SAM HOUSTON STATE (9-15, 3-7) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (4-19, 3-7)
Saturday, Feb. 11 • 1 p.m. CT
American Bank Center (8,100) • Corpus Christi, Texas
RADIO: NewsRadio 1360 AM KKTX (Steven King)
LIVE VIDEO/STATS: GoIslanders.com
THE OPENING TIP
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi returns to the friendly confines of Stripes Court at the American Bank Center for the first time in two weeks when it takes on Sam Houston State on Saturday at 1 p.m. The contest will be a crucial one in the Southland Conference standings, as the two squads are currently tied for seventh in the league, with six teams currently battling for the final two spots in the conference tournament.
Saturday's contest will also be the annual Hoops for Blue Scholars game, with every basket the Islanders score resulting in donations to the One Hundred Club Scholarship. The scholarship benefits Corpus Christi police officers and their family in earning an education at the Island University.
The Islanders have lost four in a row, including three losses on their recent week-long road trip. SHSU has lost five of six, dating back to the last time these two teams played in Huntsville on Jan. 21. The Islanders took that contest, 50-49, on a buzzer-beating jumper by Hameed Ali.
• In what was a lackluster performance for most of the team, Myron Dempsey had a strong contest at Savannah State. The junior had his third double-double of the season, scoring 14 points and snaring 11 boards. He is shooting .530 from the field in the last nine.
• Chris Hawkins-Mast had one of his best games in an Islanders uniform with 21 points and a career-best 16 boards on Feb. 4 at NW State. The 16 rebounds were the most since Demond Watt had 16 against Texas A&M last year.
• Terence Jones moved into 10th place on the Islanders' all-time scoring list (793) last time out. He has three 20-point games in his last five and has averaged 20.6 points over that span.
• Jason Smith had a career-best 12 points at Northwestern State, going 4-of-8 from the field.
• 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 poised to have an opportunity to break the school record for assists (Brian Evans, 132 in 2002-03). He became the 11th Islander to top 100 in a season last time out.
SCOUTING THE BEARKATS
Sam Houston State sits in a tie with the Islanders for seventh place in the Southland, with Saturday's contest being a significant one. The Islanders have already clinched the tiebreaker with the Bearkats, so a victory would give them a virtual two-game lead in the standings. SHSU has just three games left against West Division opponents this year.
Four players average in double figures for SHSU, with three-point specialist Konner Tucker leading the way at 12.0 per game. Marcus James (7.0) and Steven Werner (6.0) lead the team on the boards.
LAST TIME OUT
Three players finished in double figures for the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team, but Savannah State (14-10) forced 17 turnovers with its press defense to post a 55-49 victory over the Islanders on Monday at Tiger Arena. Myron Dempsey had a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards in the loss.
Hameed Ali scored 11 points and added a pair of steals for the Islanders (4-19). Terence Jones had a relatively quiet night with 10 points, but moved into 10th on the Islanders all-time scoring list, passing Aaron White (2002-06). The junior now has 793 points in his Islanders career.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Historically, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has struggled with Sam Houston State, holding a 5-9 record against the Bearkats in the Islanders era. The Islanders are even with SHSU at home, but in Johnson Coliseum, they are just 2-5.
Earlier this year, the Islanders overcame a 16-point second half deficit as Hameed Ali's jumper with 0.3 on the clock lifted them to a 50-49 win over SHSU. A&M - Corpus Christi also knocked off the Bearkats at Dugan Wellness Center last year, 70-68, in a game that featured 10 ties and 17 lead changes.
Junior Terence Jones etched his name in the school record book at Savannah State, as his 10 points moved him into 10th place on the Islanders all-time scoring list (793 points). He still needs 170 points to pass Thomas Bailey for ninth.
Recently, he has been red hot, posting three 20-point games in his last five. Jones netted a career-high 33 points against Texas State on 9-of-18 shooting and 13-of-14 from the line. The 33 points were the most by an Islanders player since Kevin Palmer scored 35 against UT Arlington on March 12, 2009.
He showed it was no fluke in the Stephen F. Austin contest, posting another 9-for-18 performance in which he scored 20 points. He added 21 at Northwestern State, going 5-of-7 from the outside, for his fourth 20-point outing of the season and the fifth of his career. He now sits in sixth in the conference at 14.3 points per contest.
Jones now has 131 career threes, putting him fourth in Islanders lore. He is only 38 away from the school record.
The Islanders recently wrapped up quite a journey last week, as they played three road games over a span of six days. It is also the middle of a stretch where they play five of six and seven of nine away from the Coastal Bend.
The Islanders covered 2,178 air miles in addition to 500-plus miles of bus travel (mostly between Thibodaux and Natchitoches) during the trip.
TWO THE HARD WAY
Junior college transfer Myron Dempsey has been an impact player on both ends for the Islanders this season. The long, athletic rebounder is currently third in the Southland Conference with his 7.7 rebounds per game.
On Monday against Savannah State, he snapped a cold string with his third double-double of the season, scoring 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and pulling down 11 rebounds. His finest outing of the season came in the upset win over Utah State, when he delivered a clutch double-double, scoring 16 points and snaring a career-high 15 caroms.
He is second on the team in blocks (20) and tied for the lead in steals (28) as well. He has also improved from the field over the last several games, going 35-for-66 (.530) the last nine contests after shooting just 5-for-19 over the prior two. He delivered a 6-for-11 performance from the field against Texas State, scoring 12 points and adding eight boards.
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 204 points. Of those, 158 (77 percent) have come from in the paint, including 79 of his 88 field goals. He hit two shots from outside the paint against Texas State, his only time this year with more than one.