'Jacks Venture West for Pre-Christmas Clash with Hurley's Arizon - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

'Jacks Venture West for Pre-Christmas Clash with Hurley's Arizona State Squad

From SFA Athletics 

NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release)

THE STARTING FIVE

• A pre-Christmas showdown in the desert for the Stephen F. Austin men’s basketball team sets the ‘Jacks - who are riding a five-game winning streak and owners of a 17-0 all-time December mark in the Brad Underwood coaching era - up with Arizona State in the third-ever meeting between the two schools.

• Tuesday’s tilt against the Sun Devils marks the ‘Jacks first meeting with a Pac-12 institution since their 2015 NCAA Tournament second-round matchup with Utah. The Utes ended SFA’s season in that bout via a 57-51 tally and advanced all the way to the Sweet 16.

•  In his third year at the helm of the ‘Jacks, Underwood embarks on a quest to capture his first-ever head coaching triumph over a Pac-12 representative. He’s 0-2 against educational institutions that fly the Pac-12 flag and SFA’s all-time mark against Pac-12 programs stands at 1-9. The lone win during those 10 showdowns came on 12/2/88 when the ‘Jacks took out Washington State 70-67 in Akron, Ohio, during the Zips Classic.

• Following a fifth-straight outing in which they forced 20 or more turnovers, the ‘Jacks have risen to the top of NCAA Division I men’s basketball in terms of turnover margin. Their figure of +8.5 is the best out of 351 DI squads.

• A win on Tuesday afternoon would signal SFA’s first road triumph of the 2015-16 campaign. The ‘Jacks are 0-2 in road tilts following losses at then-No. 22/21 ranked Baylor (11/13) and Northern Iowa (11/17) to open the season. Underwood is 24-7 as SFA’s bench boss in road confrontations.

SCOUTING THE SUN DEVILS

• Needing little to no introduction among longtime college basketball fans, Bobby Hurley is in his first year as Arizona State’s head coach following a pair of campaigns at the University of Buffalo in which he led the Bulls to a pair of MAC East Division crowns as well as the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history a season ago. Along with the likes of Christian Laettner, Grant Hill and under Mike Krzyzewski’s eye, Hurley and the Duke Blue Devils captured back-to-back national championships in 1991 and 1992.

• Following a season-opening 66-63 setback to Sacrameto State in Wells Fargo Arena, the Sun Devils have constructed a home winning stretch of five games which includes triumphs over then-No. 18-ranked Texas A&M and Southland Conference foe Houston Baptist (98-79). Their 98 points against the Huskies were the most scored by an ASU squad since 2009 when they hung 104 on San Francisco.

• Point guard Tra Holder has been busy making sure his name will be one of the most recognizable in the Pac-12 in the early stages of his sophomore campaign. The Sun Devils’ leading scorer in five of their 11 games this season, Holder leads ASU in both scoring (13.5 ppg) and assists (38, 3.5/game). 

• Hurley’s adjustments at halftime have helped the Sun Devils greatly as they average 40.4 points in the second half compared to 31.9 in the first. At UNLV on Dec. 16, ASU battled back from a 12-point second-half deficit to capture a 66-56 victory over the Runnin’ Rebels.

• For the past two games, the Sun Devils have been without the services of Savon Goodman, a former UNLV Runnin’ Rebel. The owner of the nation’s 27th-best field goal percentage (.608) and ASU’s leading rebounder (7.9 per game), Goodman’s absence has forced a re-shuffling of the Sun Devils’ lineup to include Andre Spight who has averaged 4.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in ASU’s previous pair of showdowns.

• All in all, ASU has compiled a record of 8-3. One of those three losses came at then-No. 5-ranked Kentucky (72-58, 12/12/15).

REVIEWING SFA vs. OUR LADY OF THE LAKE

• Breaking a basketball dry spell of over 41 years in Shelton Gymnasium, SFA bounded on to their home court from 1951-74 and issued a 95-56 throttling of Our Lady of the Lake. Some 635 individuals packed into the small facility to watch the ‘Jacks hold the NAIA Saints over 40 points below their season average (99.6 entering the game).

