From SFA Athletics
NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release)
THE STARTING FIVE
• Two of the three 7-0 Southland Conference squads are set squarely on a collision course with one another as the Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team (14-5, 7-0 SLC) makes for Corpus Christi, Texas, with intentions to extend its conference unbeaten streak to 16 games and to hand the Islanders (16-3, 7-0 SLC) their first league and home setbacks of the 2015-16 campaign. The Islanders, however, are on a quest to become the first SLC team to best the Lumberjacks in back-to-back encounters since Sam Houston State accomplished that feat back in 2011. Once the game tips off at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at the American Bank Center (8,100), fans around the globe can follow every second of the action on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app. On the call will be Lincoln Rose and Jim Haller will be providing analysis on the video broadcast, but for SFA fans wishing to listen to a voice more familiar to their ears, Rob Meyers' robust baritone description of the on-court action will be accessible on Q107.7 or at q1077.com.
• If the 'Jacks can avenge last seasons loss to the Islanders in the American Bank Center, it would up their Southland Conference record to 8-0 for the third-straight season. In its program history, the 'Jacks have only started SLC play with an 8-0 record on three occasions. Two of those three 8-0 starts have occurred with Brad Underwood at the helm of the program with the other taking place in 2002-03 under the watchful eye of Danny Kaspar.
• Senior Thomas Walkup needs to corral just one more rebound to move up to second place in career rebounding in the 'Jacks NCAA Division I history. The reigning Southland Conference Player of the Year has amassed 637 rebounds in his collegiate career and will become the program's all-time rebounding leader in the DI era if he ups his total number of caroms gathered to 685.
• Since Underwood accepted employment as the 11th head coach in SFA history prior to the 2013-14 campaign, the 'Jacks have never lost a game in the month of January. With Underwood at the helm of the program, SFA is 23-0 in all January tilts.
• Currently, the 'Jacks are riding a season-long seven-game winning streak which is the fourth-longest unbeaten stretch in Brad Underwood's two-plus seasons in SFA's center seat. Underwood has uncorked winning streaks of 29, 19 and nine games through the course of his first NCAA Division I head coaching assignment.
SCOUTING THE ISLANDERS
• What Texas A&M-Corpus Christi head coach Willis Wilson was talking about when he rejoined the NCAA Division I head coaching ranks in 2011 was transforming the Islanders into a perennial contender both at the conference and national level. The Islanders' fifth-year head man is well on his way to accomplishing that goal as is currently the only Southland Conference head coach to outwit SFA since Brad Underwood took over as the 'Jacks head coach.
• Both the coaches and sports information personnel around the league envisioned a third-place finish for the Islanders when the preseason SLC polls were released, but as the season has unraveled it has become abundantly clear that the Islanders will be firmly in the running for the league's crown, tournament title and NCAA Tournament berth.
• Off to their best start in school history, the only three losses on the Islanders' 2015-16 docket are to Texas A&M, Texas and Wisconsin. Two of those squads appeared in the 2015 NCAA Tournament and Texas A&M currently ranks fifth in both the AP and USA Today Coaches polls.
• Wilson's senior-laden roster is formed of a gang of individuals that each have some of the most gaudy statistical numbers in both the Southland Conference and the nation. It all starts in the paint with junior Rashawn Thomas who has proven himself as a potent scorer, high-flying rebounder and fierce rim protector. The native of Oklahoma City, Okla., leads the 13-team league in rebounding (8.6/game) and blocked shots (2.4/game) and his 17.6 points per game is the third-best scoring average in the SLC.
•Thievery is the specialty of the Islanders backcourt pair of Hameed Ali and Ehab Amin. Ali ranks fourth in the nation and leads the SLC with 2.79, and Amin isn't too far behind his counterpart as his 2.37 thefts per outing are second in the league and 15th among all NCAA Division I men's basketball players. An excellent distributor, the senior Ali is the second-leading assist producer in the league with a per-game average of 5.9.
• Deadeye long-range specialist Brandon Pye can knock down the three-pointer with the best of them. The final-year man is hitting 43.5-percent of his tries from that distance and his 2.6 downtown swishes per outing is the fourth-best average in the league.
• Another senior, Bryce Douvier, has been patrolling the painted area with Thomas and snaring 6.4 rebounds per game. In truth, any member of the Islanders roster can go off at any given time as they have had seven different players lead them in scoring at least once in their 19 contests this season.
REVIEWING SFA vs. LAMAR
• Dispelling any and all worries of a post-rivalry tilt hangover, the 'Jacks routed Lamar, 86-52, on Monday night in William R. Johnson Coliseum behind a game-high 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting from senior Thomas Walkup and another 20 markers off the still-scorching mitts of final-year sharpshooter Demetrious Floyd.
