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2019 NCAA tournament preview: Abilene Christian

Abilene Christian Wildcats: 27-6, 14-4 in the Southland Conference

Head Coach: Joe Golding (7th season)

Key Players: Jaren Lewis (13.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG); Jalone Friday (13.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG); Jaylen Franklin (10.2 PPG, 4.9 APG)

Season Recap: Making their first ever NCAA tournament appearance, the second-seeded Wildcats were able to run to a conference championship after top-seeded Sam Houston State was upset earlier in the tournament. The only major conference opponent they faced was then-No. 11 Texas Tech, which they lost by 34. Head coach Joe Golding and his squad picked up an impressive win against Campbell and fighting camel star guard Chris Clemons toward the middle of the season. Like many other small schools in the tournament, Abilene Christian is made up of smaller but experienced players.

Where the Wildcats make their money is beyond the arc, where five of their top six scorers are shooting at least 37 percent on 3-pointers. That includes big man Jalone Friday, shooting 37.7 percent, who can space the floor and open up driving lanes for his teammates. A big place where Abilene Christian can be exposed is protecting the rim, as it only ranks 239th in the country in blocked shots.

How they make a run: The Wildcats catch fire from deep and put on some late game pressure, where their veteran guards can operate.

How they falter: With no major rotation player bigger than 6-foot-9, they get bullied inside and on the boards by larger power conference teams.


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