From SFA Athletics
NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release)
THE STARTING FIVE
• Following an absence of some two weeks from William R. Johnson Coliseum, the Stephen F. Austin men’s basketball team (16-5, 9-0 SLC) returns to its home venue on Monday night for the 124th installment of the Texas/Louisiana roundball border battle with Northwestern State (6-14, 3-7 SLC). This latest tilt between the two longtime adversaries - who began crossing paths with once another on a regular basis exactly 90 years ago - will tip off at 7 p.m. Individuals unable to see the Lumberjacks/Demons fracas in-person can follow along with by directing their attention to ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app which will be pumping out every second of the action in real time. As has been the case for the entirety of the season, play-by-play and analysis responsibilities fall squarely on the broad shoulders of Rob Meyers. Meyers’ description of the SFA/NSU showdown can also be listened to on Q107.7 in Nacogdoches, or worldwide on q1077.com and the radioPup mobile app.
• Of the 13 current members of the Southland Conference, Northwestern State is the only institution who possesses a winning record against the Lumberjacks. The Demons are 65-58 all-time against SFA, but the ‘Jacks have emerged victorious in six-straight meetings and 12 of the last 15 times the teams have crossed paths. The three SFA losses in that span have come by a combined 11 points.
• In terms of squads that haven’t lost a conference game in 2015-16, there was a major thinning of the herd this past weekend. With league setbacks by VCU, Columbia, Wichita State and Texas Southern, the ‘Jacks are one of just four teams in the nation that haven’t been tripped up in a conference showdown this season. SFA is 9-0 in league play and is joined in the ranks of the conference unbeatens by Stony Brook (10-0, America East), Yale (6-0, Ivy), San Diego State (11-0, Mountain West)
• There isn’t an NCAA Division I men’s basketball team in the nation that possesses a better in-conference winning percentage since the 2013-14 season than the Lumberjacks. Since Brad Underwood stepped foot in Nacogdoches, the ‘Jacks have posted a 44-1 record in conference tilts for a.978 winning percentage. Wichita State had possessed sole ownership of that winning percentage statistic until Saturday, when the Shockers were handed a 58-53 loss at Illinois State, dropping their in-league mark to 46-2 (.958 winning percentage) over that same span.
• Winning has been an adjective long associated with the Lumberjack tandem of Trey Pinkneyand Thomas Walkup. The pair of four-year seniors have collected some 208 combined triumphs in their storied careers, a number that has been matched by just one other pair of individuals - Wichita State’s Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet, who have an equal number of victories to their credit.
SCOUTING THE DEMONS
• Outside of the ‘Jacks, Northwestern State has been the hottest team in the league by rattling off three consecutive league wins. Triumphs have, unfortunately, been difficult to come by for the Demons following the loss of one of the nation’s premier mid-major players when Jalan West went down for the season in the Demons’ season-opener. Forced to re-tool his team on the fly, 17th-year head coach Mike McConathy has been leaning heavily on his other upperclassman workhorse - junior Zeek Woodley - to shoulder the vast majority of the Demons’ payload.
• Woodley’s league-leading scoring average of 22.7 points per game has helped Northwestern State shake off an 0-7 start in conference play, but the scoring duties don’t come solely based off the production of the nation’s 10th-best points per game producer. Four Demons average 10 or more points per game and those individuals include Sabri Thompson (11.5), freshman big man Ishmael Lane (11.4) and guard Devonte Hall (10.0), who passes with exceptional skill, too, as evident by his league-leading 6.5 assists per game.
• The Demons are on the hunt for their second Southland Conference road win of the season and in order to gain that victory they must put an end to a six-game losing streak to the ‘Jacks. Northwestern State hasn’t posted a victory in Nacogdoches since getting a 70-65 result on March 5, 2011.
• No current men’s basketball coach in the Southland Conference has more victories over the Lumberjacks than Northwestern State bench boss Mike McConathy. He has claimed victory over SFA on 14 occasions since taking over the center seat at Northwestern State in the 1999-2000 campaign. In his first 15 games against SFA, McConathy posted a 10-5 record.
