From SFA Athletics
NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release)
THE STARTING FIVE
• Playing in its first Thursday night tilt since Thanksgiving Day of 2015, the Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team hauls its nation-leading 16-game winning streak across the Texas/Louisiana border to Natchitoches, La., to take part in the 125th skirmish with longtime roundball archenemy Northwestern State at 7:30 p.m. Links to live stats and live video of the `Jacks penultimate regular season Southland Conference contest will be available on SFAJacks.com and making his umpteenth pilgrimage to Prather Coliseum is the voice of the Lumberjacks, Rob Meyers, who will provide play-by-play and analysis of the rivalry tilt on Q107.7 FM in Nacogdoches and online at q1077.com.
• Of the 12 Southland Conference teams that are not the `Jacks, Northwestern State is the only one that owns a winning all-time record against SFA. Since the series commenced back in Natchitoches in 1926, NSU has a 65-59 edge on the `Jacks, but SFA is 13-7 over the last 20 games of the rivalry and has emerged as the victors in seven-straight confrontations.
• Already the owners of their fourth consecutive regular season title and the number one overall seed in the Southland Conference tournament the `Jacks are attempting to become the sixth SLC team in the 54-year history of the league to go undefeated in conference play. The 2013-14 edition of the `Jacks was the last team to close out a league slate without a setback, going 18-0.
• If the `Jacks can accomplish that above goal, they'd be just the 19th team in NCAA Division I men's basketball history to finish a league schedule of 18 or more games without a setback. SFA has won 10 or more league games in eight of its past nine seasons.
• Ten of the `Jacks 16 Southland Conference wins have come by 20 or more points and 19 of their 22 wins this season have been by 10 or more points. By way of those lopsided wins as well as their nation-leading winning streak, the `Jacks have received a vote in the AP Top 25 Poll for the second time in as many weeks.
SCOUTING THE DEMONS
• Duking it out with both New Orleans and Nicholls for the eight and final spot in the Southland Conference Tournament, the Demons currently hold a one-game lead over the Colonels for the eighth seed. Additionally, should the teams wind up tied once the dust has settled, the Demons hold the tiebreaker having won both head-to-head matchups against Nicholls in 2015-16. Following their tilt with the Lumberjacks, NSU takes on New Orleans in the Big Easy in a game that could decide the postseason fate of both teams.
• After getting floored with double-digit losses in their first three Southland Conference home games of the 2015-16 campaign, the Demons have picked themselves up off the mat and gathered up victories in four of their last five SLC go-arounds in Prather Coliseum. The lone setback in that stretch was a slim 102-99 setback to New Orleans which was the third time in 2015-16 that the Demons have surrendered 100 or more points to the opposition. NSU is 0-3 in tilts where that occurs.
• Pumping in points isn't a difficult task to accomplish on a nightly basis for the Demons, but preventing the other team from putting the ball in the basket does not appear to be of paramount important to NSU. Although the possess the league's highest-scoring offense (80.1 ppg) and the most prolific scorer in the 13-team SLC (Zeek Woodley, 22.7 ppg), NSU ranks last in the SLC and 344th out of 351 NCAA Division I men's basketball teams in scoring defense, surrendering 85.4 points per game to those who oppose them.
• Thursday night will feature a battle of the top-two three-point line defenders in the Southland Conference. SFA gives up a shooting clip of just 31.9-percent from long range by their foes while the Demons are second only to the `Jacks, allowing their enemies to connect on 33.5-percent of their downtowo tries.
• Outside of Woodley, three other Demons average north of 10 points per game, including Sabri Thompson (12.9), Ishmael Lane (11.6) and Devonte Hall (10.7). All of those individuals are hitting field goals at a rate of 41.6-percent or better and both Woodley and Lane are hauling down a little more the five rebounds per game.
REVIEWING SFA at INCARNATE WORD
• It was a good day for Thomas Walkup as he - to paraphrase American rapper Ice Cube - messed around and registered Stephen F. Austin's first triple-double in 43 years in the `Jacks 84-58 Monday night romp over Incarnate Word in the Alamo City. The senior out of Pasadena, Texas, had a double-double by halftime and finished with 12 points, a career-high 15 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists - the last of which came on a fast-break dunk by fellow senior Clide Geffrard just 9:38 into the final stanza. Walkup's triple-double was the first by a Southland Conference player since 2011.
• Once on the court, Walkup was indeed trouble for the Cardinals as he needed just 28 minutes to complete his triple-double. That's the second-fewest number of minutes needed to complete one of college basketball's 27 triple-doubles this season. Milwaukee's Jordan Johnson and UConn's Daniel Hamilton each had a triple-double in 27 minutes of playing time earlier in 2015-16.
• Additionally, Walkup also finished with a game-high five steals to become just the second NCAA Division I men's basketball player in the last 20 years to have at least 10 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists and five steals in a game. Prior to Walkup, UConn's Ben Gordon did it against Iona on Dec. 20, 2003.
• Once again, the shots were falling more often than not for the `Jacks in yet another lopsided victory. The `Jacks shot 50.8-percent from the field against the Cardinals, signaling the 13th time in 2015-16 SFA has finished a game with a field goal percentage of 50-percent or greater. Unsurprisingly, the `Jacks are 13-0 in those games.
