HSU Cowboys set for the ASC Tournament

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ASC Championship Tournament
Quarterfinals: Thursday, February 27
Game 1: #3E East Texas Baptist (19-6) vs. #2W Concordia Texas (12-13), Noon
Game 2: #4W Hardin-Simmons (11-14) vs. #1E UT Dallas (20-5), 2:30 p.m.
Game 3: #3W Mary Hardin-Baylor (15-10) vs. #2E LeTourneau (20-5), 5 p.m.
Game 4: #4E Louisiana College (13-12) vs. #1 Sul Ross State (16-9), 7:30 p.m.
SEMIFINALS: Friday, February 28
Game 5: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 5 p.m.
Game 6: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, 7:30 p.m.
CHAMPIONSHIP: Saturday, February 29
Game 7: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner, 6 p.m.

About The Cowboys’ Season
HSU has had a topsy-turvy season. The Cowboys come into the tournament with a record of 11-14 overall and HSU finished in a three-way tie for second place in the ASC West but lost the tiebreakers to come into the tournament as the No. 4 seed. The Cowboys started the season off well going 4-2 in the first month. The two losses were in overtime to 2019 NCAA Tournament teams Texas Lutheran and Nebraska Wesleyan. Then came a rough stretch for HSU with seven straight losses, including four games that were either one possession or lost in overtime. The stretch continued to nine losses in 11 games and at that point the Cowboys looked to be staying home for the postseason. The calendar turned to February and the Cowboys rolled off four straight wins to put them in position to make the ASC Tournament. HSU is 11-14, but the Cowboys have had a second-half lead in 12 of the 14 losses.

HSU At The ASC Tournament
The Cowboys are making their 12th trip to the American Southwest Conference Tournament and have the best all-time winning percentage in the tournament with a 19-9 all-time mark. HSU and UT-Dallas are tied for the most wins (19) all-time in the tournament. The Cowboys have never made an appearance where they did not win at least one game. HSU won the tournament in 2016 and 2017 and has finished as the runner-up four times, including last year.
Versus The Field
HSU is just 2-10 against the teams in the field but it is a little bit deceiving. The Cowboys were in every one of the games in the second half except for at Concordia. Every other game, the Cowboys had the lead in the second half and couldn’t close it out. The difference between all eight teams is negligible and it should make for a fun three days in Alpine.

Opponent 2019-20 All-Time ASC Tourney
UT-Dallas 0-1 17-14 2-2
LeTourneau 0-1 26-7 3-0
East Texas Baptist 0-2 21-7 2-0
Louisiana College 1-1
17-9 3-0
Sul Ross State 0-2 50-24 1-0
Concordia 0-2 19-27 0-1
Mary Hardin-Baylor 1-1 18-40 2-2

Plenty of Options
HSU has many different weapons at its disposal with eight players averaging 5.8 or more points per game. Six players have a 20-point game this season and 11 of the 13 players on the roster have at least 12 points in a game this year.

Senior Trio
The Cowboys have three seniors on its roster in Chris Barrett, Keenan Holdman and Chris Henderson. This is the third season for all three of them at HSU. Barrett transferred in from East Texas Baptist and started every game the past three seasons. Holdman transferred in from Mary Hardin-Baylor and has 52 career starts. Henderson was a freshman on the Sweet 16 team in 2017, but did not play as a sophomore. He has played the last two seasons and is graduating in May.

The Future Is Bright
Part of the Cowboys’ inconsistency late in games has been the fact that nine of the top 11 scorers on the team are in their first or second season with HSU. Closing out games comes with experience, especially in the ASC where all the top teams are loaded with upperclassmen. Finding the person that will take and make those big shots when you need a bucket is all part of the process.