• SFA had very little trouble putting the ball in the basket as it drilled 62.1-percent (26-of-58) of its field goal attempts. Monday night marked the sixth-straight outing in which the 'Jacks shot better than 50-percent from the field and in Southland Conference showdowns SFA has hit pay dirt on 56-percent of its shot attempts - far and away the most accurate percentage in the 13-team league. Houston Baptist is the next SLC squad in line in conference game field goal percentage with a figure of 47.9-percent.
• For the first time in Southland Conference play, the 'Jacks bench was outscored by the opposing team's reserves. Lamar's bench bunch pumped in 26 points compared to just 24 by the home squad marking just the fourth time in 2015-16 that SFA didn't hold an advantage in bench points over an opponent. On average, SFA's reserves account for 29.9 points per game and in Southland Conference play that number rises to 32.2 per tilt.
• Lamar also became the first Southland Conference team this season to have a lead on the 'Jacks in William R. Johnson Coliseum. The Cardinals scored the game's first points and led for 58 seconds. The last time SFA faced a home deficit of any kind was back on Dec. 12, 2015, when Arkansas Tech held a four-point advantage.
• Senior Trey Pinkney put on another passing showcase by dishing out a season-high eight assists without committing a turnover. It's the 11th time in 2015-16 that the Katy, Texas, product has enjoyed a multiple assist outing without committing a turnover.
• Another strong night on the defensive end of the floor resulted in the 'Jacks scoring 29 points off of 22 Lamar turnovers. Those 29 points are the third-most number of points scored off turnovers by the 'Jacks in a single game this season and on average SFA nets 22.1 markers per game off of opponent throwaways - 27.7-percent of its per-game offensive output of 79.9 points.
LET'S GO STREAKING!
• William R. Johnson Coliseum has been the site of many impressive win streaks since its construction and none have been more eye-popping than those that head coach Brad Underwood has overseen.
• 24 - Since a 79-77 OT loss to Northern Iowa on Nov. 18, 2014, SFA hasn't experienced a setback in WRJ Coliseum. That's a streak of 24-straight games which is the sixth-longest home court winning streak in the nation.
• 24.3 - Through the course of that 24-game home court winning streak, the 'Jacks have outscored their opponents by 583 points and their margin of victory has been by an average of 24.3 points.
• SFA has won 14 consecutive Southland Conference games which stands as the sixth-longest winning streak in conference tilts in the league's history. With one more win, the 'Jacks would increase their unbeaten stretch in SLC games to 15 - the fifth-longest streak in conference history. Those 14-straight SLC triumphs also stand as the second-longest active conference winning streak in the nation behind Texas Southern (18, SWAC).
• 34 - In recent memory, Southland Conference foes have not fared well in William R. Johnson Coliseum to say the least. SFA has defeated the last 34 SLC squads who have stepped foot inside the 'Jacks home facility and the last league team to escape the facility with a win was UT-Arlington who claimed a 51-47 victory on Feb. 15, 2012. Of the current members of the 13-team league, Sam Houston State was the most recent one to obtain a victory at WRJ Coliseum as they bested SFA 55-40 on March 2, 2011.
• Senior Demetrious Floyd - also known as Meech or Meechy - has taken a big leap in terms of his production from his junior to senior seasons and the hard work put in by the St. Louis, Mo., product in the 'Jacks offseason has paid dividends. A high-scoring guard, Floyd collected his first-ever Southland Conference player of the week on Monday on the heels of an otherworldly offensive performance. In an 82-58 triumph at New Orleans, Floyd single-handedly demoralized the Privateers by pumping in a career-high 32 points on 13-of-16 shooting which included a 6-of-8 mark from long distance. Twenty-one of those points came in the second half and were four more than the 17 mustered by the Privateers as a whole. He followed that up with a 17-point outing against Sam Houston State to average 24.5 points per game on 66.7-percent (20-of-30) shooting.
IF YOU AIN'T FIRST, YOU'RE LAST
In their 19 games played this season, SFA has scored first in 11 of them. The 'Jacks are 9-2 when they put in the first points of a contest and in all but one of their Southland Conference games SFA has broken the seal on the scoreboard.
• On average, it has taken 2:42 seconds for the 'Jacks Southland Conference opponents to put their first points of the game on the board.
THAT 70'S SHOW (AND THAT 80'S SHOW)
• In their Saturday night tilt against Abilene Christian back on January 16, the 'Jacks made a rather substantial edit to the program's history books. That 97-62 win over the Wildcats saw SFA shoot 72.2-percent (39-of-54) from the field to establish a new single-game best field goal percentage. The previous mark of 71.7-percent was set in a win over Ouachita Baptist on Dec. 9, 1984 - almost 22 years ago.
