Men's Basketball Welcomes First-Place Demons Tuesday Night
ISLANDERS (4-19, 3-10) VS. NORTHWESTERN STATE (18-6, 12-2)
TUESDAY, FEB. 19 • 7:30 P.M.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS • AMERICAN BANK CENTER
RADIO: NEWSRADIO 1360 KKTX (YANNIS KOUTROUPIS)
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team returns to the American Bank Center for a matchup with Northwestern State on Tuesday at 7:30. This will be the first of two meetings between the Islanders and the fast-paced Demons.
• The Islanders have one of the youngest teams in Division I, with an average age of 20 years, five months, 17 days heading into today's matchup. There are no seniors on the team.
• Johnathan Jordan is the only player in the Southland – and one of just five nationally – to average 10-plus points, 5-plus rebounds, and 5-plus assists on the year. He is only 10 points away from 500 in his career.
• The Islanders defense held ORU to just six second-half field goals, including a span of 11:14 without a field goal against.
• Hameed Ali scored a career-high 18 points to go with six assists and three steals at UCA. He is averaging 14.7 points over the last three games.
• The Islanders' bench has averaged 26.3 points over its last four games. The bench has shot 40-for-100 (.400) over the four-game span.
• The Islanders have held a second-half lead in eight of their 12 league contests this season, including four straight.
• Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is ineligible for the postseason because of poor results in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate. No Islander who has played under Wilson had anything to do with the subpar score.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi will take on Northwestern State for the eighth time in the Islanders era on Tuesday, with A&M - Corpus Christi holding a 4-3 lead. Each team holds a 2-1 advantage on the road, with the Islanders going 1-2 against the Demons in the Coastal Bend. The Islanders also tallied a victory over Northwestern State in the Southland Conference Championship Game in 2007.
Last year, in the lone meeting between the two teams, the Islanders fell in Natchitoches to the Demons, 82-68. Chris Hawkins-Mast and Terence Jones each had 21 points in a losing effort, but a 15-1 run that wrapped around halftime led the Demons to the victory. For a full recap and box score, turn to page 2 of the notes.
SCOUTING THE DEMONS
The Demons come into the game as the number one offense in the nation at 84.1 points per contest. Northwestern State plays a high-pace offense that has led it to outscore its opposition by 11.7 points per game. The Demons play a full slate of players, with nine men having played in all 24 games and one other having played in 23. The Demons are also tied for the conference lead with Stephen F. Austin at 12-2
The team's leading scorer, DeQuan Hicks, is scoring 14.4 points per game and snaring 6.1 rebounds per game. The amazing part of that is that Hicks has not started a single game. Shamir Davis has added 12.8 points, James Hulbin 12.3 and point guard Jalan West 10.1. West is also third in the conference, just behind Johnathan Jordan, with his 5.0 assists per game. Hulbin has added a team-best 6.2 rebounds for the squad, which sits atop the Southland at 41.3 boards per contest.
He's only a sophomore, but Houston native Johnathan Jordan has been thrust into the role of leader on the young Islanders squad. Jordan led the Southland in assists per game in 2011-12, and was also among the leaders in minutes per game.
Jordan was outstanding as a distributor a season ago, but his growth as a scorer is notable. After averaging 6.5 points last year, the point guard has contributed 12.8 points per game, largely on his ability to get to the rim and the free-throw line. Despite his 5-foot-10 frame, he leads the team with 146 points in the paint and has hit a team-best 106 free throws, including a 12-for-13 performance at the line against McNeese. His 12 free throws are tied for fourth-most in a game in Islanders history and he recently cracked the single-season top 10 in the category.
Perhaps more impressive is Jordan's all-around game. His distribution is what he is most known for, and with 5.3 assists per game this year, he sits second in the Southland. He is already in the single-season top five in assists and is on pace to break his own school record of 138, set last season. In league play, he has 77 assists to 33 turnovers.
Jordan is also strong on the glass, having topped double-digit rebounds twice this season. He snared 11 caroms against SHSU for his third double-double of the year. He is one of just five players nationally averaging at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists. He shows high on the stamina scale as well, where he is second in the Southland at 36.0 minutes per game.
The diminutive guard is one of the most athletic Islanders, as evidenced by his two slam-dunk contest championships, thanks to his 48-inch running vertical leap.
One of the primary reasons for the Islanders' improvement in offensive efficiency has been the youngest member of last year's freshman class. Hameed Ali showed flashes of being a strong player for the Islanders in 2011-12, delivering game-winning shots against Sam Houston State and Utah State.
But Ali, who turned 19 in August, has shown significant growth in his maturity, particularly as a vocal leader for the Islanders. Formerly one of the most shy members of the team, Ali has become a constant voice in practice – whether he is on the court or on the sidelines.
Ali has had his two best offensive games of the season in the last 10 days, netting 15 points against McNeese State and following that up with a career-high 18 at UCA. Against the Bears, he went 7-for-10 from the field and added six assists and three steals. He added 11 points at Oral Roberts, the second-best mark on the team. Over the three games he is averaging 14.7 points and shooting 16-for-31.
The sophomore started the season among the national leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio, and now has 46 assists to 29 turnovers. He leads the team and is seventh in the league with his 1.6 steal average.
Over the last four games, the Islanders have had strong performances off their bench. The bench had 32 points against Lamar, 26 against McNeese and then 34 in the UCA contest. The bench has shot 40-for-100 (.400) over the four-game span. Joy Williamson leads the team with 38 points off the bench in the last four, with Nate Maxey just behind at 19.