Sunday, Jan. 2 • 2 p.m. CT
United Spirit Arena (15,000) • Lubbock, Texas
RADIO: 1230 AM, 103.3 and 96.1 FM (Steven King)
TV: ESPN Full Court and ESPN3.com
THE OPENING TIP
Coming off a 1-1 performance at the Dr. Pepper Classic, the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team heads to the western part of its home state for a matchup against Texas Tech on Sunday, Jan. 2. The Islanders will ring in the new year against their fourth Big 12 foe of the season, bringing in an 0-3 record against the conference. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is 5-8 on the year, while Texas Tech sits at 6-7.
The Red Raiders are 6-2 at home, while the Islanders are 0-5 on the road, but are playing a road contest in their home state for the first time this year. The two teams have played three times in the history of the two programs, with TTU taking two of the three games. The Islanders won in Lubbock, 86-80, in 2000, while the Red Raiders won games in Texas A&M - Corpus Christi's inaugural season and last year in the Duel in the Desert. Demond Watt had 19 points and eight boards in the loss, while Kevin Palmer scored 18 for the Islanders.
• The Islanders went 1-1 at the Dr. Pepper Classic, falling to eventual tournament champion Georgia State in the opening round but knocking off Montreat in the consolation game. Justin Reynolds was named to the All-Tournament Team for his efforts.
• Against Montreat, senior Demond Watt became the eighth player in school history to top 1,000 career points, joining the club just three games after Reynolds did. They are just the second pair of Islanders teammates to hit quadruple figures at the same time, joining Corey Lamkin and Travis Bailey, who did so in 2005.
• Head Coach Perry Clark is just one win shy of 300 in his career. The veteran bench boss has a 299-257 career record and was the 1992 National Coach of the Year.
• Watt has had four games with 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds this season. His 16 career double-doubles are third in school history, as he delivered his fifth double-double of the year against Montreat, with 18 points and 12 boards.
• The Islanders have played the fourth-toughest schedule in the country according to college basketball RPI expert Jerry Palm (CollegeRPI.com). Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has played six teams that made the 2010 NCAA Tournament in non-conference play.
• Reynolds has scored in double figures in six of the last eight games, including 13 points and seven boards against Montreat. Over the last eight, the senior has averaged 11.6 points and 8.4 boards.
• The Islanders placed four players in double figures against both Houston and Memphis, arguably the team's top two performances of the year. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is 4-2 this year when having at least three players with 10-plus points, having done so last against Montreat.
SCOUTING THE RED RAIDERS
Texas Tech comes into Sunday's game having hit a bit of a rough patch, going just 1-4 in the last five games after opening the season 6-3. The Red Raiders lost to New Mexico, 61-60, in their last game on Dec. 29 in Lubbock. That followed a 73-56 win over fellow Southland Conference member UT-Arlington on Dec. 22. Tech also knocked off Stephen F. Austin 70-58 on Nov. 19 this year.
Mike Singletary leads five players in double figures with 13.7 points on the year. He also tops the team with 6.1 boards. Brad Reese and John Roberson have been the outside threats for Texas Tech, shooting 41.9 and 34.8 percent, respectively, from beyond the arc. Reese averages 13.1 points to Roberson's 12.4.
This will be the fourth meeting between the Islanders and Texas Tech, as the teams played in the first two years of Texas A&M - Corpus Christi basketball in addition to last year's contest. The Islanders hosted the Red Raiders in their second game as a program, falling 96-83, but rebounded to win in Lubbock, 86-80, on Dec. 18, 2000.
With a layup late in the first half against Montreat, Demond Watt became the eighth player in Islanders history to make it to 1,000 career points. He was the second to make that mark this season, joining fellow senior Justin Reynolds in passing the milestone.
Reynolds entered the elite club for the Islanders against Houston on Dec. 18. 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. The duo joins Travis Bailey and Corey Lamkin (2005) as the only teammates to have surpassed the marker at the same time. Reynolds now has 1,035 career points for the Islanders, while Watt has 1,009.
COUNTDOWN TO 300
The Islanders players aren't the only ones that are approaching milestones, though. Head Coach Perry Clark, in his 19th year as a collegiate head coach, is just two wins shy of breaking the 300-win barrier. The veteran coach is 299-257 in his career to go along with a 49-58 mark in his four years at Texas A&M - Corpus Christi.
Senior Justin Reynolds came into this season as one of the most popular players in program history. But after a slow start to his final campaign in an Islanders uniform, even the most devoted of fans had to question whether he had lost some of his lustre.
But the senior has heated up recently after a slow start, posting six games in double figures in the last eight, and seven games with 10-plus points in his last 10. He is averaging 11.6 points and 8.6 rebounds the last six games. He was named to the Dr. Pepper Classic All-Tournament Team for his efforts on the court. Against Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 26, he had his lone double-double this year with 10 points and 13 boards.
With starter Garland Judkins missing the Memphis game with an ankle injury, the Islanders were looking for someone to step up in his stead. Though he didn't enter the starting lineup for Judkins, freshman Hollis Hill was the key catalyst offensively against the Tigers, scoring a career-high 16 points in a losing effort.
Hill was 5-for-10 from the field, 2-of-4 from beyond the arc and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line in just 21 minutes. He buried a desperation three just before the shot clock expired for a crucial basket to help the Islanders build a first-half lead over the 17th-ranked Tigers.
He had another strong game against Montreat, burying three shots from downtown and finishing with 12 points. It marked the third game in double-figures in Hill's career, as he had 11 points against St. Edward's on Dec. 1. All three of his double-digit scoring efforts this year came in the month of December, when he averaged 7.2 points and shot 46.4 percent from the field.
The Chicago native showed his flair for the dramatic in an exhibition win over Incarnate Word, when he buried a jumper at the buzzer to give the Islanders a one-point victory.
In addition to topping the 1,000 point plateau, Demond Watt also topped the 700 rebound mark. Watt is second in school history both rebounds (701) and blocks (115). He is 141 rebounds and 65 blocks behind the career leaders in those categories.
OFF THE BENCH
Another notable development in the Memphis game was the performance of the bench players for the Islanders. Hollis Hill led the way with his 16 points, but he was hardly the only one to chip in offensively. Chris Mast added five points and Jawan Nelson had four off the bench for Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, as the Islanders had 25 bench points to Memphis' 12.
After an off outing against Georgia State, with 12 bench points, the Islanders got a season-high 37 off the pine against Montreat in what may have been the best game distribution-wise of the year. Nine of the 10 Islanders who saw the floor finished with at least five points and seven had at least seven points.