Wednesday, Jan. 26 • 7 p.m. CT
Strahan Coliseum (7,200) • San Marcos, Texas
RADIO: 1230 AM, 103.3 and 96.1 FM (Steven King)
LIVE VIDEO/STATS: TXStateBobcats.com
THE OPENING TIP
Coming off perhaps its most impressive performance of the season, the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team plays the first contest of a two-game conference road swing at Texas State on Wednesday night. The Islanders knocked off preseason conference favorite Sam Houston State, 70-68, on Saturday behind a career-high 17 points from Garland Judkins and some clutch shots down the stretch by Hollis Hill. They had a season-low seven turnovers in a pivotal Southland contest, and will look to draw even in conference action against the Bobcats. The Islanders are still seeking their first road win, as they come in 0-8 in road contests.
Texas State comes into the battle at 7-11 overall and 2-2 in conference play. The Bobcats have won five of their last eight after snapping a seven-game losing streak against Appalachian State on Dec. 23. The Bobcats fell 88-84 to UTSA on Saturday, as their comeback bid came up short on the road. Eddie Rios led four players in double figures with 20 points in the losing effort.
• Arizona transfer Garland Judkins battled through foul trouble to post a career-high 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting against Sam Houston State. The junior has been working his way back from an ankle injury suffered against Houston that caused him to miss three games.
• Judkins' performance wasn't the only instance of strong guard play against the Bearkats. The Islanders had a season-low seven turnovers in the game, three of which were on offensive fouls. After Judkins fired an errant pass 54 seconds into the second half, the Islanders did not commit a single turnover.
• Though he's only a freshman, Chicago native Hollis Hill has already proved himself to be one of the team's best clutch players. The guard hit three straight baskets at the end of the game and scored the Islanders' final seven points against SHSU.
• Senior Demond Watt leads the Southland Conference with eight double-doubles on the season, and is just shy of averaging double-digit boards at 9.7 per outing. He is second in the Southland and 27th nationally in that statistic. He has also had 20 points and 10 boards four times this season. His 19 double-doubles are tied for second in school history.
• While the Islanders have gone 5-2 at home so far this year, they are still searching for their first road victory. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is 0-8 on the road to go along with a 2-2 neutral-site mark.
• Watt and fellow senior Justin Reynolds are just the second pair of Islanders teammates to top 1,000 career points at the same time, joining Corey Lamkin and Travis Bailey, who did so in 2005. Reynolds (1,095) is sixth in school history, while Watt (1,087) is seventh in Islanders lore.
• The Islanders had one of their best outings of the season at the free-throw line on Saturday, going 13-for-16 from the stripe. Demond Watt led the way with his 6-for-6 performance.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS
Texas State has a 7-11 record after Saturday's defeat at the hands of UTSA. The Bobcats have knocked off Northwestern State and Sam Houston State in conference action, both at home, but have dropped road contests at McNeese and UTSA. The Bobcats' high octane offense has averaged 80.7 points so far this year.
Cameron Johnson leads the way with 13.6 points, while Tony Bishop has averaged 10.1 points and 7.1 rebounds. Seven different players average at least eight points per game for the squad, and no player has averaged more than Ryan White's 26.9 minutes per game.
Junior transfer Garland Judkins came in with lofty expectations, and after a slow start he has begun to fulfill those. Judkins was just getting into his stride in December when an ankle injury against Houston sidelined him for three games.
But after slowly building up strength, Judkins showed just what he was capable of against Sam Houston State. The Humble, Texas, native went 7-for-12 from the field en route to a career-best 17 points. His best offensive attribute was his ability in transition, as he had two steals and six fast-break points. Ten of his 17 points came on layups. But more importantly may have been his control of the game, as he led the team to a season low in turnovers and himself had three assists in the game.
Judkins also had a stellar debut for the Islanders, scoring a team-high 16 points against Northeastern State. Judkins went 5-for-7 from the field, including a three-pointer, and hit all five of his free throws. He added nine points and three assists against Texas A&M.
TAKING CARE OF THE ROCK
The number that jumped off the stat sheet on Saturday was certainly the "7" in the turnovers column for the Islanders. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi had just one turnover in the second half, and that came in the opening minute of action. Of the seven turnovers, three came on offensive fouls as well.
Though he's just a freshman, Chicago native Hollis Hill may be close to picking up the nickname "Mr. Clutch" for the Islanders. Hill played just 10 minutes against Sam Houston, but his play at the end of the game was crucial to the victory.
With the home squad down two at 65-63, Hill coolly sliced his way into the lane and hit an acrobatic layup to tie the game. After an empty possession for the Bearkats, Hill came through again, this time grabbing the rebound of a Terence Jones shot and hitting a soft jumper from the right elbow to give the Islanders the lead. He topped it off with his third straight basket, hitting a jumper from just inside the top of the key to make it a 69-65 ballgame. He added a free throw at the end to score the Islanders' final seven points of the contest.
This isn't the first time Hill has shown his clutch ability. Against Southeastern Louisiana, he played just 1.9 seconds, but in that time he got an inbounds pass and knocked down both of his free throws with 8.1 seconds to play to ice the Islanders' win.
Even when the games don't count, Hill can be counted on. He drilled a fadeaway jumper just before the final buzzer of Texas A&M - Corpus Christi's win over Incarnate Word in the exhibition season. The freshman is averaging 3.5 points in 8.6 minutes of action this year.
Though Demond Watt has led the offense, 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 5-3 when three men hit double digits.
Though only two players finished in double figures, the trend continued against Southeastern Louisiana. In addition to Demond Watt's 13 and Chris Mast's 10, the Islanders got nine points from Garland Judkins and Justin Reynolds in addition to seven from Horace Bond.
In the game against Sam Houston State, Garland Judkins led the way with 17, but Watt added 12 points and Justin Reynolds had 10. Terence Jones was just one point shy of making it four players with double digits in the points column, as he finished with nine.