'Jacks open up 92nd season of basketball at #2/4 Kentucky

'Jacks open up 92nd season of basketball at #2/4 Kentucky

SFA Athletics

NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release)

• Friday night marks the beginning of the 92nd season of Stephen F. Austin basketball when the 'Jacks make a journey of 849 miles to take Kentucky - the winningest program in college basketball which boasts a #2/4 national ranking in the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls respectively.
• More often than not, the 'Jacks have emerged victorious in season openers. Since its first season of basketball in 1925, the 'Jacks have posted a 55-36 (.604) record in lid-lifters and are 4-1 in their last five.
• For the second-straight season, the 'Jacks will take on a nationally-ranked oppoent in their first game of the season. In 2015-16, SFA traveled to Waco, Texas, for a showdown with #21/22 ranked Big 12 opponent Baylor University.
• Once the 'Jacks and 'Cats tip off in Rupp Arena, it will signal the start of SFA's second tilt against a top-ten nationally-ranked opponent in the last three games. In the opening round of last year's NCAA Tournament, SFA squared off with #8-ranked West Virgnia and sprung a 70-56 upset of the third-seeded Mountaineers.
• With their #2/4 ranking, the Wildcats represent the highest-ranked team ever faced by Stephen F. Austin in the 'Jacks history. This is also the first game Stephen F. Austin will be playing on the SEC Network.
• Friday night's bout marks the fourth time in SFA's history that it has started up a season by going toe-to-toe with an SEC opponent. The 'Jacks tangled with Texas A&M to start the 1998-99, 1988-89 and 1984-85 seasons.

• On April 4, 2016, Stephen F. Austin director of athletics Robert Hill introduced Kyle Keller as the head men's basketball coach of the Lumberjacks following the departure of Brad Underwood.
• Keller is just the 12th head coach in the 92-year history of the Lumberjacks' men's basketball program and comes to Nacogdoches following a five-year stint as one of the nation's premier recruiting talents at Texas A&M.
• With Keller helping to helm things in College Station, the Aggies made a return trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five seasons. Thanks to Keller, the Aggies were able to ink four of the top eight players in the state of Texas in their 2015-16 recruiting class.
• While in the tournament, the Aggies advanced to the program's third Sweet Sixteen. It was the first time the squad reached that point since 2006-07.
• All told, Keller has amassed no fewer than 26 years of collegiate coaching experience throughout the Southland Conference, the Sun Belt, the Big 12 and the SEC.
• Keller's assignment as the Lumberjacks' head man is his first NCAA Division I head coaching stop. From 1997-99, he was the head coach of the Tyler Junior College men's basketball team in Tyler, Texas.

• Recruit and reload. That motto rings true yet against for UK head coach John Calipari who lured another highly-touted group of youngsters to Lexington with the promise of playing for the winningest college basketball program of all time and competing for a national championship.
• Freshmen Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo and De'Aaron Fox were all selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame preseason watch list. Additionally, Fox saw his name listed among the candidates for the Bob Cousy Award - the award that honors the nation's top point guard. Adebayo is listed on the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar list for the top center while Monk is in the running for the Jerry West Award which recognizes the top shooting guard in the land. 
• The three aforementioned players as well as sophmore Isaiah Briscoe each earned spots on Preseason All-SEC Teams. Briscoe and Monk represented the 'Cats on the second team while Adebayo and Fox registered First Team acclaim. 
• In their pair of exhibition tilts against Clarion and Asbury, Kentucky averaged 132.0 points per game and shot 65.5-percent from the field. The Wildcats' well-documented thrashing of Asbury last Sunday saw Kentucky open up a lead of as many as 102 points before settling for a 156-63 triumph. 
• Various pundits affiliated with the SEC chose the Wildcats to capture the 2016-17 SEC regular season title. Should they accomplish that goal, it would be UK's 48th SEC crown since the program's inception.
• Since John Calipari took over as Kentucky's head coach at the start of the 2009-10 season, the Wildcats have lost only four home games. Calipari's record inside Rupp Arena stands at 119-4 (.967). 


• The last four Southland Conference Player of the Year winners have worn Stephen F. Austin colors, making the 'Jacks' men's basketball program one of 22 teams in the history of NCAA Division I men's basketball that have laid claim to four or more consecutive conference player of the year award winners. • Since the year 2000, five other teams besides Stephen F. Austin have boasted their respective league's player of the year four or more times.
Gonzaga | 2000-07 | seven straight | WCC
Stephen F. Austin | 2012-16 | four straight | Southland Conference
Stony Brook | 2012-16 | four straight | America East Conference
Texas Southern | 2012-16 | four straight | SWAC
Nevada | 2003-07 | four straight | WAC
Vermont | 2001-05 | four straight | America East Conference
• Putting the Lumberjacks in more rarified air is the fact that the last four Southland Conference Coach of the Year award winners have also sat at the helm of Stephen F. Austin.
• Aside from the Lumberjacks' stretch of four straight years boasting their league's coach of the year, there have been just four other occasions in the history of NCAA Division I men's basketball that has transpired.
Stephen F. Austin | 2012-16 | four straight | Southland Conference
Gonzaga | 2000-06 | six straight | WCC
Kentucky | 1968-72 | five straight | SEC
Davidson | 1962-66 | four straight | Southern Conference
West Virginia | 1957-61 | four straight | Southern Conference

