The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men’s basketball team will make a conference-record 17th appearance in the American Southwest Conference Championship Tournament when the 2017 event tips off Thursday in Longview. The Cru will take on U.T. Dallas at noon in the opening game of the tournament with both of those teams making their 14th consecutive appearance in the event.
UMHB is 16-9 overall and went 9-7 in ASC play to claim the #3 seed from the West Division. U.T. Dallas went 11-4 overall and finished 8-8 in ASC play, clinching the East Division’s #2 seed with a win over U.T. Tyler on the final day of the regular season. The Comets have won eight of their last nine games to enter the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the league. UMHB knocked off U.T. Dallas 83-71 in the regular season meeting in Richardson back on January 16th. Daniel Mills and Aubrie King led the Cru with 21 points apiece and Demarius Cress and Keenan Holdman also reached double figures. UMHB shot 57 percent as a team in the second half and finished at 48 percent for the game. The UMHB-UTD winner advances to a 5:00 PM Semifinal on Friday to take on the winner of the Hardin-Simmons/East Texas Baptist First Round Game. The other side of the bracket has Concordia Texas taking on U.T. Tyler and tournament host LeTourneau University facing Sul Ross State.
The ASC Championship Game will be played at 6:00 PM on Saturday with the tournament champion receiving the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III National Championships. Hardin-Simmons is the defending conference champion. UMHB has a pair of conference titles, winning the ASC in 2008 and 2010.
Cress leads UMHB in scoring and ranks second in the ASC at 20.5 points per game. Mills is averaging 17.4 points per contest and shoots 53 percent from the field on the year. Braden Hammond is scoring 13.8 points per game and has a team-high 81 assists. King is scoring at a 13.5 points per game clip and has already set a new UMHB single-season record with 84 three-pointers on the season. Austen Stolte leads UMHB in rebounding ay 7.7 boards per contest and his 55 blocked shots have him within five blocks of Ryan Burgart’s single-season school record. The Cru is 14-14 all-time in the ASC Tournament and is 2-1 against UTD in the event. The Comets are 14-11 all-time in the ASC Tournament.