Men's Hoops Opens Conference Play at McNeese SaturdayTEXAS A&M-CORPUS CHRISTI (5-9, 0-0) at McNEESE STATE (8-5, 0-0)
Saturday, Jan. 8 • 1 p.m. CT
Burton Coliseum (6,500) • Lake Charles, La.
RADIO: 1230 AM, 103.3 and 96.1 FM (Steven King)
LIVE STATS: McNeeseSports.com
THE OPENING TIP
After a strenuous non-conference schedule that saw it play eight teams that advanced to the 2010 postseason, the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team opens conference play with a tilt at McNeese State on Saturday, Jan. 8. The Islanders enter the contest with a 5-9 overall record after a 70-55 loss to Texas Tech on Sunday, while the Cowboys sit at 8-5 following a loss to Texas A&M on New Year's Day.
The Islanders played four Big 12 teams in their non-conference play, finalizing the effort against the Red Raiders. In that game, Texas Tech was able to stymie the Islanders' offensive efforts late in the first half and post a 15-point victory. Justin Reynolds had his most impressive game of the season in Lubbock, going 8-for-10 from the field with a season-best 20 points and three steals. Demond Watt added his sixth double-double of the year with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Terence Jones netted all 11 of his points after halftime.
• Senior Justin Reynolds put up his best game of the season Sunday at Texas Tech. The Pearland, Texas, native scored a season-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and also had a season-best three steals. It is his seventh game in double figures in the last nine contests. He has averaged 12.6 points and 8.1 rebounds over that span.
• Head Coach Perry Clark is just one win shy of 300 in his career. The veteran bench boss has a 299-258 career record and was the 1992 National Coach of the Year.
• 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.
• Watt has had four games with 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds this season. His 17 career double-doubles are third in school history, as he delivered his fifth and sixth double-doubles of the year against Montreat and Texas Tech, respectively.
• The Islanders have played the 18th-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 and two that made the 2010 NIT in non-conference play.
• 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 4-3 this year when having at least three players with 10-plus points, having done so in each of the last two games.
• Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is 0-6 on the road this season to go along with a 2-2 neutral-site mark and a 3-1 home record.
SCOUTING THE COWBOYS
McNeese sits at 8-5 on the year with a similarly linear divide to the Islanders. The Cowboys are 8-0 at home and 0-5 on the road this year. McNeese has a win over common opponent Georgia State, 68-62, in the second game of the year, while both the Islanders and Cowboys lost contests to Texas A&M. McNeese state took SEC foe LSU to overtime before suffering an eight-point loss.
The Cowboys are led by Patrick Richard, who tops the team with 15.5 points per contest and has added 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Diego Kapelan adds 13.4 points per affair, while Stephan Martin has been the best outside shooter with his 42.6 percent. P.J. Alawoya tops the team with 9.8 boards a game.
This will be the sixth meeting between the Islanders and McNeese State, with the Islanders holding a 3-2 edge in the all-time series. The Cowboys have won both games in Lake Charles, while the Islanders have taken both affairs in Corpus Christi. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi won a meeting with McNeese in the 2007 Southland Tournament. The Cowboys knocked off the Islanders last year in Lake Charles, 65-62, with Demond Watt scoring 22 points in the loss.
The Islanders are 3-1 in Southland Conference openers all-time, with wins in two straight seasons. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi's last conference-opening loss came at McNeese on Jan. 12, 2008. The Islanders are also 3-1 in their first road conference contest all-time, the lone blemish that same game with the Cowboys.
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 1,055 career points for the Islanders, while Watt has 1,019.
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 one win shy of breaking the 300-win barrier. The veteran coach is 299-258 in his career to go along with a 49-59 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 seven games in double figures in the last nine. He rang in the New Year with his best performance of the season, scoring 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go along with three steals against Texas Tech.
Reynolds, who was named to the Dr. Pepper Classic All-Tournament Team for his efforts on the court, is averaging 12.6 points and 8.1 rebounds the last nine games. Against Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 26, he had his lone double-double this year with 10 points and 13 boards.