Islanders Take to Road Against No. 18 MemphisTEXAS A&M-CORPUS CHRISTI (4-6) at No. 18 MEMPHIS (8-1)
Monday, Dec. 20 • 7 p.m. CT
FedEx Forum (18,119) • Memphis, Tenn.
RADIO: 1230 AM, 103.3 and 96.1 FM (Steven King)
TV: SportsSouth (DTV 649, Dish 420)
THE OPENING TIP
Coming off a resounding 81-78 overtime win over Houston on Saturday, the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team faces yet another major test as it will take on No. 18 Memphis on Monday, Dec. 20, at FedEx Forum. The Islanders enter the game 4-6 overall, while the Tigers are 8-1, with their only loss this season to No. 3 Kansas. This will mark the first meeting between the two programs, and is the second ranked opponent for the Islanders (Kansas on Nov. 23) on the year.
Four players finished in double figures for the Islanders in the win over the Cougars, the first in five tries for Texas A&M - Corpus Christi against Houston. Demond Watt led the way with 17 points, while Justin Reynolds scored 14 and passed the 1,000-point plateau in his career. Watt and Reynolds scored the first four points in overtime to set the Islanders in motion for the impressive home victory.
- Senior Demond Watt has had four games with 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds this season. His 15 career double-doubles are third in school history.
- Senior Justin Reynolds became the seventh player in Islanders history to top 1,000 career points with an OT layup against Houston. He now has 1,003 points in his Texas A&M - Corpus Christi tenure.
- Watt currently leads the Southland Conference in rebounding (10.1) and is fourth in scoring (16.6), field goal percentage (61.0) and blocks (1.4).
- Reynolds has scored in double figures in four of the last five games, including 14 points and eight boards against Houston. Over the last five, the senior has averaged 12.2 points and 8.8 boards.
- The Islanders have played the 12th-toughest schedule in the country according to college basketball stats guru Ken Pomeroy (kenpom.com). Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has played six teams that made the 2010 NCAA Tournament in out-of-conference play.
- The Islanders placed four players in double figures against Houston, the first time that has occurred since the season opener against Northeastern State. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is 3-1 this year when having at least three players with 10-plus points.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
Ranked 18th in the Associated Press poll and 19th by the coaches, Memphis sits at 8-1 on the season with its only loss to No. 3 Kansas at the Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Garden. Four of the Tigers' wins have been within 10 points, with a pair of overtime contests (wins over Arkansas State and Austin Peay). The Tigers have already faced one Southland Conference foe, knocking off Northwestern State 94-79 on Nov. 17.
The Tigers' leading scorer, Wesley Witherspoon, is currently out with a knee injury. But Will Barton (12.0) and Joe Jackson (10.2) are also averaging in double figures, while Chris Crawford has added 9.9 per outing. The Tigers have shot 45.1 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from beyond the arc. Defensively, they are surrendering 67.7 points per game with their up-tempo style, and have recorded 103 steals and 53 blocks this year.
It took extra time, but senior Justin Reynolds entered an elite club for the Islanders on Saturday. The native of Pearland, Texas, topped the 1,000-point barrier with his layup in the opening minute of OT to become the seventh player in school history with 1,000-plus points. Chris Daniels is the school record holder, with 1,407 points from 2004-08.
Reynolds has heated up recently after a slow start, posting four games in double figures in the last five, and five games with 10-plus points in his last seven. He is averaging 12.2 points and 8.8 rebounds the last five games. Against Bethune-Cookman, he notched his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 boards.
Senior Demond Watt was one of the top power forwards in the Southland Conference last year, but so far this season he has put up some eye-popping numbers, even for him.
His performance against Houston may not have been his most significant statistically, but it certainly had the biggest impact. Watt filled the stat sheet with 17 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and 41 minutes - all game highs for both teams - and added three assists and two steals. Much of his good work came in crunch time, as he opened the OT period with a steal-and-layup and followed with a pivotal block in the closing minute of the extra session.
Watt scored 20 points and grabbed 10 boards against St. Edward's, his fourth such game in eight contests this season. In fact, he had put up a 20-10 outing every other game before that was snapped vs. the Cougars. In his career, he has 15 double-doubles to his credit, third in school history.
Watt was named to the iBN Las Vegas Invitational All-Tournament Team for his efforts in the City of Lights. He posted his third double-double of the season against Bethune-Cookman, and, in fact, had done so before halftime. The Chicago native finished with 23 points and 15 boards, each the second-highest mark of the year for the big man.
On Nov. 21 against Ohio, Watt posted one of the top performances in the Southland this year, pouring in a career-high 26 points to go along with 12 rebounds and a career-high tying five assists. Against Texas A&M on Nov. 15, Watt showed up in a big way, with 21 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. It marked the most rebounds by an Islander player since Corey Lamkin had 18 at Air Force on Jan. 21, 2004.
Teammate Demond Watt is also on pace to top the 1,000-point plateau this season, with 972 in his time on the team. Watt is also second in school history in blocks with 111 in his tenure. He is third in Islanders lore with his 677 rebounds over three-plus seasons, and needs just four more to tie Daniels for second in Islanders lore.