REVIEWING SFA at HOUSTON BAPTIST
• Charged up at the prospect of playing near his high school stomping grounds, seniorThomas Walkup wowed all in attendance at Sharp Gymnasium by keeping his hot streak against Houston Baptist going. His career and game-high 35 points helped counter an aggressive brigade of Huskies’ who forced the ‘Jacks into a season-high 18 turnovers.
• Although the ‘Jacks led for 38 of the 40 minutes, the first eight were the only time when SFA’s advantage could have been considered comfortable. Directly after administering a 17-4 opening salvo, SFA gave up a 14-2 run to the hosts and didn’t see their lead balloon to over eight points for the remainder of the contest.
• Only four SFA players put in points in a first half where the visitors fired at a clip of just 2-of-11 (18.2-percent) from long range. Walkup and freshman TJ Holyfield combined for 20 of SFA’s 30 first-half markers.
• Offensive rebounding played a huge role in the tilt, as the ‘Jacks corralled 15 caroms of that variety which led to 21 second-chance points. SFA owned a +17 advantage in second-chance points during the win.
• On two occasions in the final 3:14, the Huskies whittled the ‘Jacks lead all the way down to one point. Both times, though, SFA had the answer. Following a jumper by HBU’s Anthony Odunsi that made things 67-66 with 23 ticks to go, Ty Charles was fouled by Reveal Chukwujekwu. As Charles did not have the ball in his hands at the time, the foul was ruled as one of the flagrant-one variety, sending Charles to the free throw line and giving the ‘Jacks the ball following those tries at the stripe. SFA hit five of its six free throws in the last 23 seconds to secure the win.
THE MARGIN ISN’T AN ERROR
• There isn’t another NCAA Division I men’s basketball team that possesses a higher in-conference scoring differential than the ‘Jacks. SFA is defeating league foes by an average of 20.7 points per game, which is a little more than a point better than the next closest program. Wichita State has a +18.2 margin of victory in MVC tilts and Stony Brook is pasting their America East competition by 20 per game.
• No matter where the ‘Jacks have found themselves doing battle against Southland Conference opponents in the Brad Underwood coaching era - at home or on the road - the result has been an SFA win all but once. In road games against SLC adversaries, the ‘Jacks are 21-1 in that span their conference road winning percentage (.955) is higher that the home winning percentage of every other Southland Conference team.
• In Southland Conference games only, the Lumberjacks are first in 12 of the 21 statistical categories kept by the 13-team conference. SFA ranks first or second in almost two-thirds (13/21) of the total categories. For a full listing, see page five of SFA’s game notes.
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 tied for 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 16 consecutive Southland Conference games which stands as the fourth-longest winning streak in conference tilts in the league’s history. With three more wins, the ‘Jacks would increase their unbeaten stretch in SLC games to 19 - the third-longest streak in conference history. No team in the nation can boast of a longer conference winning streak than the ‘Jacks, either. Following a loss by Texas Southern on Saturday, SFA’s 16-game SLC winning streak is the longest active in-league stretch without a loss among all NCAA DI programs.
• 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 33 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.
ALL THEY DO IS WIN
• The only two seniors on SFA’s roster who have spent all four years in purple and white,Thomas Walkup and Trey Pinkney have been responsible for their fair share of wins throughout their careers. Each member of the pair has 104 wins in their collegiate careers, four fewer than former Lumberjack star Jake Parker who collected a program-record 108 during his career. They join Parker as the only players to ever notch 100 or more wins as a Lumberjack.
CHARLES IN CHARGE
• There are only three players - Thomas Walkup being one of them - who own a better FG% in SLC games than sophomore Ty Charles. He’s shooting .615 in league tilts and bringing 10.7 points per game to the table. SFA boasts four players who average better than 10 points per game in SLC action.
AT A LOSS FOR LEAGUE 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 33-0 against SLC opposition in William R. Johnson Coliseum in their careers. Those two are also 60-3 in SLC games in their careers.
YOU WANT A REMATCH?
• Two of the top thre teams in the Southland Conference will occupy William R. Johnson Coliseum on Saturday night when Texas A&M-Corpus Christi comes to Nacogdoches eager to avenge a loss to the ‘Jacks earlier in the season. The second of three-straight home games for SFA, Saturday’s tilt is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.