Islanders Play Host to McNeese for Saturday Showdown
McNEESE STATE (4-8, 0-0 SOUTHLAND) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (1-12, 0-1)
Saturday, Jan. 7 • 7 p.m. CT
American Bank Center (8,100) • Corpus Christi, Texas
RADIO: NewsRadio 1360 AM KKTX (Steven King)
LIVE STATS/VIDEO: GoIslanders.com
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team will look to get back in the win column on Saturday, Jan. 7, when it takes on McNeese State at the American Bank Center at 7 p.m. The Islanders have dropped 10 in a row since an overtime win over Utah State on Nov. 22, including a 74-58 defeat against Lamar in the Southland Conference opener between the two teams.
A&M - Corpus Christi got a career-high 13 points from Johnathan Jordan and 15 from Chris Hawkins-Mast against the Cardinals, but Southland Player of the Year candidate Mike James went off for a season-high 31 to lead Lamar to the win.
The Islanders will have to deal with another of the conference's most talented players with Patrick Richard coming to town with the Cowboys. Richard is second in the league with 16.3 points per game after being a First Team All-Southland selection a year ago. The Cowboys sit at 4-8 overall and are playing in their first league game on Saturday. McNeese has dropped six of its last seven heading into the matchup with the Islanders.
• Myron Dempsey has averaged 11.5 points and 9.3 boards over the last four games and has led the team in rebounding in six straight games.
• Johnathan Jordan scored a career-high 13 points, including seven free throws, against Lamar. He is second in the conference with 3.8 assists per game and is third on the Islanders in rebounds.
• Terence Jones snapped a string of 17 straight missed three-pointers when he buried his last attempt against Lamar. He had hit 16 of his last 25 before that.
• Nate Maxey set a new Islanders freshman record with his 23rd blocked shot of the season last game. He sits third in the Southland.
• The Islanders went 19-for-40 from inside the arc against Lamar and are 2-for-19 over the last two games from beyond it.
• Chris Hawkins-Mast played a career-high 37 minutes against Lamar on Wednesday and went 5-for-11 from the field.
LAST TIME OUT
Lamar's Mike James scored a season-high 31 points, and the Southland-leading Cardinals (10-5, 1-0 SLC) used hot outside shooting to knock off the Islanders 74-58 on Wednesday night at the American Bank Center. Chris Hawkins-Mast led the way for the Islanders (1-12, 0-1) with 15 points in the loss.
Johnathan Jordan finished in double figures with a career-high 13, adding three assists, four rebounds and two steals for the home squad. Nate Maxey had eight points and added three blocks, giving him 23 for the season, a new freshman record among Islanders. Myron Dempsey came up one point short of a double-double with nine points and 10 boards.
James went 12-for-16 from the field and added three steals, and the Cardinals finished the game hitting eight of their last 10 shots from distance. The Islanders won the battle of the boards, 39-35, in the contest.
SCOUTING THE COWBOYS
McNeese State has fallen in six of its last seven games, the lone victory an 86-45 win over Bacone College on Dec. 10. Most recently, the Cowboys fell to Southern Miss, 65-56 at McNeese's Burton Coliseum on New Year's Eve. On the road, the team has gone 1-7 with a win over Sacramento State.
MSU has been led by Southland Player of the Year candidate Patrick Richard, who has averaged 16.3 points per game, the second-highest pace in the conference. Jeremie Mitchell has also averaged in double figures with 11.6 points and has shot 39.2 percent from the outside. The Cowboys are shooting 28.6 percent from three.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Islanders have split the series with the Cowboys since Texas A&M - Corpus Christi restarted its athletics program in 1998. The Islanders have won both meetings at home, a 74-62 win on Jan. 6, 2007, and a 49-46 victory on Feb. 21, 2009.
The Islanders also knocked off the Cowboys en route to the 2007 Southland title, but have dropped all three contests in Lake Charles, including a 72-49 defeat to open conference play last season. The Cowboys have won the last two matchups between the two teams.
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 66-30 record playing at the ABC, including four seasons with at least nine wins there.
The Islanders have lost nine of the last 11 games downtown heading into tonight's affair, but the program posted one of its most momentous victories in the facility earlier this season. The Islanders' win over Utah State was the first of the Willis Wilson era and gave the Islanders a win over the Aggies, who went 30-4 in 2010-11.
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 second in the Southland Conference with his 7.9 rebounds per game after averaging 9.3 per game over his last four outings, three of which have seen him hit double digits. Forty-eight of his 103 boards have come in the offensive end, a league-best 3.7 per contest.
He has also heated up from the field as of late, posting 11.5 points every time out in the most recent quartet of contests. He has gone 20-for-34 (.588) from the field in the last four 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 117 points. Of those, 98 have come from in the paint, including 49 of his 51 field goals. The junior also has a team-leading 40 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.
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 49 assists and is second in the conference with 3.8 per game. He is also fourth in the league, averaing 1.4 steals every contest. His last time out, he had a career-high 13 points, including seven from the free-throw line.
He has enjoyed his trips to his hometown. In the Houston game, he filled the stat sheet, scoring eight points and leading the team with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. At Rice, he had seven points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Jordan, who has a 46-inch running vertical, won the Islanders slam-dunk contest in the preseason with a stellar two-handed jam.