Wednesday, Feb. 2 • 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
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team is looking for back-to-back wins in a crucial battle against Nicholls on Wednesday, Feb. 2, at the American Bank Center. The Islanders are coming off an impressive, 46-45 road win over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday in Nacogdoches. Justin Reynolds' free throw with 1.8 seconds to play broke a 45-all tie to send the Islanders to their first victory over the Lumberjacks in Perry Clark's tenure. Garland Judkins had 13 points, his third straight game in double figures, while Demond Watt added 12 in the win.
Nicholls comes in having won three of its last four after a 78-71 win over Lamar on Saturday in Thibodeaux. Fred Hunter and Anatoly Bose each scored 22 points in the victory, while Ben Martin added 14. The Colonels went 11-for-26 from downtown in staying within one game of first-place McNeese State in the East. Nicholls is just 1-7 on the road this year as compared to a 9-1 record in Thibodeaux.
• Arizona transfer Garland Judkins has finished in double figures for three straight games for the Islanders. He posted a career-high 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting against Sam Houston State, then added 12 at Texas State on Wednesday. He capped it off with 13 points at Stephen F. Austin on Saturday. In his last three games, Judkins is 19-of-33 (57.6 percent) from the field.
• Senior Demond Watt leads the Southland Conference with nine double-doubles on the season, and is just shy of averaging double-digit boards at 9.6 per outing. He is second in the Southland and 30th nationally in that statistic. He has also had 20 points and 10 boards five times this season. He had 20 points and 12 rebounds at Texas State last week.
• 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.
• The Islanders exorcised several demons on Saturday. It marked the first win for the Islanders over SFA in Perry Clark's tenure. It was also the Islanders' first road win of the season and the first time they won when trailing at halftime.
• 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. Watt (1,119) is sixth in school history, while Reynolds (1,114) is seventh in Islanders lore.
• The Islanders made the most of their opportunities on Saturday, hittin 20-of-36 shots from the field for a season-best .556 shooting percentage. They hit 13-of-22 shots after halftime.
• Justin Reynolds had a strong all-around game against the Lumberjacks, scoring nine points to go with a career-high six assists, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal. He hit the game-winning free throw with 1.8 seconds left.
SCOUTING THE COLONELS
Nicholls has now won three of four after a 78-71 triumph over Lamar on Saturday. The Colonels wrapped up a four-game home stand before heading west to Corpus Christi.
Anatoly Bose is the top option for Nicholls, and is one of the best scorers in the Southland. He averages 22.4 points along with 5.2 boards, while Fred Hunter is scoring 15.4 points and snaring 5.9 rebounds each time out. The Colonels are just 1-7 away from Thibodeaux this year.
A LOOK AT THE SOUTHLAND
On the East side, McNeese leads the way with a 5-2 mark, just ahead of 4-3 Northwestern State and Nicholls. Southeastern Louisiana and Lamar sit at 3-3 in league play, while Central Arkansas is at the bottom with a 1-5 mark. The West is wide open, with UT-Arlington leading the way at 4-2, but every team is within 1.5 games, with the Islanders and Sam Houston State tied for the cellar at 3-4.
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 the last three games. He has finished in double figures all three, leading the team in scoring twice, and has shot 19-for-33 from the field (.576) over that time.
Against Sam Houston State, the Humble, Texas, native went 7-for-12 from he 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. He had a tough game at Texas State with six turnovers, but still managed to score 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting with a career-high four rebounds. At Stephen F. Austin, he again controlled the up-tempo game, netting 13 points with a career-high five boards and three assist.
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.
Senior Demond Watt has been one of the top rebounders in the Southland this year. He had a string of back-to-back double-doubles and three straight with 10-plus rebounds snapped against SHSU, finishing with just seven boards.
He had his fifth 20-10 game last Wednesday, pouring in 20 points and grabbing 12 boards at Texas State. The senior went 6-of-12 from the floor and 8-of-12 from the stripe in the game.
The Chicago native scored 13 points and added 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the year against Southeastern. But more importantly, he came through when his team needed it most, delivering two three-point plays - one that gave the Islanders a two-point lead and another that turned a 46-46 tie into a three-point edge.
He was recognized for his efforts in a win against Houston by earning Southland Conference Player of the Week honors, the first weekly honor of his career. He scored 17 points and had nine rebounds in 41 minutes. He is currently third in the conference in minutes, trailing only guards Devin Gibson and Anatoly Bose in that category.
Watt was named to the iBN Las Vegas Invitational All-Tournament Team for his play 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 poured 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 scored 21 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. It marked the most rebounds by an Islanders player since Corey Lamkin had 18 at Air Force on Jan. 21, 2004.