UTAH STATE (2-1) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (0-2)
Monday, Nov. 14 • 7 p.m. CT
American Bank Center (8,100) • Corpus Christi, Texas
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team returns to action as part of a Turkey Tuesday two-fer on Tuesday, Nov. 22, when it faces Utah State. The Islanders women's basketball team will face Iona at 5 p.m. with the men's game to follow at approximately 7:30.
The Islanders are 0-2 on the season, having fallen at Oklahoma State and at home against Denver. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi rallied against the Pioneers, trimming a 14-point second-half deficit to three in the closing minute, but DU was able to stave off the rally for the win.
Utah State comes into the game at 2-1, having won home games against BYU and Southern Utah, but falling at Weber State. The Aggies went 30-4 last season, including a 15-1 mark in the Western Athletic Conference, and were one of the top teams in then nation in RPI a year ago. Head Coach Stew Morrill is among the active leaders with 544 career wins.
LAST TIME OUT
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team used a late rally to pull within three with 26 seconds to play, but Denver hit its free throws down the stretch to tally a 65-58 victory over the Islanders on Monday night. The Islanders were powered by four players in double figures, including a career-high 17 points and seven rebounds from Myron Dempsey.
Johnathan Jordan added 12 points and three steals and Terence Jones chipped in 11 points and three assists for the Islanders. Chris Hawkins-Mast had his third double-digit scoring night with 10 points and seven rebounds, while Nate Maxey had his second-straight game with four blocks in the loss. Brian Stafford (25 points) and Chris Udofia (12 points, six blocks) led the Pioneers.
SCOUTING THE AGGIES
Utah State has a 2-1 record on the year, with wins over BYU and Southern Utah and a loss at Weber State. Brockeith Pane leads the team with 15.3 points per game and 11 assists on the year, while Morgan Grim (11.7) and Preston Medlin (11.0) both average double figures as well. Brady Jardine has been the top player on the boards with 7.7 rebounds per game this year. USU is similar in size to Denver, with no starter over 6-foot-7.
ARE YOU NEW HERE?
This will be the first meeting between the Islanders and Aggies. In fact, it is the first game for the Islanders against any current member of the Western Athletic Conference. Tthe only games the Islanders have ever played against WAC opponents were two road contests at UTEP, going 1-1, played in 2001 and 2003, before the Miners departed for Conference USA in 2005.
Of course, next year, the Islanders will be on the speed dial of WAC coaches for game film. In addition to playing Utah State, the Islanders also play seven games against teams joining the conference next year – Denver, who will move from the Sun Belt, and the trio of Southland foes that are joining the league – UTSA, Texas State and UT-Arlington.
EASY AS ABC
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has historically been very strong playing its home games at the American Bank Center. Entering their seventh season in the facility, the Islanders have a 65-27 record playing at the ABC, including four seasons with at least nine wins there.
Unfortunately, recent history has been less kind to Texas A&M - Corpus Christi in the arena. The Islanders have lost six of the last seven games downtown heading into tonight's affair.
After being a role player in his first season for the Islanders, senior Chris Hawkins-Mast has emerged as the team's go-to guy on the offensive end. Hawkins-Mast led the Islanders with 23 points in the exhibition against UIW, then led all scorers in the game at Oklahoma State, netting 14. He followed that with seven boards and 10 points against Denver, including two on a thunderous dunk early in the game.
Hawkins-Mast has been arguably the hardest worker on the team, spending a tremendous amount of time on his jump shot outside of practice. The result has been a significant improvement in that area while still possessing his ability to get to the rim.
The native of Washington, D.C., attended a pair of junior colleges before landing at the Island University prior to the 2010-11 season. He went by the name "Chris Mast" a year ago, but chose to use his full legal name to honor his mother, whose maiden name is Hawkins.
Freshman Nate Maxey has been identified as the player with possibly the highest ceiling on the Islanders team, and he showed why at Oklahoma State. In his regular-season debut, the San Diego native had four blocks and seven rebounds in the first half.
He followed that up with another four blocks – three in the first half – against Denver. All four attempts that he swatted away were on attempted layups. He is already 38 percent of the way to setting a new freshman record for blocks in a season – Carl Nelson swatted 21 attempts in 2005-06 – and leads the conference with 4.0 blocks per game.
The athletic 6-foot-11 big man has a massive 7-foot-9 wingspan. He added four points on 2-of-3 shooting against the Cowboys and had another four points in the game against the Pioneers.