ABILENE, Texas - PRESS RELEASE – ACU head men’s basketball coach Joe Golding and his staff have put together a challenging schedule for the upcoming 2017-18 season, which is one of the most highly anticipated campaigns in program history.
After back-to-back 13-win seasons, the Wildcats appear poised to make a run at a top-four spot in the Southland Conference and a bid in both the conference and NCAA post-season tournaments.
The Wildcats were 13-18 overall last year and 7-11 in the Southland Conference, but return guard Jaylen Franklin and post Jalone Friday, who have each been the league’s Freshman of the Year award in each of the last two seasons, respectively. Other returners are seniors Drake Green and Isaiah Tripp, juniors Jaren Lewis, Hayden Howell and Hayden Farquhar, and sophomores Payten Ricks, BJ. Maxwell and Trey Lenox.
Newcomers will be redshirt freshman Kolton Kohl, incoming freshman Tobias Cameron and graduate transfer Tevin Foster. Paul Hiepler and Chase Cobb will walk on to the club in 2017-18. The Wildcats should be favored to finish in the top half of the Southland Conference this season after two building seasons.
That roster will face a group of NCAA Division I non-conference foes that combined to post a 141-127 record. Three of the teams on the schedule – Texas State, Arkansas State and Lipscomb – each won 20 games in 2016-17, while another won 19 games, another won 18 and another won 17.
“This schedule was hard to put together and (associated head coach) Brette Tanner did a great job of putting it together,” ACU head coach Joe Golding said. “We will be tested at home, on the road, and neutral sites. More importantly, it will get us ready for anything we will see in the Southland Conference.”
The highlights of the non-conference schedule include a contest against Texas Tech in Lubbock on Dec. 22. The Wildcats and Red Raiders have played each other 33 times in the past (with Tech holding a 20-13 lead in the series), but haven’t met on the hardwood since a 93-59 Tech win in the 1957-58 season-opener.
The Red Raiders are coached by former ACU graduate assistant Chris Beard, who was the head coach at McMurry, Angelo State, and Arkansas-Little Rock before taking over the Red Raiders in 2016-17. Last year in his first season in Lubbock he led the Red Raiders to an 18-14 record.
ACU has lined up two terrific home games against Texas State (22-14 in 2016-17) and Lipscomb (20-13 last season) to test his maturing team. The Bisons will be in Abilene on Nov. 20 in the resumption of a series that ACU leads 5-2. However, ACU hasn’t played its sister Church of Christ school since an 84-74 win in 1959-60.
And in a strange twist, ACU will return the Lipscomb visit in the same season as the Wildcats will be in Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 17, for an early afternoon contest the day after Lipscomb graduation.
The Wildcats will be on the road at Arkansas State (Nov. 13), the Air Force Academy (Dec. 6), and will also play in the Campbell University Tournament (Nov. 24-26) against Campbell, South Carolina-Upstate and Bowling Green.
“Anytime you can take your team to a service academy you jump on it,” Golding said. “We are very fortunate to have (associate director of athletics for internal operations) Drew Long on our administrative staff and he was able to help us secure that game (Long was a former assistant at the Air Force Academy). I look forward to showing our players the sacrifices these young men make daily and will do in the future to protect the freedoms we enjoy.
“We are very thankful to Coach Beard and Texas Tech for putting us on the schedule this year,” Golding said. “Hopefully this is something we can continue to do in the future with the close proximity of the universities. They return some very good players and have added a lot of new pieces to a team I know will be much improved in the big 12. I know it will be fun for our alumni to go back and watch us play them. And I’ll enjoy it from a personal standpoint because of our relationship and the face that he coached me here at ACU.
“We have been trying to secure home games with universities that will help us draw big crowds into Moody Coliseum early in the season,” Golding said. “I think we have done that with Lipscomb and Texas State. Both of these teams had very successful seasons last year, are very well coached and return a bunch of good players. I'm excited to bring a high level of Division I basketball to the city of Abilene in the months of November and December.”
Within the conference, the Wildcats will once again open Southland Conference play on the road (Dec. 28 at New Orleans) before returning to Abilene two days later for a big early season matchup against Sam Houston State. The Wildcats swept the Bearkats last season, and this game should be an early barometer for both teams.
ACU will play Stephen F. Austin twice (Jan. 17 in Abilene and Feb. 28 in Nacogdoches), while also playing Sam Houston State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Central Arkansas, Incarnate Word and Southeastern Louisiana twice. The Wildcats will play one game against defending league champion New Orleans, McNeese, Houston Baptist, Northwestern State, Lamar, and Nicholls.
2017-18 ACU MEN’S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Date Opponent Site Time
Fri., Nov. 10 vs. Randall Abilene, Texas 7:30 p.m.
Mon., Nov. 13 at Arkansas State Jonesboro, Ark. 7 p.m.
Thurs., Nov. 16 vs. Howard Payne Abilene, Texas 7 p.m.
Mon., Nov. 20 vs. Lipscomb Abilene, Texas 7 p.m.
Nov. 24-26 at Campbell Tournament Buies Creek, N.C.
Nov. 24 – at Campbell, 2 p.m. (1 p.m. CST)
Nov. 25 – vs. USC-Upstate, 5 p.m. (4 p.m. CST)
Nov. 26 – vs. Bowling Green, 1 p.m. (12 p.m. CST)
Sat., Dec. 2 vs. Schreiner Abilene, Texas 4 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 6 at U.S. Air Force Academy Colorado Springs, Colo. 7 p.m. (MST)
Sat., Dec. 9 vs. Texas State Abilene, Texas 4 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 17 at Lipscomb Nashville, Tenn. 1 p.m. (EST)
Tues., Dec. 19 vs. Arlington Baptist Abilene, Texas 7 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 22 at Texas Tech Lubbock, Texas
Thurs., Dec. 28 * at New Orleans New Orleans, La.
Sat., Dec. 30 * vs. Sam Houston State Abilene, Texas 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 3 * vs. McNeese State Abilene, Texas 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 6 * vs. Southeastern Louisiana Abilene, Texas 4 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 10 * at Houston Baptist Houston, Texas 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 13 * at Northwestern State Natchitoches, La. 3 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 17 * vs. Stephen F. Austin Abilene, Texas 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 20 * at Central Arkansas Conway, Ark. 3 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 24 * at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Corpus Christi, Texas
Wed., Jan. 31 * vs. Lamar Abilene, Texas 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 3 * at Sam Houston State Huntsville, Texas
Wed., Feb. 7 * vs. Nicholls Abilene, Texas 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 10 * vs. Incarnate Word Abilene, Texas 4 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 17 * at Southeastern Louisiana Hammond, La.
Wed., Feb. 21 * vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Abilene, Texas 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 24 * vs. Central Arkansas Abilene, Texas 4 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 28 * at Stephen F. Austin Nacogdoches, Texas 7 p.m.
Sat., March 3 * at Incarnate Word San Antonio, Texas 3 p.m.
March 7-11 Southland Tournament Katy, Texas
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