• For the ninth time in their 16 2015-16 Southland Conference games, the `Jacks never found themselves trailing.
• Walkup also hit four free throws in the game, bringing his career total to 383 made free throws - tied for the most in SFA's DI history with Matt Kingsley who played at SFA from 2005-09. With one more free throw make, Walkup will move into sole possession of first place all-time on the `Jacks DI career charts. It would be the fourth statistical category that Walkup would become SFA's career leader in.
• Clide Geffrard packed the most scoring punch for the Lumberjacks as he finshed with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-10 field goal shooting. Ty Charles added 16 and Demetrious Floyd notched 13 and the `Jacks moved to 12-0 when four players score 10 or more points in a game.
• Try as they might, the Cardinals couldn't crack the `Jacks tough three-point field goal defense. In the last 10 games, SFA's opponents have gone just 34-of-144 (23.6-percent) from three-point range and the `Jacks have moved up to 51st in the nation in terms of downtown FG defense (31.9-percent).
UPPER CRUST OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL
• Of the 32 statistical categories kept by the NCAA, the Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team is among the top seven-percent of the nation's 351 NCAA DI teams in 11 of them. SFA leads the nation in turnovers forced per game (18.64), ranks second in turnover margin (+5.6), scoring margin (+15.8) and assists per game (18.9). The `Jacks reside in the top ten in steals per game, too, as their 9.1 per outing is the ninth-highest average in the United States. Their 529 total assists are also the ninth-most among all men's basketball squads.
DON'T LOSE THAT NUMBER
• 20 | With a win at Nicholls on Feb. 20, the `Jacks locked up their fourth-consecutive 20-win season. Since 2007-08, SFA has amassed 20 or more wins in every season but one.
• 11 | SFA's bench has contributed 30 or more points to the `Jacks efforts in 10 games this season. In Southland Conference play, SFA's bench is averaging 30.3 points per game - 12.1 more than their opponents' reserves.
• 7 | In 7 of the `Jacks 22 wins this season, SFA has forced a higher number of turnovers than their opponents' final made field goal total.
Date Opponent FGs TOs
12/8 Henderson State 21 27
12/12 Arkansas Tech 18 25
12/19 Our Lady of the Lake 19 23
1/18 at New Orleans 17 18
1/25 Lamar 22 20
2/15 Incarnate Word 17 19
2/27 Houston Baptist 21 25
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.
• 28 - 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 28-straight games which the fourth-longest active home winning streak in the nation.
• 24 - Through the course of that 28-game home court winning streak, the `Jacks have outscored their opponents by 672 points and their margin of victory has been by an average of 24 points.
• SFA has won 23 consecutive Southland Conference games which stands as the second-longest winning streak in conference tilts in the league's history. The `Jacks now own the longest and second-longest in-conference.
win streaks in league history.
• 38 - In recent memory, Southland Conference foes have not fared well in William R. Johnson Coliseum to say the least. SFA has defeated the last 38 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.
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 22.3 points per game. Wichita State, out of the Missouri Valley Conference, has the next highest in-league scoring differential at +19.1 followed by Stony Brook (+14.4) and Yale (+12.5).
• 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 24-1 in that span their conference road winning percentage (.960) is higher that the home winning percentage of every other Southland Conference team.
• Last week, Thomas Walkup learned he was one of 11 semifinalists from around the country who are in the running for the 2016 Eddie Sutton Tustenugee Award. He's one of two mid-major players on the list for the award that singles out players who exhibit the traits of tenacity and toughness advocated by Sutton through a 36-year head coaching career that yielded over 800 wins.
• 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 eight statistical categories. His 16.8 points per game leads SFA and his .580 field goal percentage ranks 34th among all NCAA Division I players while his 2.07 steals per game stands as the 25th-highest average among all DI student-athletes.
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 111 wins in their collegiate careers, two more 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 seven players - Thomas Walkup being one of them - who own a better FG% in SLC games than sophomore Ty Charles. He's shooting .576 in league tilts and bringing 10.5 points per game to the table. SFA boasts four players who average better than 10 points per game in SLC action.
IN DA CLUB
• By way of his 30 points on February 8 against Northwestern State, SFA senior Thomas Walkup entered an exclusive club as just one of three players in SFA's NCAA Division I history who have amassed 1,500 points and 500 rebounds in their careers. Walkup became the program's all-time field goal leader in that game, too, and has 568 shots to his credit and the senior also moved up to second on the `Jacks NCAA Division I career scoring chart.
With a big 82-54 win over Houston Baptist on Saturday, Feb. 27, the `Jacks sewed up their fourth-straight Southland Conference regular season title. By adding another win on Monday at Incarnate Word, the `Jacks became the first team in Southland Conference history to win four-straight outright regular season titles. Lamar won four in a row from 1978-81, but their first crown was a joint one.
PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM
• Shoud the `Jacks win at Northwestern State on Thursday night, just one more team will stand between them and a chance at another 18-0 conference finish. That team is Sam Houston State, who SFA will travel to on Saturday for a 7 p.m. showdown. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.