By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (December 6, 2014) — No. 7 Tarleton State knows all too well the importance of in-region games. Scheduling them, and of course, winning them.
It’s why head coach Lonn Reisman and company are welcoming St. Mary’s into Wisdom Gym at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Rattlers (3-3), who were ranked No. 5 in the final South Central Region poll last season, are off to a pedestrian .500 start overall, but are just six days removed from a 63-50 win over Midwestern State.
The Texans (6-0) are looking to remain unbeaten and pick up a fourth in-region victory. Every game on St. Mary’s schedule is against opponents in the South Central Region or that fit the NCAA committee’s criteria to be counted as a regional game.
The Heartland Conference member Rattlers are already 2-1 against teams from the Lone Star Conference. Midwestern was shorthanded when it played in San Antonio last Sunday, and the Rattlers have split five-point contests against a Texas A&M-Kingsville team that is more athletic and – many believe – much improved from recent seasons.
St. Mary’s is led by Marvin Whitt with 14 points per game. Kriston Minor has started just one game, but is second on the team at 9.3 points. Marvin Binney averages 8.8 and Isaiah Matthews 7.7.
Tarleton, which is outscoring opponents by 21.7 points per game, has six players averaging more than eight points. Mohammad Lee leads the team in scoring (12.5), rebounds (6.0), assists (3.3) and steals (1.6). Michael Hardge and TaShawn Mabry each score 10.7 points, Davene Carter scores 9.8, Malcolm Hamilton 9.3 and EJ Reed 8.5.
St. Mary’s is 0-9 all time in Stephenville. Tarleton holds a 10-4 advantage in the series, which dates back only to 1999. They’re last meeting was in the quarterfinals of the 2008 South Central Regional tourney in Stephenville, with the Texans wining 70-64.
Tarleton plays just once more at home before Christmas, as the Texans host Paul Quinn College at 7 p.m. on December 15. They travel to Las Vegas for the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic Dec. 18-19, facing Western Washington then No. 14 Drury (Mo.).