Familiarity seems to be the name of the game when ACU and SFA face each other on the hardwood.
First, ACU head coach Brette Tanner was an assistant at SFA from 2006-2013. In that time, Tanner helped lead the Jacks to three Southland Conference regular season titles. In his final six seasons at SFA, the Lumberjacks had the best winning percentage of all 21 NCAA Division I programs in Texas at .738. Along with that stat, the Jacks led the nation in scoring defense in 2010-11 and 2011-12. SFA also made an NIT appearance in 2012-13.
If that wasn’t enough, one of Tanner’s current assistants, Antonio Bostic, is an SFA alum. Bostic played under Tanner at SFA where he was an All-Southland Conference selection his junior and senior years. Bostic ranks eight in SFA program history in steals with 184.
Considering the Jacks and Wildcats have met 38 times, there is quite a bit of familiarity between the programs.
The two teams have split the last six meetings. SFA is currently 3-0 in the regular season as members of the WAC. However, ACU made it know it is extremely difficult to beat a team three times in a season. The Wildcats never took their foot off the gas in a 76-62 win in the WAC quarterfinals in 2022-23.
Familiarity breeds some high-quality basketball. In the case of SFA and ACU, that has been the truth recently. Only two of the last seven games in the series have been decided by double digits. Two of the last seven have come down to the final possession.
In the lone meeting in 2022-23, in the WAC opener for both teams, SFA jumped out to a big lead at halftime. However, ACU responded in kind to battle back before ultimately falling late.
“What they’ve done in basketball in a short period of time is fantastic,” SFA head coach Kyle Keller said. “We know how hard they’re gonna play. Coach Tanner does a great job with their program. They may be the oldest team in our league … it will be a hard fought game. There’s been a lot of’em with them through the years. Very similar styles. Lot of pressure. Both teams are very familiar with each other.”
In terms of ACU being the oldest team in the league, Kyle Keller may have a point.
Damien Daniels and Tobias Cameron are each in their fifth season at ACU. Joe Pleasant is in his fifth season in college basketball. Airion Simmons is in his fourth season at ACU. All four of these players have played over 100 games in an ACU jersey. Damien Daniels has played in 155 games at ACU.
Will that experience pay off in a game of familiarity with one another?
ACU currently sits at 13-13 overall and 7-8 in WAC play. The Wildcats are coming off a 94-84 loss at Grand Canyon on Friday. ACU sits at nine in the WAC resume seeding system and it’s highly likely the Wildcats will be playing in the first round at WAC Vegas.
SFA is 17-10 overall and 9-5 in WAC play. The Jacks are coming off a home loss to UT Arlington on Saturday. SFA is still in the running, just barely, for a top-4 seed at WAC Vegas. The Jacks have to win out and pray for some help around the league.
WAC Wednesday features a game with a lot of familiarity. It also features two teams who can get after it defensively. Wednesday night at Moody Coliseum may come down to free throw shooting.
Or, perhaps as it has in recent memory, come down to the final possession.
Familiarity breeds competition.
Tip is set for 7 p.m. CT on ESPN+.