Rogers State’s streaking Hillcats return home tonight, to begin their final homestand of their first intercollegiate basketball season.
The Hillcats, winners of five in a row, take on USAO at 8 p.m., some 20 minutes after the conclusion of the women’s game (6 p.m.).
RSU’s men are tied for fourth in the Sooner Athletic Conference and have a 14-7 record overall.
Fresh from a two-game sweep in Texas, defeating Lubbock Christian and Wayland Baptist last weekend, the Hillcats are back at home in the Claremore Expo where they have a 7-3 record against all comers.
“We lost those three games at home when we led all three in the last five minutes,” RSU coach Wren Baker said. “If you get the lead at home, you kind of expect to win.”
Since that time, the Hillcats have stepped it up, beating two Top 25 teams (Oklahoma Baptist and Wayland Baptist) while climbing in the conference race.
“We’re coming together as a team,” Baker said. “We go into games now a little more confident. There for a while, I just didn’t know. We were still green and not making those plays.”
But they are making their shots. As a team, the Hillcats are shooting 45.5 percent from the field.
Three players are averaging in double figures, headed by Bryson Krueger at 12.5. Roderick Rodgers has an 11.3 mark and Eric Young is at 11.1.
Krueger led the Hillcats in scoring on the Texas trip, scoring 24 against Wayland. “And those 24 weren’t easy,” Baker said. “They had their best defender on him for a lot of those points.”
Abe Donlon is leading the RSU rebounding, averaging 6.8 per game. “Abe has really stepped up his play,” Baker said.
Statistically, the Hillcats are averaging 74.2 points, holding their opponents to 65.6.
“It’s amazing that when you pick up your energy on defense how it helps you on the offensive end,” Baker said.
“I never cease to be amazed that players don’t always understand that.”
While the Hillcats have been putting together their second five-game streak of the season, USAO saw its five-game string cut on Monday night.
The Drovers, who had beaten Oklahoma City Saturday on Tim Nelson’s four free throws in the final 14 seconds, fell at Southern Nazarene on Monday.
That win pushed Southern Nazarene into a first-place tie with Oklahoma City in the SAC.