Head Coach Matt Brackett
Brackett, a former HSU player, is in his third season as the Cowboys’ head coach. He faced a rebuilding effort after replacing former head coach Craig Carse, who retired after back-to-back ASC titles and a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16. The Cowboys returned only three players from 2017 team for his first year in 2018. The Cowboys probably overachieved to go 9-16. They went into the final day of the season battling for a tournament berth, but a buzzer-beater by Howard Payne kept the Cowboys from defending its title. With a full recruiting class in tow that included Steven Quinn (the ASC Freshman of the Year), Neal Chambliss, Trey Wooldridge among others to complement senior starters Joe Hoeup and Jalen Terry, HSU went to the ASC Championship game a year ago and went 17-11 overall. HSU added another talented recruiting class with four freshmen, along with two transfers Kyle Brennon and Chase Cobb the Cowboys have restocked the roster with talent. Brackett played at HSU from 2004 to 2007 and spent 10 seasons in the high school ranks. His record at HSU is 37-41.

True Point Guard
Senior Chris Barrett is a true old-fashioned point guard for the Cowboys. He now ranks second in the non-scholarship era in career assists with 347. He is a great distributor and takes care of the ball. He leads the conference in assist to turnover ratio. He ranks fourth in the conference in assists, is second in steals, is 10th in free throw percentage and is 13th in rebounding, despite being 5-10. He does not look to score first, but is capable, averaging 9.0 points per game, he shoots 41.3 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from 3-point range and 80.8 percent at the free-throw line.

Scoring Duo
The Cowboys top two scorers are sophomores Kyle Brennon and Steven Quinn. They have combined for nine 20-point games this season, five by Brennon and four by Quinn. They have combined for 28 double-digit scoring games. Ironically, they only have seven games this season where they have both scored in double figures.

Twin Towers
HSU has relied heavily on its two post players – sophomores Neal Chambliss and Trey Wooldridge. Chambliss has averaged 9.3 points and 6.5 rebounds and shot 55.8 percent from the field. He ranks 10th in the league in rebounding and eighth in field goal percentage. Wooldridge has blossomed down the stretch and has scored in double figures in seven of the last 10 games and is averaging 10.5 points and 6.8 rebounds during the stretch. For the year he is averaging 8.4 points and 6.1 rebounds and has 40 blocked shots which leads the league. He also is third in the conference in shooting at 60.2 percent per game.

Making The Most Of It
Junior transfer Chase Cobb has been solid for the Cowboys most of the year when he was playing a reserve role off the bench for most of the season. He had played in every game this season, but he started getting more time and made some much-needed shots that he parlayed into an even more expanded role. For the year, he is shooting 50.5 percent from the field and a team-best 43.3 percent from 3-point range. Since he joined the starting lineup seven games ago, the Cowboys are 5-2 and he is shooting 30-of-53 from the field and 13-of-30 from 3-point range and has hit three or more 3-pointers in four of the seven games. He is averaging 11.4 points per game in those seven games. Prior to this run, he was averaging, 3.7 points per game.

Freshman Guard Trio
The Cowboys have three very talented freshmen guards that have all had flashes of significant potential throughout the season and all three bring different elements to the game. Aidan Walsh is the point guard of the future and he is very hard-nosed and tough. He can break down defenses and is shooting 35.3 percent from 3-point range. Layton Sharp is a deep-threat shooter as 86 of his 100 shots this year are 3-pointers. He has deep range and makes defenses come out and guard him. He has five games on the year when he has made three or more 3-pointers. Anthony Hunter is a mixture of both. He is athletic and attacks the basket with authority. He has shot 32 free throws in just 135 minutes of action this year (and he makes them at an 81.3 percent clip). He is also 7-of-15 from 3-point range. They have played behind seniors Chris Barrett and Keenan Holdman but will be ready for bigger roles next season.

Rebounding and Defense
HSU has been a solid defensive team on the year and ranks third in the conference allowing just 76.5 points per game. HSU allows opponents to shoot just 43.3 percent which is the fourth-best defensive field goal percentage. In conference play, the Cowboys were second in the league with 13.4 offensive rebounds per game.

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