During its 6-0 start to the season, Sam Houston State's defense led the way.
But Bearkats coach Jason Hooten wants to see a better defensive effort Tuesday when his team takes on Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., as the Bearkats begin a stretch of three consecutive and six of seven away from home.
Sam Houston State was holding opponents to just 32.9 percent shooting from the field, including 24.7 percent from behind the 3-point line, and forcing more than 20 turnovers during a start that featured wins over Oklahoma and Utah.
Over their last two, the Bearkats' defense has slipped a bit, as Nevada and Dallas Christian shot 42.9 percent from the floor and hit a combined 19 3-pointers.
In the loss to Nevada, the Bearkats forced 10 turnovers. Sam Houston State's opponents have at least 15 in every other game.
Hooten is also hoping for more from his reserves, including more consistent play from Damon Nicholas Jr., who is averaging 5.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game.
"Our bench has been a strong point for us this season but we have to get better," Hooten said. "We have guys that are on the bench that are playing right now that need to improve. We need some more quality minutes from them instead of just minutes."
Sam Houston State is 7-1 and looking to beat a second Big 12 team this season after its season-opening win over Oklahoma gave the Bearkats their first victory over a Power 5 opponent since 2009.
The Cowboys (5-3) are coming off a 74-64 loss at No. 8 UConn on Thursday and looking to avoid dropping back-to-back games for the first time this season.
One of the bright spots in that game was the performance of Kalib Boone at power forward after plating center during his first three seasons with the Cowboys.
Boone is averaging 10.3 points, scoring 15 in the loss to the Huskies for his fourth double-digit scoring game of the season. Last year he averaged 5.8 points and scored 10 or more points just six times all season.
Boone said he can be more aggressive at power forward.
"That's one of the benefits I love about playing the four spot," Boone said. "I don't have to guard or deal with somebody like 240 or 245 (pounds) guarding me. It's easier for me to get to my spots more."
--Field Level Media