Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic Continues at Missouri State
TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (1-7) AT MISSOURI STATE (6-3)
Monday, Dec. 19 • 7 p.m. CT
JQH Arena (11,000) • Springfield, Mo.
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team continues the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic on Monday night when it travels to Springfield, Mo., for a matchup with Missouri State. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at JQH Arena between the Islanders and Bears. This will be the final on-campus game of the exempt tournament, with the final two games for A&M - Corpus Christi to be played in Las Vegas on Thursday and Friday.
The Islanders are coming off an 84-64 loss to West Virginia on Saturday afternoon. Chris Hawkins-Mast scored a career-best 22 points and Terence Jones added 20 in a losing effort. The Mountaineers used 24 second-half points in the paint to pull away in the 20-point victory.
Missouri State sits at 6-3 after knocking off Kennesaw State 78-55 on Saturday. Kyle Weems went for 22 points, eight boards, four assists and two blocks in the victory for the Bears, who shot nearly 60 percent from the field. The Bears are 3-1 at home, the only loss to Oklahoma State on Dec. 7.
• The Islanders are 0-1 against the Bears all-time, the only meeting in Springfield in 2005.
• This is the third game in five days for Texas A&M - Corpus Christi and the middle contest of five games in eight days.
• Chris Hawkins-Mast scored a career-high 22 points last game and went 8-for-10 from the free-throw line.
• Terence Jones has caught fire from the field over the last four games, shooting 60.9 percent from beyond the arc and averaging 18.8 points per game.
• Johnathan Jordan has rapidly climbed the rankings in the Southland in assists, as he leads the league with 4.3 per game.
LAST TIME OUT
Chris Hawkins-Mast had a career-high 22 points and Terence Jones added 20, but West Virginia's inside game lifted it to an 84-64 victory on Saturday at the WVU Coliseum. Kevin Jones scored 22 and Deniz Kilicli added 13 for the Mountaineers, who improved to 7-2 on the year.
Myron Dempsey added eight points and eight boards for the Islanders (1-7), while Johnathan Jordan matched his career-high with six assists in the contest. The Islanders shot 50 percent (7-of-14) from the outside in the game.
SCOUTING THE BEARS
Missouri State sits at 6-3 on the season and is on a two-game winning streak. The Bears started 4-0 and then suffered three straight losses before the current string. MSU plays West Virginia and Saint Mary's in Las Vegas.
Kyle Weems leads the Bears with 15.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game on the year. Michael Bizoukas has been the primary distributor for the team with his 58 assists over nine games. Paul Lusk is in his first season as the head coach of Missouri State.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
This will be the second time that the Islanders have taken on the Bears in Springfield. The last trip was when Texas A&M - Corpus Christi headed to the Missouri State Price Cutter Classic in 2005. At the event, the Islanders went 1-1, defeating USF 59-47, but falling to the host Bears, 95-75. This will be the first time the team has played in JQH Arena, as the facility opened in 2008.
Against the Missouri Valley Conference, the Islanders are 1-2, with the aforementioned game against the Bears and a 1-1 record against Drake. A&M - Corpus Christi defeated Drake at the Islanders Classic in 2003, but lost the return trip to Des Moines in 2005.
VEGAS, BABY … VEGAS
This will be the second straight season that the Islanders take part in a Las Vegas-based exempt tournament, as they took part in the Las Vegas Invitational last season. A year ago, the Islanders fell at Ohio and Kansas before splitting affairs in Vegas with Bethune-Cookman and Valparaiso.
This year, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi takes part in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, which sees them travel to West Virginia, Missouri State and play two games in the City of Lights.
Over the upcoming trip, the Islanders will log over 5,000 air miles. Including Thursday's game against USA, the Islanders will play five games in a span of eight days.
FINDING THE RANGE
Junior Terence Jones is the team's leading returning scorer from last season, but had struggled to heat up in the offensive end over the first four games of the season. That all changed on Dec. 1 against Texas Tech, as the Baltimore native went off for a career-high 26 points on 9-of-19 shooting.
It was the most points for an Islanders player since Justin Reynolds scored 26 against UT-Arlington on March 2, 2011, and it started the junior on a hot streak.
Jones followed up the Tech game with another solid effort, going 5-for-9 from the field and hitting both treys he shot for 12 points at Houston. In the South Alabama affair, Jones upped the ante from the outside, burying his first four threes en route to 17 more points. At West Virginia, he went 4-for-5 from beyond the arc and tallied his second 20-point game of the season.
Over the last four contests, the Baltimore native has averaged 18.3 points and shot 60.9 percent from beyond the arc. He has gone 25-for-48 from the field overall. He is only three triples away from 100 in his career.
After being a role player in his first season for the Islanders, senior Chris Hawkins-Mast has emerged as one of the team's go-to guys on the offensive end. Hawkins-Mast is second on the team with his 11.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest.
After strong performances in the exhibition and first game of the year, he had gone cold for a couple games before re-emerging with 16 points and nine boards against Texas Tech. Then on Saturday against WVU, he delivered a career-best 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting and an 8-of-10 performance at the line.
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.
The Islanders point guard may be one of the smallest players in the Southland Conference, but what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in athletic ability. Houston native Johnathan Jordan stands just 5-foot-10, but his extreme athleticism and basketball IQ are the aspects of his makeup that are far more important to the Islanders.
He has been impressive leading the Islanders offense with his 34 assists and leads the conference with 4.3 per game. His 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio is currently sixth in the league.
In the Houston game, he filled the stat sheet, scoring eight points and leading the team with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. He also had a career-best six dimes against Texas Tech.
Over the last six games, Jordan has had at least four assists in every contest. He is averaging 4.8 assists per contest over that span and has committed an average of just 2.8 turnovers.