Men's Basketball Takes on Savannah State MondaySAVANNAH STATE (5-17) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (8-15)
Monday, Feb. 7 • 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 steps out of conference play for a matchup with Savannah State on Monday night at the American Bank Center. The Islanders have fallen in back-to-back conference contests, losing games to Nicholls and Northwestern State this week. On Saturday night, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi had one of its better offensive games of the season, but Northwestern State was able to counter that with a strong offensive game of its own in a 72-66 victory. Four Islanders finished in double figures, led by Demond Watt's 18, but it was not enough to garner the win.
Savannah State has won three in a row and sits at 5-17 overall on the season. The Tigers earned a 67-61 win over Arkansas State on Feb. 1, giving head coach Horace Broadnax his 100th career victory as a coach. Jovonni Shuler scored 20 points, going 9-for-12 from the line, in leading SSU to the win. The Tigers shot 50 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 9.5 per outing. He is second in the Southland and 33rd nationally in that statistic. He has also had 20 points and 10 boards five times this season. He just missed a double-double with 18 points and nine boards Saturday.
• Senior Horace Bond had one of his finest offensive games in an Islanders uniform against Northwestern State. The defensive standout had his first career double-double with 11 points and 12 boards. The 12 rebounds matched a career high for the Gary, Ind., native, who is third on the team in caroms.
• After three of his best games in an Islanders uniform, Arizona transfer Garland Judkins has run into two straight tough games. He posted a career-high 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting against Sam Houston State, then added 12 at Texas State on Jan. 26. He capped it off with 13 points at Stephen F. Austin. In the four games prior to Saturday, Judkins was 21-of-38 (55.3 percent) from the field.
• 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 (1,142) is sixth in school history, while Reynolds (1,133) is seventh in Islanders lore.
• The Islanders have lost back-to-back home games for the first time since the end of the 2007-08 season, when Texas State and Lamar defeated them at the American Bank Center. Those were the final two contests of a three-game home losing streak for the Islanders.
• Chris Mast has missed the last two games with a foot injury and is day-to-day entering tonight's affair. He had started the previous six games for the Islanders.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
Savannah State has won three straight contests to push its record to 5-17 on the season. The Tigers have knocked off Stetson, Longwood and Arkansas State in their last three contests, with the Longwood victory coming on the road. SSU has a 1-14 record in true road contests. The only common opponent between the Tigers and Islanders is Southeastern La., with both teams defeating the Lions.
Jovonni Shuler leads the way with his 16.6 points per game, while Preston Blackmon (12.5) and Joshua Montgomery (10.7) also average in double figures. Jyles Smith has been the main inside presence with his 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi and Savannah State have a long-standing non-conference rivalry. The Islanders are 8-1 against the Tigers all-time, with a 4-0 record in Corpus Christi and a 4-1 mark in Savannah. The last time the two teams played resulted in a 47-42 Tiger victory on Dec. 18, 2008.
A LOOK AT THE SOUTHLAND
Just past the midway point, the Southland is still wide open, especially in the West. UTSA and Texas State are tied for the lead at 5-3, with UT Arlington at 4-3 just behind. Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State are 4-4 with the Islanders sitting at 3-6. In the East, Northwestern State leads the way at 6-3 with McNeese just behind at 5-3 and Nicholls at 5-4. Southeastern (4-4), Lamar (3-5) and UCA (1-7) round out the East. UT Arlington plays Central Arkansas tonight in a contest that was postponed due to weather.
LICENSE TO KILL
Senior Horace Bond has been known throughout his career as a top-notch defender who scored most of his points through his hard-nosed effort. His 425 career rebounds place him seventh on the Islanders' list.
So Bond likely wasn't tops on the list of players the Islanders would want to take a clutch jumper. But when the call came against Southeastern Louisiana, Bond answered it. With the score tied at 57-57, the Gary, Ind., native buried a three from the top of the key to break the deadlock.
His finest offensive game came on Wednesday, though, as he posted the first double-double of his career with 11 points and 12 boards against Northwestern State. Bond, who is third on the team with 4.5 rebounds per game, recently limited the conference's leading scorer, Anatoly Bose, to 12 points.
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 on Jan. 26, 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.
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 in a recent string of four games. Before a rough offensive outing against Northwestern State on Saturday, he had finished in double figures in three of the previous four, leading the team in scoring twice, and shot 21-for-38 from the field (.553) over that time.
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. 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 assists. He scored six points against Nicholls.
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.
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 64-22 in the building, including four seasons with at least nine wins and six with double-digit victories.
This year, the Islanders are 5-4 at home, including a 4-4 mark in the Bank Center, with one of those losses coming to No. 16 Texas A&M. On the other hand, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is just 2-2 at neutral sites and 1-9 in true road contests.
The Islanders have played three regular-season games in the Dugan Wellness Center since it opened in 2009, going 3-0 in the building, including a resounding 70-68 win over Sam Houston State on Jan. 22.
Though Demond Watt has led the offense, the Islanders have played their best offensive basketball this season when getting scoring from a wide array of sources. The Islanders are 5-4 when at least 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 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.
Northwestern State represented one of the Islanders' best offensive games of the season, as four players finished in double figures and Garland Judkins added seven points. But the bench production was down in the game, shooting just 3-for-13 for seven points.