• Once the 2016-17 season gets underway, the 'Jacks will put the nation's longest road winning streak on the line. Stephen F. Austin has won its last nine road tilts, beating out Iona's seven game stretch of triumphs away from home for the land's lengthiest.
• As a matter of fact, no teams in all of college basketball has registered more road wins over the past five seasons than the 'Jacks. Stephen F. Austin has won 51 road contests in that span, putting it three games up on MVC institution Wichita State for the nation's lead.
1. Stephen F. Austin | 51
2. Wichita State | 48
3. Robert Morris | 47
T4. Bucknell | 46
T4. Albany | 46

• Perhaps not quite the polling shakeup that transpired in the United States on Tuesday night, there was a new Southland Conference preseason favorite for the first time since 2014 when the league unveiled its preseason prognostications for the 2016-17 campaign.
• Coming off their fourth-straight Southland Conference regular season title and third consecutive Southland Conference Tournament championship, the 'Jacks' were selected to finish second in both the coaches and sports information directors' polls. Sam Houston State was picked to finish ahead of the Lumberjacks by one point in the coaches poll (138-137) and by two points (137-135) in the sports information directors' poll.
• Stephen F. Austin collected six first-place votes in the coaches' poll and five in the sports information directors' poll. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi received a single first-place vote in each poll and was listed third in each of them with 123 points.
• Since 2008, Stephen F. Austin has won all six of its Southland Conference titles to bring its program total to 23.
• The 'Jacks are the owners of the three longest winning streaks in the history of the Southland Conference. From Nov. 26, 2013 until March 23, 2014, SFA rattled off 29-straight wins - the first win streak of 20 or more games in conference history. SFA's most recent stretch of consecutive victories was 21 which occurred from Jan. 2, 2016 until March 20, 2016 and the 'Jacks round out the league's top three winning streaks with a 19-game stretch from Nov. 27, 2014 until Feb. 14, 2015.

• No man on the 'Jacks' roster possesses more on-court experience than senior Dallas Cameron, and the Pompano Beach, Fla., product will be looked to in order to provide leadership to a team that is still finding its footing.
• The only four NCAA Division I college basketball players that have a better winning percentage than Cameron over the last three years all play for Villanova. Cameron has won 86.4-percent of the games he has played in and ranks fifth in SFA's history with 89 career triumphs.

• Now that the 'Jacks' 2015-16 five-member senior class has received their diplomas and moved on to various other professional walks of life or basketball teams, that leaves only five members of the squad remaining on the 2016-17 roster. Foremost among that quintet is junior guard Ty Charles.
• For the second time in as many seasons, Charles was chosen for a spot on the Preseason All-Southland Conference Second Team. The Kennedale, Texas, product was the lone representative of the 'Jacks to make an appearance on the two preseason all-league lists.
• Of the 34 tilts the 'Jacks took part in a season ago, Charles took part in all but one of them and averaged 9.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. His 2015-16 scoring average was 2.6 points per game better than the one he produced as a freshman and he succeeded in breaking the double-digit scoring barrier on 13 separate occasions last season.
• Three of those instances were outings of the 20+ point variety, including a career-best 25 on 11-of-12 shooting from the field in a Southland Conference victory over Abilene Christian. Eleven of those 13 double-digit scoring efforts were put forth against Southland Conference competition where Charles averaged 10.1 markers per tilt.
• Charles represents the 'Jacks' top returning scorer, rebounder, assist producer (2.3/game) and steal-getter (1.4/game) from a 2015-16 that went 28-6, captured a third-straight Southland Conference Tournament title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

• Other than seniors Trey Pinkney and Thomas Walkup, only one other member of the 'Jacks' ranks started all 34 games in 2015-16 - freshman forward TJ Holyfield.
• Getting stronger as the season progressed, Holyfield put the finishing touches on his freshman campaign by pumping in a career-high 15 points in Stephen F. Austin's NCAA Tournament second round game against Notre Dame.
• Providing a much-needed defensive presence in the low post, the versatile stretch four blocked 50 shots as a first-year player - good for an average of 1.5 per game.
• Those 50 rejections ranks as the third-most in a single season in the 'Jacks' history books and put the sophomore in eighth place on SFA's career blocked shots list. The Albuquerque, N.M., product needs to rack up 15 more to move into fifth place all-time in program history.

• Increasing its streak of appearances on the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon to three-straight years, the 'Jacks' return to Nacogdoches on Tuesday, Nov. 15, for a 10:00 a.m. tip-off against Big South opponent Longwood. The battle between the Lumberjacks and Lancers will be televised nationwide on ESPN2 from William R. Johnson Coliseum. In games televised nationally on ESPN2, the 'Jacks are 0-3 with losses coming to Stanford (3/19/13), and Northern Iowa on two occasions (11/17/15 and 11/18/14). The only pair of wins Stephen F. Austin has had in nationally televised tilts have come on CBS and TruTV in the 2016 and 2014 editions of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship Tournament.