Wednesday, Jan. 12 • 7 p.m. CT
American Bank Center (8,100) • Corpus Christi, Texas
RADIO: 1230 AM, 103.3 and 96.1 FM (Steven King)
LIVE VIDEO/STATS: GoIslanders.com
THE OPENING TIP
For just the second time since December 1, the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team returns to the American Bank Center for its home conference opener against fellow West Division member UTSA on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Islanders (5-10, 0-1 Southland) are coming off a 72-49 setback at McNeese State, as the Cowboys defense forced 22 turnovers and the Islanders went ice cold from the field in the second half in the Islanders first conference-opening loss since 2008. Demond Watt had 16 points, going 10-of-11 from the free-throw line, in a losing effort for the Islanders.
UTSA is 6-7 on the year after suffering a last-minute, 62-59 loss to Sam Houston State on Saturday night in San Antonio. The Roadrunners held the lead until the closing minutes, and two three-point attempts by the home squad both went awry in the losing effort. Jeromie Hill scored 17 points, shooting 7-of-14 from the field, in the loss.
• Senior Justin Reynolds has been heating up as of late. He now has eight games in double figures in the last 10 contests. He has averaged 12.3 points and 7.7 rebounds over that span. Reynolds put up his best game of the season Jan. 2 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.
• Head Coach Perry Clark is just one win shy of 300 in his career. The veteran bench boss has a 299-259 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 played one of the toughest non-conference slates in the nation this year. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 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 0-7 on the road this season to go along with a 2-2 neutral-site mark and a 3-1 home record.
SCOUTING THE ROADRUNNERS
UTSA is 6-7 on the year after falling 62-59 to Sam Houston State in its conference opener on Saturday. The Roadrunners held the lead into the closing minutes, but were unable to connect on either of two potential game-tying three pointers in the final minute of regulation. Since knocking off Houston 68-63 on Dec. 11, UTSA is on a five-game losing streak.
Devin Gibson is the star for the Roadrunners, averaging 15.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists on the season. Jeromie Hill has added 14.2 points and 6.3 rebounds, while Melvin Johnson III has been the main three-point threat, averaging 13.2 points on 32-of-88 outside shooting.
EASY AS ABC
In seven years at the American Bank Center, the Islanders have enjoyed strong success at the facility. Since the 2004-05 season, when the Center opened, the Islanders are a combined 63-19 in the building, including four seasons with at least nine wins and six with double-digit victories.
This year, the Islanders are 3-1 at home, with their only loss coming to No. 16 Texas A&M. On the other hand, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is just 2-2 at neutral sites and 0-7 in true road contests.
The Islanders have played two regular-season games in the Dugan Wellness Center since it opened in 2009, going 2-0 in the building.
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 top the mark this year, joining 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.
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 1,065 career points for the Islanders, while Watt has 1,037.
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 299-259 in his career to go along with a 49-60 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 luster.
But the senior has heated up recently after a slow start, posting eight games in double figures in the last 10. 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 12.3 points and 7.7 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.
In addition to topping the 1,000 point plateau, Demond Watt has also topped the 700 rebound mark. Watt is second in school history in both rebounds (720) and blocks (115). He is 122 rebounds and 65 blocks behind the career leaders in those categories.
The Islanders have played their best basketball this season when getting scoring from a wide array of sources. The Islanders are 2-1 when seeing four players score in double figures and 4-3 when three men hit double digits.
They looked poised to continue that trend at McNeese early on, as six different players scored the first six buckets of the game and the visitors went toe-to-toe with the hot-shooting Cowboys. But after the quick start, the Islanders only got five baskets from players other than Justin Reynolds and Demond Watt the rest of the game.