. 21 Dallas Baptist is another team with high hopes to begin the season who are struggling with shooting in the early games. The Patriots have only averaged 43.5 percent shooting from the floor in the opening weekend and were outrebounded by 17 in two games, losing to Colorado Mesa 91-80 before squeaking by Colorado Christian 86-85 last Saturday.
Texas A&M International were hoping for a better start to the season and played two teams picked to finish at the bottom of the conference this season. The Dustdevils struggled on both ends of the floor as they shot 32.7 percent over the weekend while allowing 47.6 percent shooting to their opponents. The Dustdevils fell 61-54 to Chadron State last Friday before losing 68-42 to South Dakota School of Mines to begin what is expected to be a tough season for TAMIU.
GAMES TO WATCH:
Lubbock Christian at No. 4 West Texas A&M Thursday at 7 p.m. in Canyon, Texas
St. Mary’s vs UT Permian Basin Friday at 5 p.m. in Laredo, Texas
MSU Texas at CSU-Pueblo Friday at 8 p.m. in Pueblo, Colo.
Cameron at Lubbock Christian Saturday at 2 p.m. in Lubbock, Texas
St. Edward’s at Angelo State at 7 p.m. Saturday in San Angelo, Texas
Mary Hardin-Baylor played well on both ends of the floor last weekend and won two games against teams from the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Cru played both games on the road as they defeated Schreiner 83-64 Friday and won 90-87 Saturday over Texas Lutheran. UMHB was not predicted to make a run in the American Southwest Conference this season but may be towards the top of the West Division.
UT Dallas opened the season in convincing fashion last Saturday as they defeated Hendrix 104-60 in the Comets homecoming game. The Comets were extremely impressive on the defensive end as they held Hendrix to 27.8 percent shooting from the floor. The offense was also clicking as UTD shot 54.7 percent from the field led by Dimitrius Underwood who was impressive as he recorded 19 points and 14 rebounds.
LeTourneau went on the road last weekend and opened the season against two tough basketball teams. LETU hit a game winning 3-point shot as time expired last Friday to win 73-72 over Willamette. The YellowJackets then lost 104-90 to No. 4 Whitman last Saturday. LETU will need to improve its defense from behind the 3-point line and allowed opponents to shoot a combined 43.1 percent for the weekend.
Howard Payne entered the season predicted to be near the bottom of the ASC this season and got off to a rough start last weekend. The Yellow Jackets lost 101-95 at home last Friday to Austin College, who is predicted to finish last in the SCAC. HPU committed nine turnovers against the Kangaroos which allowed the ‘Roos 11 more field goal attempts in the game. HPU did shoot well from the floor as they hit 54.1 percent from the field.
Hardin-Simmons played tough against a Centenary (La.) team predicted to finish near the top of the SCAC this season before falling 84-79 on the road last Saturday. The area of concern for the Cowboys is the 3-point line. The Cowboys offense struggled beyond the arc and only made 6-of-26 shots for a low 23.1 percent while allowing the Gents to hit 8-of-16 shots from beyond the arc.
Schreiner entered the season with high expectations as they were predicted to finish atop the SCAC this year. The season did not start as planned last weekend as they lost 83-64 to a Mary Hardin-Baylor team predicted to finish in the middle of the ASC West Division. The Mountaineers allowed UMHB to shoot 51.8 percent from the floor while they were only able to make 21-of-65 shots for 32.3 percent from the field.
GAMES TO WATCH:
Schreiner vs LeTourneau Friday at 3 p.m. in Marshall, Texas
Texas Lutheran at East Texas Baptist at 7 p.m. Friday in Marshall, Texas
Sul Ross State at No. 4 Whitman at 10 p.m. Friday in Walla Walla, Wash.
Howard Payne at Southwestern (Tex.) at 4 p.m. Saturday in Georgetown, Texas
Concordia Texas at No. 4 Whitman at 8 p.m. Saturday in Walla Walla, Wash.
Cory Hogue is Dave Campbell's Texas Basketball small college correspondent follow him on Twitter at @HoagieSports and be sure to visit his website (linked below) for more coverage of Division II and Division III collegiate athletics.