• Sophomore guard Ty Charles tied a career-high with 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting and added eight rebounds. It was the second effort of 20 or more markers for the Kennedale, Texas, product who secured preseason All-Southland Conference Second Team accolades this season. He was the only underclassman to appear on the 10-man listing.

• For the second-straight outing, senior Clide Geffrard submitted a double-double, this one consisting of 11 points and a game-best 10 rebounds. The ‘Jacks third-leading scorer (10.6 ppg), Geffrard has appeared in all 10 games for SFA, making a pair of starts in that stretch.

• Reaching the endpoint of his NCAA Division I preparation period, junior JaQuan Smith saw his first action in an SFA uniform on Saturday evening. The 6’9 forward notched four points on 2-for-2 shooting and adds some depth to the ‘Jacks front court rotation.

• Having passed out 324 assists, the fourth-highest total in SFA’s NCAA Division I history, senior Trey Pinkney added three steals on Saturday to bring his career total to 118. With two more, he will rise to sixth place all-time in SFA’s DI history.

• All 11 points scored by freshman TJ Holyfield came in the second half - and on the strength of a 5-for-6 shooting outing. It was the fifth double-digit scoring effort for the forward out of Albuquerque, N.M., which ranks as the fourth-highest number of 10+ point scoring efforts among SFA this season behind Thomas Walkup (eight), Demetrious Floyd (six) and Clide Geffrard (six).

• In the win, SFA connected on over 50-percent of its field goal tries for the second time in 2015-16. The first game in which the ‘Jacks drilled shots at a rate north of 50-percent this season came against Appalachian State in Nashville, Tenn., in a 94-84 SFA win on 11/29.

A HIGH RATE OF TURNOVER

• Perhaps not the tallest or the fastest team in the nation, the ‘Jacks have been making quite an excellent basketball living thriving off of their defense which is - literally - the best or near the best in the nation in some categories.

• In their 10 games this season, the ‘Jacks have forced 205 turnovers which works out to an average of 20.5 opponent throwaways per game. Just one team - Bob Huggins’ West Virgnia Mountaineers - have a higher forced turnover figure (22.3) in all of NCAA Division I basketball. When Underwood was the director of basketball operations in Kansas State in 2006, he served under Huggins, who was the Wildcats’ head coach at the time.

• Conversely, SFA has tossed the ball away just 120 times (12 per game) this season. The ‘Jacks turnover margin of +8.5 is the highest in the nation.

• In the latest NCAA Division I men’s basketball statistical rankings, SFA broke into the top 30 in terms of assist to turnover ration. It’s Southland Conference-leading figure of 1.48 is currently the 28th-best number in all the land.

17 AND OH-OH-OH

• With Brad Underwood at the helm of the ‘Jacks, the month of December has yielded nothing but wins. In the two-plus seasons since Underwood’s installation as the 11th head coach in program history, SFA has rolled to a 17-0 record in the month of December which includes an 13-0 mark at home. 

GOOD WORK LEADS TO GOOD WORKS

• In early December, senior Thomas Walkup became one of 154 men’s basketball players from NCAA Division I, II, III and the NAIA to be nominated for the 2016 Allstate National Basketball Coaches Association (NABC) Good Works Team. The five-man Division I team, which will be revealed in February, will be comprised of student-athletes who make the greatest contributions in the areas of volunteerism and civic involvement. Walkup is one of just two Southland Conference student-athletes who receive nominations, the other being Northwestern State’s Jalan West.

MOVIN’ ON UP

• The destination isn’t the east side, nor is it a deluxe apartment in the sky for SFA head coachBrad Underwood - it’s sixth place on the all-time coaching wins leaderboard for the ‘Jacks third-year head man. With 11 more victories, Underwood will surpass Ned Fowler’s 78 career wins and sit right in the middle of the 11-man all-time coaching wins chart.

