LAMAR (8-5, 0-0 SOUTHLAND) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (1-11, 0-0)
Wednesday, Jan. 4 • 7 p.m. CT
American Bank Center (8,100) • Corpus Christi, Texas
TV: Southland TV (Lincoln Rose and Jim Haller) - KIII Digital 3.2
RADIO: NewsRadio 1360 AM KKTX (Steven King)
LIVE STATS/VIDEO: GoIslanders.com
THE OPENING TIP
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi begins 2012 on the hardwood on Wednesday, Jan. 4, when it takes on Lamar in the conference opener for both teams. The contest will be televised throughout the Texas and Louisiana region on Southland TV and will also be picked up nationally on ESPN3 (locally on KIII-TV Digital 3.2). The contest will also be the first of two "Los Islanders" contests that the men's basketball team takes part in, partnering with the Corpus Christi Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for the event.
The Islanders finished off a disastrous December with a 78-66 defeat at the hands of Rice and enter Southland play with an overall record of 1-11. A&M - Corpus Christi is on an eight-game losing streak having played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation.
Lamar leads the Southland with a 9-5 overall record and has also played a tough schedule with losses to three top-10 foes (Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State). Most recently, the Cardinals rolled Lyon College 102-58 on Saturday.
• Myron Dempsey has averaged 12.3 points and 9.0 boards over the last three games and had a career-high four steals against Rice.
• The Islanders had a season-best 15 steals in forcing 23 turnovers (converted into 30 points) at Rice on Dec. 28.
• Terence Jones averaged 15.5 points and shot 42.6 percent from beyond the arc in December.
• Johnathan Jordan is second in the Southland Conference with 3.8 assists per game and has had at least two dimes in every game of his career.
• Ted Wang has averaged 3.0 points and 5.0 boards over the past four games. He had scored 10 points and snared eight boards over his previous 13 career games.
LAST TIME OUT
The Islanders staged a furious late rally, but it was not enough to overcome an early deficit in a 78-66 loss to Rice on Wednesday, Dec. 28. Terence Jones (15 points) led three players in double figures for the Islanders. Myron Dempsey delivered 14 points and Chris Hawkins-Mast added 13 for the visitors, while Jason Smith had a career-high nine as well. The Islanders used a solid defensive effort to produce a season-high 15 steals and 23 turnovers, led by four each from Dempsey and Johnathan Jordan.
SCOUTING THE CARDINALS
Lamar has played a strong non-conference schedule, and still has compiled a 9-5 record. The Cardinals are 3-5 on the road, with wins over UT-Martin, Tennessee Tech and Rice away from Beaumont. Three of the five losses were to top-10 foes.
Mike James leads four players in double figures with his 14.5 points per game, while Anthony Miles has added 14.1. Devon Lamb paces the squad with 8.1 rebounds to go with 10.6 points, while Charlie Harper has added 10.1 points and 6.9 boards. The Cardinals are a veteran squad under the leadership of first-year head coach Pat Knight, who took over for Steve Roccaforte this past offseason.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Islanders and Cardinals have been back-and-forth in their all-time series, with Lamar holding a narrow 5-4 edge in the series. Lamar won the first four meetings between the two teams, then saw the Islanders win four straight before last year's contest. The Cards are 3-2 at home and 2-2 in Corpus Christi.
Last season, the lone meeting between the teams resulted in a 73-56 win for Lamar in Beaumont. The Islanders held a 41-30 halftime lead in the contest, but Anthony Miles scored all 16 of his points after the break in leading the home squad to the comeback win.
Now in their sixth season as a member of the Southland Conference, the Islanders open league play with a 1-11 overall record, the fewest wins heading into conference action in school history. The Islanders have a 3-2 all-time record in conference openers, with all the contests being played against McNeese State or Central Arkansas. The Islanders went 2-0 against the Bears and 1-2 against the Cowboys. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is also 3-2 in home conference openers.
TWO THE HARD WAY
Junior college transfer Myron Dempsey has been strong both on the offensive end and on the glass this year. Against Utah State, he delivered his finest performance, tallying a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds in leading the Islanders to the upset victory.
The long, athletic rebounder is currently third in the Southland Conference with his 7.8 rebounds per game after averaging 9.0 per game over his last three outings. Forty-two of his 93 boards have come in the offensive end, a league-best 3.5 per contest.
He has also heated up from the field as of late, posting 12.3 points per contests in the most recent trio of contests. He has gone 17-for-23 (.739) from the field in the last three after going 8-for-36 (.222) over the previous five.
But looking closer at the stats, it is amazing to see just how Dempsey has collected his points this year. The St. Petersburg, Fla., native has scored a total of 108 points. Of those, 92 have come from in the paint, including 46 of his 48 field goals. The junior also has a team-leading 38 second-chance points on the year.
He played last season at Redlands Community College, where he was the team's leading rebounder and led the squad to a 19-2 record down the stretch.
A LONG DECEMBER
The month of December was certainly not the kindest to the Islanders basketball team. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi went 0-8 in the month, playing a brutal schedule that had the team taking part in six games over the final 16 days of the month. The Islanders had just two home games, and traveled over 5,000 miles in the air in addition to just over 1,000 miles of bus trips.
Offensively, A&M-Corpus Christi improved significantly, averaging 60.5 points (49.5 in November) and shooting 37.4 percent from the field (35.4). Terence Jones led the way for the team's offense, as he averaged 15.5 points and shot 42.6 percent from beyond the arc in the month. But on defense, the results were less positive, as the Islanders surrendered an average of 71.5 points (61.8 in November) and a .445 field-goal percentage (.420).