TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (4-17, 3-6) AT NORTHWESTERN STATE (13-9, 6-2)
Saturday, Feb. 4 • 2 p.m. CT
Prather Coliseum (3,400) • Natchitoches, La.
THE OPENING TIP
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi encounters the middle contest of its three-game road trip on Wednesday, Feb. 4, when it faces Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. CT, in an afternoon contest. Steven King will have the call starting at 1:45 with the pregame on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX and online at GoIslanders.com.
The Islanders are coming off a disappointing 65-61 loss to Nicholls on Wednesday night. A&M - Corpus Christi had a strong night shooting the basketball, going 22-of-53 from the field, but the Colonels were able to cash in on their opportunities to emerge victorious. The Islanders have lost back-to-back games after winning two in a row last week.
Northwestern State comes into Saturday's matinee with a 13-9 overall record and a 6-2 mark in Southland play. The Demons have won four straight contests after dropping consecutive conference affairs, and sit atop the East Division in a tie with McNeese. NSU holds the tiebreaker with the Cowboys thanks to a 64-61 win.
• Terence Jones has averaged 23 points over the last three games and has gone 24-of-47 from the floor. He scored a career-high 33 points against Texas State on 9-of-18 shooting and a 13-of-14 outing at the line. It was the most points by an Islander since Kevin Palmer scored 35 against UT Arlington on March 12, 2009.
• The Islanders' "big three" scorers – Terence Jones, Chris Hawkins-Mast and Myron Dempsey – scored 62 of the team's 74 points against Texas State and 36 of the 49 against SFA. Over the last three contests, they have netted 75 percent of the Islanders' points.
• A&M – Corpus Christi had one of its best shooting nights of the year at Nicholls. The team was at 50 percent or better for the second time. It is the only game where the Islanders hit 45 percent both halves.
• Texas A&M – Corpus Christi has overcome large second-half deficits in each of its last two wins. The Islanders came back from down 16 points (40-24) with 15 minutes left against Sam Houston, and rallied from a 10-point deficit (58-48) with 10 remaining against Texas State.
• Freshman Johnathan Jordan is on pace to have an opportunity to break the school record for assists (Brian Evans, 132 in 2002-03). He leads the league with 4.4 assists per game overall and is on pace for 132.
SCOUTING THE DEMONS
Northwestern State sits atop the East Division of the Southland with a 6-2 league record. Winners of four in a row, the Demons are 3-1 in league play at Prather Coliseum. Their lone loss came at the hands of Central Arkansas, while NSU holds wins over Texas State, Lamar and Southeastern Louisiana at home.
The Demons' running style has led them to 71.3 points per game and four different players averaging at least nine points. William Mosley has been one of the top players in the league this season, as he averages 11.0 points and 9.8 rebounds in addition to his 96 blocks, which places him second in the nation in swats per game (4.3).
LAST TIME OUT
Nicholls got a career-high 23 points from Dantrell Thomas and 18 from Sam McBeath in posting a 65-61 victory over the Islanders on Wednesday night at Stopher Gym. Terence Jones (18) and Chris Hawkins-Mast (13) finished in double figures for the Islanders.
A&M – Corpus Christi (4-17, 3-6 Southland) had one of its best shooting nights of the year, going 21-of-41 from the floor (51.2 percent) and 15-of-21 from the free-throw line (71.4 percent), but Nicholls (6-15, 2-7) brought a strong offensive night as well. The Colonels shot 42.3 percent from the field.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi holds an edge in the series with the Demons, 4-2. Intriguing as it is, the Islanders have taken both meetings in Natchitoches in addition to a win in the Southland Conference Tournament, but are just 1-2 at home. Last year, the Demons spoiled the Islanders' Homecoming with a 72-66 win. The last game in Prather Coliseum saw the Islanders take a 69-68 win in 2009 with a Kevin Palmer layup at the buzzer.
The Islanders are amidst quite a journey ahead of them over the next week, as they have three road games over a span of six days. It is also the beginning of a stretch where they play five of six and seven of nine away from the Coastal Bend.
The Islanders will cover 2,178 air miles in addition to 500-plus miles of bus travel (mostly between Thibodaux and Natchitoches) during this trip. This road swing rivals the Islanders' ventures in the Las Vegas Classic, with four games in seven days.
Junior Terence Jones had delivered some big games this year, but against Texas State, he shifted into another gear. Playing in front of his son (Terence III) for the first time in Corpus Christi, the elder Terence netted a career-high 33 points on 9-of-18 shooting and 13-of-14 from the free-throw line.
The 33 points were the most by an Islanders player since Kevin Palmer scored 35 against UT Arlington on March 12, 2009, in the Southland Conference Tournament. Most impressive was the manner in which he scored his 33, as he did much of his damage on the drive as opposed to from the outside. He went 7-for-11 inside the arc and also used his drive to get to the stripe, where he came up just three FT shy of the school record.
He showed it was no fluke in the Stephen F. Austin contest, posting another 9-for-18 performance in which he scored 20 points for his third 20-point outing of the season and the fourth of his career. He now sits in seventh in the conference at 14.2 points per contest.
Jones now has 123 career threes, putting him fourth in Islanders lore. He is still over 40 away from the school record. Here is the all-time top five in the category:
THE BIG THREE
In the Islanders' win over Texas State, the top three scorers – Terence Jones, Chris Hawkins-Mast and Myron Dempsey – carried the lion's share of the load on the offensive end. The three combined to go 20-of-39 (the rest of the team was 3-of-18) and scored 62 of the team's 74 points. They also did the bulk of their damage in close, as they combined for 30 of the Islanders' 32 points in the paint.
Against Stephen F. Austin, the trio had 36 of the Islanders' 49 points, then at Nicholls netted 40 of 61 and went 15-of-25 in the game. Over the last three, the threesome has scored 75 percent of the team's points.