Islanders Set for Clash With BearkatsTEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (8-16, 3-6 SLC) AT SAM HOUSTON STATE (12-10, 5-4)
Saturday, Feb. 12 • 7 p.m. CT
Johnson Coliseum (6,110) • Huntsville, Texas
RADIO: 1230 AM, 103.3 and 96.1 FM (Steven King)
LIVE VIDEO/STATS: GoBearkats.com
THE OPENING TIP
In search of a crucial road win, the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team heads to Huntsville, Texas, for a matchup with Sam Houston State. This will be the second meeting of the season between the West Division rivals, as the Islanders knocked off the Bearkats in a hotly-contested 70-68 win on Jan. 22. Garland Judkins led the way with 17 points, three assists and two steals in the victory.
Since that game, the Islanders have lost four of five, the lone victory a road win over conference favorite Stephen F. Austin two weeks ago. Last game, Savannah State tied things up with 5.6 seconds left and emerged victorious in overtime, 63-57, on Monday night. SHSU has won three straight games and is 3-1 since falling to the Islanders. On Wednesday, the Bearkats knocked off UT Arlington on the road, 78-74, after holding off a late Maverick charge. Four players finished in double figures, led by Josten Crow's 20 and Gilberto Clavell's 19.
• 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 34th nationally in that statistic. He has also had 20 points and 10 boards five times this season. He has had two straight games with 18 points and nine boards.
• In what was a down game for most of his teammates, senior Justin Reynolds had a very strong outing against Savannah State. The Pearland, Texas, native finished with 19 points and a career-best 15 rebounds in a losing effort.
• 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.
• Watt and 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 (1,171) is sixth in school history, while Reynolds (1,152) is seventh in Islanders lore.
• The Islanders are 1-9 in true road contests this year, but won the last time they played away from Corpus Christi. The Islanders knocked off Stephen F. Austin, 46-45, in Nacogdoches two weeks ago in Perry Clark's first career win over the Lumberjacks.
• Chris Mast has missed the last three 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 BEARKATS
Sam Houston State has won three straight conference games to push the squad over .500 in conference play at 5-4. The Bearkats knocked off UTSA and Southeastern Louisiana at home and followed that up with a road win at UT Arlington on Wednesday. After starting league play 2-1, SHSU lost three straight - road contests to Texas State and the Islanders and a home game against SFA.
Gilberto Clavell is one of the top candidates for Southland Conference Player of the Year, averaging 19.9 points and 7.4 rebounds this year. He has been an impressive inside presence, shooting 56.3 percent from the field and is among the conference leaders with 187 free-throw attempts on the year. Josten Crow has added 13.6 points per game to go along with 5.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists on the year. He has also been the team's primary perimeter threat with 38 triples on the year.
A LOOK AT THE SOUTHLAND
Just past the midway point, the Southland is still wide open, especially in the West. Texas State is in the lead at 6-3, but just a game behind there is a four-way tie for second place. Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, UTSA and UT Arlington are all 5-4 in league play. The Islanders are still in the mix at 3-6 in conference affairs.
In the East, things are slightly more clear, with Northwestern State sitting at 6-3 to lead the way, while McNeese State is just behind at 5-3. Southeastern currently has the last spot in the tourney at 5-4, while Nicholls is just on the outside looking in at 5-5. Lamar (3-5) and Central Arkansas (1-9) are currently fifth and sixth in the conference, respectively.
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.
After a recent dry spell, the Pearland, Texas, native caught fire last game with one of his top outings in an Islander uniform. The senior grabbed a career-high 15 boards to go along with 19 points, his second highest output of the season, against Savannah State on Monday. He also played a caeer-best 39 minutes in the contest. He rang in the New Year with his previous 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 an even 10 points per game after his 19 on Monday. He has two double-doubles this year, the other coming against Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 26.
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.