CONWAY, AR — For the second straight year, the Sugar Bears are going dancing.
And this year, their dance hall is in Texas.
Heading back to the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship tournament after earning the Southland Conference's automatic qualifier for the second consecutive season with a 60-35 win over Stephen F. Austin in Sunday's Southland tournament championship game in Katy, Texas, the Sugar Bears are going back to Texas – this time to Austin, where they will be a 14 seed, meeting up with the 3rd-seeded Longhorns, who are 23-8 overall and finished 2nd in the Big XII with a 15-3 conference record.
The Sugar Bears and Longhorns meet for the first time, with tipoff set for 1:30pm on Friday following the matchup between 6th-seeded North Carolina State and 11th-seeded Auburn.
The Southland champion Sugar Bears enter the tournament with a 26-4 record, riding a 17-game winning streak – the 4th-longest active streak in the nation. Over the last two seasons, the Sugar Bears are 28-5 (.848) in road and neutral-site games, losing only at Louisville, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and at Abilene Christian, which won the 2016 Southland regular season title outright and shared the 2017 title with the Sugar Bears.
Last season, making their debut in the Division I championship tournament as a 14 seed, the Sugar Bears faced 8th-ranked Louisville, a No. 3 seed, and led after the first quarter before eventually falling to the Cardinals 87-60.
Central Arkansas enters the tournament among the national leaders in scoring defense, scoring margin, field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense. The Sugar Bears are 4th in Division I in scoring defense, allowing just 52.2 points per game. They rank 12th in scoring margin at +16.8; 6th in field goal percentage at 47.4 percent and 11th in field goal percentage defense, allowing their opponents to shoot just 34.7 percent this year.
It is the second appearance in the Division I championship tournament for Central Arkansas in just its seventh year of postseason eligibility in D-I after completing its four-year reclassification period from Division II in 2010. The Sugar Bears made four appearances in the Division II tournament between 1993-2005, advancing to two Elite Eights including a national semifinal appearance in 2005.
It is their fourth postseason appearance in Division I, having also appeared in the 2012 WNIT where they lost to eventual champion Oklahoma State; and the 2011 WBI where they lost to eventual champion UAB.
The state high school baseball tournament gets underway later this…
Reception and induction set for June 2.