SFA's 72.2-percent shooting night also stands as the best single-game field goal percentage in NCAA DI basketball this season as does the 'Jacks 80-percent (12-of-15) night from three-point range.
AT A LOSS FOR LOSSES
• Trey Pinkney and Thomas Walkup, both of the four-year seniors on the 'Jacks squad in 2015-16, have never lost a Southland Conference game at home in their careers. The pair is a perfect 31-0 against SLC opposition in William R. Johnson Coliseum in their careers. Those two are also 56-3 in SLC games in their careers.
THE PROWESS OF PINKNEY
• Brad Underwood has coached 88 games at SFA, and in each one of those tilts he has turned to Trey Pinkney to serve as the starting point guard for the Lumberjacks.
• Never have the ball handling or passing abilities of the Katy, Texas, product been questioned and so far this season his decision-making skills have the senior at the forefront of the national scene in assist-to-turnover ratio. His A-T ratio of 5.42 is the best among all NCAA Division I men's basketball players and he has committed just four turnovers in seven 2015-16 conference games.
10 BANDS, 50 BANDS, HEADBANDS
• No, the bands in this case aren't wadded up rolls of currency. They are headbands, much like the ones sported by senior Jared Johnson as of late. While donning a headband, the Columbia, S.C., product is 12-of-26 from three-point range (46.2-percent). In games without his headband, Johnson is just 18-of-61 (29.5-percent) from downtown.
FOLLOW MY LEAD
• In the 280 minutes of Southland Conference basketball the 'Jacks have taken part in so far, they have trailed for just 3:56. To put that number into a different perspective, that's just 1.4-percent of total SLC game time the 'Jacks have been behind on the scoreboard in 2015-16.
MAKE IT RAIN...
• Senior Demetrious Floyd's primary weapon of choice through his two-year career at SFA has been the three-point shot. As a matter of fact, he has hit 103 of them in his days in purple and white and needs just three more to tie former SFA great Jake Parker for 10th all-time on the 'Jacks NCAA DI list of individuals who have canned the most downtown buckets in their careers.
...MAKE IT RAIN...
• Just one team in the Southland Conference owns a better scoring average than SFA's 79.4 points per game. That's the 53rd-highest per-game offensive output in DI basketball and the 'Jacks scoring margin of +13.7 ranks first in the league and is the 17th-highest in the land. Additionally, SFA is hitting 47.8-percent of its field goals - another SLC-topping figure which is good for 32nd-best in the nation.
MAKE IT RAIN ON THEM FOES
• In Southland Conference games, the 'Jacks are putting up video game-esque numbers from the field. Their team field goal percentage of .560 is the highest in the league by 8.1-percent and their gaudy three-point percentage of 47.8 is 5.7-percent better than the next closest team in the SLC (Central Arkansas/42.1). The 'Jacks have been throttling their league foes, too, beating them by a conference-leading average of 25.0 points per game. This efficiency has helped SFA avoid placing any one of its players in the top minutes per game getters in the SLC.
FAST SECOND-HALF START
• In five of their six Southland Conference games this season, the 'Jacks have started the second half with a lead of 10 or more points and have quickly put the game out of reach from there. In the first five minutes of the second half in SLC games, SFA has outscored the opposition 70-40.
STRAIGHT CLASS, HOMIE
• Senior Thomas Walkup finds himself in the running for the prestigious 2015-16 Senior CLASS award. He found that information out earlier in the week when it was announced the Pasadena, Texas, product and reigning Southland Conference Player of the Year was one of 30 NCAA Division I men's basketball student-athletes from around the nation who were up for the laurel. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
TO INFINITI AND BEYOND
• For the second-straight year, SFA head coach Brad Underwood has been selected as one of 48 NCAA Division I men's basketball coaches from around the nation to participate in the ESPN Infiniti Coaches' Charity Challenge. Underwood is in the running for a $100,000 grandCharity Challenge. Underwood is in the running for a $100,000 grand prize which will be granted to the charitable organization sponsored by him - in this case, the Nacogdoches Area United Way. Every day, individuals are encouraged to cast their vote for Underwood by going to VoteForBrad.com. Last season, Underwood finished seventh in the competition and raised a grand total of $10,000 for the Nacogdoches Area United Way.
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 19 games this season, the 'Jacks have forced 361 turnovers which works out to an average of 19 opponent throwaways per game. Just one team - Bob Huggins' West Virgnia Mountaineers - have a higher forced turnover figure (19.8) 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 231 times (12.2 per game) this season. The 'Jacks turnover margin of +6.8 is the best in the nation.