DELTA DELTA DELTA

• The fourth letter in the Greek alphabet has three sides, and three is a number the ‘Jacks have molded a big part of their offense around. Once again, the three-pointer is being utilized as a primary weapon for SFA. Of their 769 points scored, 219 of them - or 28.5-percent - have come by way of the long-range basket. On average, SFA hits 7.3 long balls per tilt which is the second-best per-game figure in the Southland Conference.

CAN I HELP YA, HELP YA, HELP YA?

• One season ago, no team in NCAA Division I men’s basketball was more comfortable sharing the rock than the Lumberjacks as SFA led the nation in assists per game (17.8 per game) and that trend hasn’t changed a bit in 2015-16. As of this writing, SFA is second in the 13-team Southland Conference and 25th in the land with an assists per game average of 17.8.

FROM ALMOST ZERO TO HERO

• Rightfully described as a self-made player so many times throughout his career, seniorThomas Walkup has a pair of All-American nods to his credit as well as a 2014-15 Southland Conference Player of the Year citation. This comes after the Pasadena, Texas, product received only two offers following his pre-collegiate career. Currently, Walkup ranks among the top ten in the Southland Conference in no fewer than eight statistical categories. His 15.6 point per game leads SFA and his .575 field goal percentage ranks 53rd among all NCAA Division I players while his 2.1 steals per game is the 40th-best in DI.

HALF-LIFE 2

• A setback to Tulane on Friday, Nov. 27 marked just the second time in Brad Underwood’s SFA tenure that the ‘Jacks lost a game in which they were leading at the half. The only other time SFA fell while up on the soreboard at halftime in the Underwood era was in his third game as the ‘Jacks bench boss when SFA fell to Texas in Austin. Underwood is 56-2 (.966) at SFA when leading at the half.

UP TO THE CHALLENGE

• By leading the ‘Jacks to a 2-1 record at the Challenge in Music City, senior Thomas Walkupwas placed on the all-tournament team. Over the course of that three-game stretch, the Pasadena, Texas, product averaged 15 points, 6.3 rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block per game all while shooting 54.8-percent from the field.

MID-MAJOR MARVEL

• At no point through the relatively short course of the 2015-16 campaign has SFA been absent from the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll. In the preseason list, the ‘Jacks were ranked fourth and as of this writing SFA is the 16th-best mid-major squad in the land. Various mid-major coaches around the United States vote on the poll which is released each week through 2015-16.

WALKUP NAMED SLC POW ON 11/23

• Monday, Nov. 23, saw the Southland Conference pencil in SFA senior Thomas Walkup as its Player of the Week. It signaled the first such honor for the Pasadena, Texas, product in the young season and his third selection since the beginning of the 2014-15 campaign. In the ‘Jacks 1-1 week, Walkup averaged 26 points per tilt on the strength of 58.8-percent field goal shooting. Currently, the SLC statistics charts list Walkup as the owner of the league’s fourth-best scoring average (16.3 ppg), fifth-best rebounding figure (6.9/game), sixth-highest assists per game mark (4.6/game) as well as the fourth-highest field goal percentage (.578).

ASSOCIATED WITH THE BEST

• In the inaugural 2015-16 version of the AP Poll, the Stephen F. Austin men’s basketball team secured a pair of votes, tying them with Ohio State and Belmont for 43rd in the nation according to the prognosticators. The two votes double the number SFA received at that same point a season ago.

HOLY HOLYFIELD!

• It probably hasn’t taken all that long for SFA’s opponents to figure out that ‘Jack freshman TJ Holyfield will be one of the driving forces for SFA all the way through the 2015-16 campaign.

• Of the 15 freshman Brad Underwood has had on his rosters during his two-plus seasons as SFA’s head man, none have put up better numbers than Holyfield. The Albuquerque, N.M., product is averaging 9.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocked shots all while shooting 35-67 (.522) from the field and 6-12 (.500) from long-ball territory. Holyfield is also the only freshman in Underwood’s tenure at SFA to start his first 10 games.

