It’s not literally a “must-win” game, but it sure is close to being one.
The Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball team hosts Abilene Christian Wednesday night with both teams battling for the Lone Star Conference’s final playoff seed. A&M-Commerce (4-6 in LSC play, 11-9 overall) occupies that position in the standings, but the Wildcats (4-8, 10-10) are a whisker behind, with an identical win total.
Standings aside, the Lions could just use a victory. A&M-Commerce enters tonight’s game coming off of consecutive losses in a home-and-home series with Tarleton State.
The Lions, however, still have the league's second best scoring offense with 74.2 points per game, led by Preston Whitley (14.5 ppg) and Stefon Carson (10.8 ppg).
Andrew Davis leads A&M-Commerce on the boards with 7.2 rebounds per game and in shooting with a .576 field-goal percentage.
A&M-Commerce will have seven conference games left after tonight’s contest. Abilene Christian will have five remaining. It’s the last time the two teams will play during the regular season.
The Lions and Wildcats have four common opponents – A&M-Kingsville, Cameron, Incarnate Word and Midwestern State - in their remaining games.
A&M-Commerce will also face Angelo State (2-10, 5-15), West Texas A&M (6-6, 14-6) and Eastern New Mexico (6-6, 9-11). Abilene Christian’s schedule includes a game against Tarleton State (5-5, 12-6).
Scouting the Wildcats
Last Three Games: L at Eastern New Mexico (65-64), L vs. West Texas A&M (78-69), W vs. Angelo State (82-63)
Head Coach: Joe Golding (Abilene Christian, 1999). Second season at ACU (22-26, .458)
• #5 Eric Lawton (Sr., G): 338 pts. (16.9 ppg), 45.4 FG%, 47.0 3FG%, 64.4 FT%, 78 reb., 91 ast., 18 stl.
• #33 Steven Werner (Sr., C): 248 pts. (12.4 ppg), 51.8 FG%, 60.0 FT%, 128 reb., 54 blk.
• #11 Elliott Lloyd (Sr., G): 234 pts. (11.7 ppg), 40.9 FG%, 36.5 3FG%, 72.7 FT%, 49 reb., 50 ast., 30 stl.
• #3 Parker Wentz (Fr., G): 174 pts. (8.7 ppg), 42.0 FG%, 39.8 3FG%, 80.8 FT%, 42 reb., 32 ast., 23 stl.
• #13 Dosh Simms (Sr., F): 127 pts. (7.9 ppg), 56.3 FG%, 54.7 FT%, 124 reb., 4 blk., 18 stl.
Synopsis: Abilene Christian enters the week with a 4-8 mark in the Lone Star Conference, currently sitting one game behind A&M-Commerce in ninth-place in the conference standings. The Wildcats have won five of their last eight games but are coming off a pair of LSC losses to West Texas A&M (78-69) and at Eastern New Mexico (65-64) last week. ACU ranks third in scoring offense (72.8), right behind the second-place Lions, and is the LSC's top three-point shooting team, hitting 40.7 percent of its shots while converting 47.5 percent of its total field goal attempts (2nd). The Wildcats have struggled on the road this season, posting a 2-4 mark away from Abilene.
Series Information: A&M-Commerce and Abilene Christian meet for the 97th and possibly final time Wednesday evening. The Lions hold a 57-39 edge in the all-time series between the two longtime rivals. A&M-Commerce comes into the game with a two-game winning streak over Abilene Christian, including a 90-88 victory at Moody Coliseum back in December. The Lions have won nine of the past 13 games against the Wildcats. Head coach Sam Walker has posted a 13-7 all-time record against Abilene Christian, including a 7-2 mark against the Wildcats at the Field House.