Tuesday, Feb. 15 • 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 returns to the American Bank Center on Tuesday for the second matchup of the season against Texas State. The Islanders have lost four straight games, while the Bobcats have won four in a row. Tuesday night marks the Hoops for Blue Scholars game, as every basket that the Islanders score will help raise money for the One Hundred Club Scholarship, which benefits the families of Corpus Christi police officers.
The Islanders are coming off a 75-67 defeat at the hands of Sam Houston State on Saturday. Terence Jones had a career-high 21 in a losing effort, as the Islanders' late surge came up short in the loss. Texas State overcame a sizable halftime deficit to knock off UT Arlington on Saturday, as the Bobcats came out of the locker room on a 40-12 run and were able to hold off the Mavs' late rally. Eddie Rios scored 20 points and Cameron Johnson had 16 along with eight boards in the win.
• Sophomore Terence Jones had a banner day from the field on Saturday, as the Baltimore native scored a career-high 21 points at Sam Houston State. Jones was 4-of-7 from downtown and 8-of-14 from the field in the contest.
• In his second start of the season at SHSU, Jawan Nelson had one of his finest games in an Islanders uniform. The junior scored 10 points and added six boards in a career-high 24 minutes.
• 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 Demond Watt is among the conference leaders with nine double-doubles on the season, and is just shy of averaging double-digit boards at 9.4 per outing. He is second in the Southland and 35th nationally. He has also had 20 points and 10 boards five times this season. He has scored in double figures in nine straight games.
• 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 (1,181) is sixth in school history, while Reynolds (1,157) is seventh in Islanders lore.
• Chris Mast returned at SHSU after missing the previous three games with a foot injury and played eight minutes. He had started the prior six games for the Islanders.
• The Islanders were 8-of-9 from the free-throw line at Sam Houston State. Justin Reynolds (1-for-2) was the only Islander to miss a free throw on Saturday.
• For every basket that the Islanders score, a donation will be made to the One Hundred Club Scholarship as part of the Hoops for Blue Scholars program.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS
Texas State has won four games in a row and currently sits atop the conference race at 7-3 in league play. Since a seven-game losing skid at the end of 2010, the Bobcats are 10-4 to emerge as the hottest team in the conference. Texas State is 9-3 at home, but just 2-6 on the road, with its only two road victories at Central Arkansas and UTPA, both of which are in the bottom 10 of the RPI rankings.
Cameron Johnson leads the team with 13.3 points, but Tony Bishop has been very effective with his 11.4 per game and 7.6 boards each time out. Eddie Rios has also averaged in double figures with 10.1 points. Ryan White, who scored 20 against the Islanders in the January meeting, leads the team with 115 assists on the year.
A LOOK AT THE SOUTHLAND
With about six games remaining per team, the Southland is still wide open, especially in the West. Texas State is in the lead at 7-3, but Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State are 6-4. UTSA and UT Arlington are both 5-5 on the year, while the Islanders are two games back at 3-7 in league play.
In the East, things are only slightly more clear, with McNeese State atop the division at 6-3, though the Cowboys are in a stretch of playing four games in eight days. Northwestern State is just percentage points behind at 7-4. Southeastern currently sits at 6-4, while Nicholls is the first team out of the tourney at 5-6. Lamar (4-6) and Central Arkansas (1-10) are currently fifth and sixth in the division, respectively.
A year ago as a redshirt freshman, Terence Jones was an up-and-down player who showed flashes of brilliance. As of late, Jones has become an important distributor for the Islanders, and leads the team with his 54 assists.
But after not showing the scoring touch he had early in the season, Jones exploded for 21 points at Sam Houston State. The Baltimore native went 4-of-7 from downtown and 8-of-14 overall to go along with four assists.
In the two games in Las Vegas, he proved to be a far more impressive all-around player. Against Bethune-Cookman, Jones shot a three early in the shot clock and head coach Perry Clark sent a message by pulling him in the opening minute.
Rather than sulk, though, Jones changed his game, and against Valpo he had a season-high five assists to just one turnover, and also scored nine points. Over the last 15 games, he has posted 37 assists to 26 turnovers, including three games with at least four assists and no turns.
The most imposing player on the Islanders' roster is junior Jawan Nelson, though he's not as bulky as he was a year ago. The 6-foot-9 Nelson worked hard in the offseason to cut weight from his frame, and has dropped over 50 pounds.
In his second start of the season, Nelson poured in 10 points and grabbed six boards in a career-high 24 minutes on Saturday. He also had three blocks and played strong defense on SHSU's Gilberto Clavell despite being in foul trouble for most of the game.
The Chicago, Ill., native is averaging 4.6 points so far this season after averaging just 1.4 a year ago. He also has proven to be an effective weapon from beyond the arc, as his .400 shooting percentage is tops on the team.