• When stacked up against all other freshman student-athletes in the Southland Conference, Holyfield ranks fourth in scoring (9.4 ppg), second in field goal percentage (.522), second in blocked shots (1.4/game) and first in offensive rebounds (2.2/game).

• No individual - freshman through senior - has matched Holyfield’s hot start from long-range territory through the opening stretch of the season. His 50-percent (6-for-12) clip from downtown is tops in the 13-team league.

GEFFRARD BIG OFF THE BENCH 

• A memorable three-game stretch in Nashville by senior Clide Geffrard only served to validate his status as one of the best off the bench in the Southland Conference. Against Western Michigan, the Pompano Beach, Fla., product reset his career high by slinging in 21 points in the ‘Jacks win over the Broncos. The next evening against Tulane, he conjured up a 20-point, eight-rebound outing. That marked his first back-to-back stretch of scoring 20+ points in his SFA career. When diving deeper into the numbers, Geffrard has thrived coming off the bench in an SFA uniform. In five career starts as a ‘Jack, Geffrard has drilled just seven of his 34 field goal attempts (.206 shooting percentage). When the forward steps foot on any court off the bench, he has shot .533 (120-225) and contributed 9.8 points per game to the ‘Jacks cause.

PINKNEY CLIMBS THE CHARTS

• So far in his career, senior Trey Pinkney has passed out 324 assists.Against LSU-Shreveport, the Katy, Texas, product became just the seventh player in program history to notch 300 career helpers. His 324 assists rank fourth all-time in SFA’s NCAA Division I history. Additionally, Pinkney’s 118 steals are seventh-all time on SFA’s DI charts and he needs just two more thefts to move up to sixth place. 

NO BAD LOSSES

• Stephen F. Austin has found itself with fewer points than its opponent just eight times in the last two seasons, and those losses came against some quality opponents. Four of the Lumberjacks’ five losses in 2014-15 came at the hands of eventual NCAA tournament teams. SFA dropped a 79-77 overtime heartbreaker against Northern Iowa on November 18 as part of the ESPN 24-Hour Tipoff, then dropped an 81-63 decision at Xavier (November 21), a 67-51 defeat at Baylor (November 24) and a 57-50 setback to Utah in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This season, two of the ‘Jacks three setbacks have come at the hands of Baylor and Northern Iowa.

SKIP TO MY LOU (HENSON)

• Coming off a campaign that saw him collect AP Honorable Mention All-America accolades and Lou Henson All-American honors, senior Thomas Walkup has been selected as a preseason All-American by the Lou Henson Award committee. The Pasadena, Texas, product enters his final collegiate campaign after a breakout junior year in which he led SFA in scoring (15.6 ppg), rebounding (6.5/game) and field goal percentage (.567).

SOUTHLAND SUPREMACY

• SFA laid claim to two of the Southland Conference’s major award winners in 2014-15 asThomas Walkup was named the SLC Player of the Year and Brad Underwood repeating as the conference’s Coach of the Year. Walkup, the third-straight Lumberjack to be named SLC Player of the Year, was also an All-Defensive team selection for the second time while Jacob Parker, the 2014 SLC Player of the Year, was a second team All-SLC selection.

THE (SECOND) BEST LITTLE BASKETBALL TEAM IN TEXAS

• Since the 2000-01 season, just one other NCAA Division I institution has succeeded in producing more triumphs or a better winning percentage than the Lumberjacks. In the past 15 years, SFA is the owner of a 285-148 record which works out to a winning percentage of .658. The only school in the state to produce better numbers in that time has been Texas (347-148, .701 win %).

BIRMINGHAM BREAKDOWN

• Following the cheer of the holiday season, SFA will close out its 2015-16 non-conference regular season slate by matching basketball wits against 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament entrant UAB in Birmigham. The Blazers knocked off third-seeded Iowa State in the tourney last season. Tip-off between the pair of 2015 tourney teams will take place at 2:30 p.m. central time.

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