• In the latest NCAA Division I men's basketball statistical rankings, SFA is in 10 in terms of assist to turnover ration. It's Southland Conference-leading figure of 1.56 is currently the 10th-best number in all the land.
FLOYD FIRES AWAY
• Demetrious Floyd is likely featured prominently on opposing scouting reports as he's one of the best three-point shooters in both the SLC and the nation. He ranks second among the SFA ranks in scoring (13.2 ppg) and is third in the league in three-pointers per game (2.6).
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 four 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 1,509 points scored, 465 of them - or 30.8-percent - have come by way of the long-range basket. On average, SFA hits 8.2 long balls per tilt which is the best per-game figure in the Southland Conference and the 73rd-best mark among the 351 NCAA Division I men's basketball teams in the United States.
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 leads the 13-team Southland Conference and fourth in the nation with an assists per game average of 19.2.
• Throughout his career, James Brown adopted the above moniker and was also regularly described as the hardest working man in show business. Senior Thomas Walkup is arguably the hardest working man in the Southland Conference as he received just two offers out of high school - one to Houston Baptist and one to SFA. Four years later, his hard work has yielded the label of self-made player, a pair of All-American nods as well as a 2014-15 Southland Conference Player of the Year citation. Currently, Walkup ranks among the top ten in the Southland Conference in no fewer than six statistical categories. His 16.4 points per game leads SFA and his .588 field goal percentage ranks 23rd among all NCAA Division I players while his 1.79 steals per game are the 66th-best figure among all DI student-athletes.
• 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 scoreboard 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 66-2 (.970) at SFA when leading at the half.
THE LASTS ARE THE BEST
• It's no secret that the 'Jacks senior class is one of the most accomplished in the Southland Conference, but this season they have accounted for 64.4-percent (868 pts.) of the team's 1,347 point total. SFA's top three point-producers are members of the senior class and 64.6-percent (208) of the team's 322 assists come courtesy of the senior class.
• 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 26th-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.
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.
• 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 8.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 blocked shots all while shooting 51-96 (.531) from the field and 10-20 (.500) from long-ball territory. Holyfield is also the only freshman in Underwood's tenure at SFA to start his first 18 games.
• When stacked up against all other freshman student-athletes in the Southland Conference, Holyfield ranks fifth in scoring, second in field goal percentage (.531) and second in blocked shots (1.3/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 (10-for-20) clip from downtown is tops in the 13-team league.
THE BIG SMOOTH
• Coming off the bench in all but two of the 'Jacks 18 confrontation this season, senior Clide Geffrard has needed just submitted his name as a candidate for Southland Conference Player of the Year by morphing into one of the most consistent players among the 'Jacks ranks.
• Geffrard has scored at least 10 points in 13 straight games this season. That's the longest streak of double-digit scoring efforts by any SFA player in 2015-16.
• In Southland Conference games, Geffrard has been particularly effective. His 14.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per SLC tilt rank 17th and 15th respectively among all league players and his three-point field goal percentage of .500 in SLC games is the fifth-highest in the 13-team league.
• 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 .525 (147-280) and contributed 10.4 points per game to the 'Jacks cause.
PINKNEY CLIMBS THE CHARTS
• So far in his career, senior Trey Pinkney has passed out 350 assists.Against LSU-Shreveport, the Katy, Texas, product became just the seventh player in program history to notch 300 career helpers. His 350 assists rank fourth all-time in SFA's NCAA Division I history. Additionally, Pinkney's 130 steals are sixth all-time on SFA's DI charts and he needs five more thefts to move up to fifth place.
NO BAD LOSSES
• Stephen F. Austin has found itself with fewer points than its opponent just 13 times in the last two-plus 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, three of the 'Jacks five setbacks have come at the hands of Baylor, Northern Iowa and UAB - all 2015 NCAA Tourney teams.
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). Walkup also saw his name listed on the Lou Henson Award mid-season list along with fellow Southland Conference student-athlete Rashawn Thomas (Texas A&M-CC).
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 bettern winning percentage than the Lumberjacks. In the past 15 years, SFA is the owner of a 318-154 record which works out to a winning percentage of .674. The only school in the state to produce better numbers in that time has been Texas (369-164, .692 win %).
• 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.
• Heading into their latest season on the hardwood, SFA is making a bid to accomplish something no other team in the six-decade history of the Southland Conference has done: win four consecutive league titles. Prior to SFA's three-peat, the last team to capture a trio of successive league crowns was Sam Houston State which racked up SLC West championships from 2008-11. Before to the Bearkats run of dominance, Lamar accomplished the feat from 1978-81.
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM