With veteran leadership benched, SFA looking to new faces for continued success

Miami offers first NCAA test of the season

With veteran leadership benched, SFA looking to new faces for continued success

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Familiar faces are missing from the court for the SFA Lumberjacks.

With veteran leadership benched, SFA looking to new faces for continued success

Three of the core pieces head coach Kyle Keller hoped to have back have been dealing with injuries. Aaron Augustine has an injured arm but should be making a return by the end of November. John Comeaux is out f action but has started practicing and Keller is optimistic that a return will happen. The hearty of the team, TJ Holyfield is out for the season. With those productive players all in dress clothes on the bench, players that were previously coming in off the bench are now being relied upon.

The Jacks won their first two games like everyone thought they would but not by the score margin everyone thought they would. In their second games of the year, a controversial foul call sent the Jacks to the line with 2 seconds left and the team pulled out a 68-67 win over Southwestern Assemblies of God University out of the NAIA.

“We have to get better every day,” assistant head coach Jeremy Cox said. “I don’t think it is back to the drawing board or time to his the reset button. This is a very young team. It has a lot of new parts. Shannon Bogues is still playing the point with Augustine out. Holyfiled is gone for the year from our interior game. We are hurting on defense with Comeaux out. He is one of the best and you can see we miss him. We have a lot of young talented athletes and they have to learn a new system."

The team will have their first true NCAA test on Tuesday night when the take on the University of Miami.

“I think now looking at it we would have wanted this game in December like we did with LSU last year,” Cox said. “But it is not about that final score for us. It is about getting better each day. Right now we are clicking on three of five cylinders. Last year we were clicking on 12-13 with the way our bench played. “right now we got guys in the right possesion not playing hard enough. We got guys playing hard enough but not in the right position. That is really hard to do and think. When you think it makes your feet slow.”

Both SFA and Miami were in the NCAA Tournament last year and both teams played in Dallas for round 1.

Below are the offical game notes provided by SFA Athletics:

THE STARTING FIVE

• A pair of undefeated teams are set to clash inside the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Fla., Tuesday evening when SFA does battle with ACC adversary rv/rv Miami at 6:00 p.m. CT. ESPNU will carry the first-ever matchup between the 'Jacks and Hurricanes with Anish Shroff and Cory Alexander delivering the commentary. Fans looking for an SFA-centric broadcast can tune to Q107.7 in Nacogdoches or go to the TuneIn app to find the radio broadcast given by noted smooth talker and longtime SFA play-by-play man Rob Meyers.

• Tuesday's tilt pits SFA against an ACC institution for just the third time in program history and is the first regular-season battle between the 'Jacks and a member of the 15-team league. Both of the 'Jacks' previous engagements against ACC foes came in the NCAA Tournament - first against Syracuse in the first round of the 2009 tournament (a 59-44 by the Orange in the opening round in Miami, Fla.) and the most recent against Notre Dame in the second round of the 2016 dance (a 76-75 victory by the Fighting Irish in Brooklyn, N.Y.).

• Thrust into the point guard role due to a number of injuries that have riddled the 'Jacks' roster so far this season, senior guard Shannon Bogues has done an admirable job of becoming a smooth passer in addition to a high-volume scorer. The Killeen, Texas, native leads the 'Jacks in both scoring (15.5 ppg) and assists per game (7.0). His assists average is the best in the Southland Conference while his 14 total assists are the 13th-most in the land at the moment.

• Through the first two games of the season, SFA has done a good job of keeping its opponents off of the glass. The 'Jacks lead the Southland in rebounding defense, having let up only 23.5 boards per game SFA ranks third in the Southland with a collective field goal percentage of .479 through the first two games of the season.

• SFA's showdown at rv/rv Miami represents the team's first road action of 2018-19. Since 2011-12, the 'Jacks have accumulated 64 wins in true road games - the third-most in the nation in that span. Only Wichita State (66) and Bucknell (65) have more than SFA.

WE JUST CROSSED PATHS FOR A MOMENT

• SFA and rv/rv Miami's 2017-18 seasons ended on the same day in the same building. On Thursday, March 15, 2018, the Hurricanes dropped a 64-62 decision to eventual Final Four participant Loyola-Chicago at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. In that tilt, the Ramblers' Donte Ingram sank a buzzer-beating three-pointer to start the mid-major's improbable run to college basketball's biggest stage. Hours later, SFA fell 70-60 to eventual Elite Eight participant Texas Tech.

SCOUTING MIAMI | ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATISTICS

• Wanting to test themselves in the early portion of their non-conference schedule, the Hurricanes' first three games are against opponents that have been picked to win their respective conferences. Those teams are Lehigh (Patriot League), SFA (Southland) and Bethune-Cookman (MEAC).

• All five of the Hurricanes' starters registered at least 10 points in the team's season-opening victory over Lehigh last Friday night. Miami, which was picked to finish 10th in the ACC, was led by sophomore guard Chris Lykes who netted a game-high 22 points. Miami took just as many three-pointers as free throws (32) and finished +1 (45-44) on the glass.

• One of three seniors on the team, Anthony Lawrence II turned in a 19-point, 12-rebound double-double in the Hurricanes' opener. Last season, Lawrence averaged 8.8 points and 6.5 rebounds, ranking second on the team in terms of rebounding.

• Two of the Hurricanes' top three long range threats from the previous season return to Coral Gables in 2018-19. Lykes (48-139, .345) ranked third on the team in three-pointers made last season while team leader Dejan Vasiljevic (67-163, .411) topped Miami's charts in both three-pointers made and three-point field goal percentage in 2017-18.

• In its season opener against Lehigh, 50.6-percent of Miami's points came from the three-point shot. The Hurricanes connected on 14 of their 32 tries from downtown and got four long range hits from Lawrence, Lykes and Vasiljevic. Those 14 three-pointers were three fewer than the Hurricanes' single-game record.

LAST TIME OUT

• It wasn't without drama - quite the opposite, in fact - but SFA managed to get by Southwestern Assemblies of God last Thursday night inside William R. Johnson Coliseum to improve to 2-0 for the second-straight season and the second time in Kyle Keller's two-plus seasons at the helm of the Lumberjack program.

• Freshman guard Oddyst Walker has started his collegiate career 0-for-7 from the field but it was his first collegiate free throw make that lifted the 'Jacks to victory. The Baton Rouge, La., product stepped to the free throw line with 2.1 seconds remaining in regulation and hit the first of his two tries to provide the game-winning point. That free throw make represented Walker's first collegiate point.

• After spring for 21 in SFA's season opener last Tuesday night, senior guard Shannon Bogues turned in a shooting line of just 3-for-10 and netted 10 points. It was the passing of the Killeen, Texas, product, however, that helped SFA win the day. Bogues passed out a season and career-high eight assists for the 'Jacks.

• Getting his second-straight start of the season, junior guard/forward Kevon Harris was SFA's best offensive performer. The Ellenwood, Ga., product netted a team-high 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting and was one of three 'Jacks who finished in double digits in the scoring department. Harris and freshman Mitchell Seraille tied for second on the team with six rebounds.

• For the second time in as many games, junior forward Nathan Bain served as another bright spot for SFA. The Freeport, Bahamas, product led the 'Jacks in rebounding by snaring a game-high seven boards. Additionally, Bain turned in another 10-point effort - the second of his career and his second in as many games. Those 10 points matched a career-best for Bain.

•Junior guard Rance Cole was able to score his first basket in an SFA uniform during the 'Jacks' triumph over the Lions. Cole connected on a layup in the second half and went on to finsh 1-of-2 from the field in seven minutes of action. Thursday's game was just the second Cole has taken part in during his Lumberjack career.

• Seraille did foul out of the game on Thursday, but not before putting in six points. Two of the freshman's field goal makes were dunks and through his first two games as a collegian three of his five field goals have been dunks, including the first of his career.

• SFA trailing by as many as 10 points in Thursday night's showdown with the Lions, making Southwestern Assemblies of God the first team to hold a double-digit lead over SFA inside William R. Johnson Coliseum since Lamar did so on February 24, 2018. It also marked the first time SFA came back from a deficit of 10 or more points to win a home game since Nov. 26, 2017, when the 'Jacks battled back from 11 points down to score a 79-63 win over Florida A&M.

• Though the 'Jacks forced some 20 turnovers, they were able to score only nine points off of them. It marked just the second time over the last 37 games in which SFA scored fewer than 10 points off of opponent turnovers. The first time in that span came on Feb. 24, 2018, when SFA netted only eight points off of opponent throwaways in a 71-66 home setback to Southland Conference foe Lamar.

• SFA used its second different stanting lineup of the season in the win, starting junior forward Samuli Nieminen in favor of senior center Jovan Grujic. In his first start of the season, the Helsinki, Finland, product put in three points and added a trio of rebounds.

• Bench scoring was an element of SFA's game that helped lift the 'Jacks to quite a few wins one season ago, but production from the reserves was somewhat lacking in Thursday night's win. SFA got just 26.4-percent of its total offense from its group of reserves.

• Both of SFA's first two opponents were ranked among the top 25 in the NAIA National Poll. Texas Wesleyan entered the season ranked 11th nationally in the poll while Southwestern Assemblies of God was ranked 18th headed into the 2018-19 campaign.

• SFA's one-point margin of victory over the Lions was the team's smallest margin of victory in a home game since March 2, 2013. That day, the 'Jacks got by Southland

COMING UP NEXT

• One week will elapse before the 'Jacks hit the court again once the final buzzer sounds at the Watsco Center Tuesday night. Once they get back on the court, however, the 'Jacks will do so in Nacogdoches, Texas, to do battle with Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based Marist. The Red Foxes out of the MAAC make their first-ever trip to William R. Johnson Coliseum for a 7:30 p.m. showdown with SFA on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

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