SFA begins last week of regular season with Thursday night battle against Northwestern State

SFA begins last week of regular season with Thursday night battle against Northwestern State

SFA Athletics

NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release)

• Hoping to maintain their standing as the second-place team in the Southland Conference standings, the Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team returns to William R. Johnson Coliseum where they welcome in longtime Louisiana rival Northwestern State for an 8:00 p.m. Southland Conference showdown sponsored by Etech on Thursday night.

• As has been the case for all of SFA's home games since the beginning of the 2015-16 season, Thursday night's game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app. Longtime SFA play-by-play announcer Rob Meyers will be stationed behind the microphone, and his call of the game will be broadcast locally on Q107.7 FM in Nacogdoches and nationwide on the TuneIn app.

• In their penultimate regular season game of the 2016-17 campaign, SFA is tied with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for second place in the Southland Conference standings, but hold the tiebreaker over the Islanders by virtue of a 2-0 record against them this season.

• In order to capture a share of their fifth-straight Southland Conference title, the 'Jacks need some assistance. League-leading New Orleans is one game ahead of SFA and needs to lose one of its two remaining games. If that happens and SFA wins both of its remaining games, the teams would be tied for first in the conference standings.

• Now that the calendar has turned over to the month of March, the 'Jacks are trying to make it six years in a row without a regular season Southland Conference loss in that month. SFA's last regular season loss in the month of March came back on March 5, 2011, when the 'Jacks fell 70-65 to Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La.

• Northwestern State's fading hopes of making it to the 2017 Southland Conference Tournament received a boost last week when guard Zeek Woodley made his return to the Demons' lineup. Woodley suffered a broken wrist back on Dec. 22, 2016, and that injury caused the high-scoring senior to miss 15 games - including Northwestern State's first meeting of the season with the 'Jacks back in early February. This season, Woodley is averaging 18.3 points per game and is 26 points shy of taking over as the program's all-time leading scorer.

• In all, opposing defenses have three double-digit scorers to worry about when scouting the Demons. Along with Woodley, both Sabri Thompson (13.5 ppg) and Ishmael Lane (10.9 ppg) average north of 10 points per game. Lane also serves as Northwestern State's top rebounder (6.3/game) and its best shot blocker (0.7/game).

• Opponents of the Demons have not had to take a great number of contested shots. Northwestern State's field goal percentage defense ranks last in the Southland Conference and 323rd out of 351 NCAA Division I men's basketball teams by allowing foes to hit 47.4-percent of the field goals they attempt.

• In Southland Conference games only, Northwestern State ranks dead last in the 13-team league in three statistical categories: scoring defense (81.6 ppg), field goal percentage defense (47.3-percent), and three-point field goal percentage defense (39.5-percent). In their last 52 conference games, all but three of the Demons' foes have scored 70 or more points.

• When they enter William R. Johnson Coliseum, the Demons will be trying to put an end to two stretches of futility on the road. Northwestern State seeks to win its first road game in the month of March since 2014 and pick up their first win over SFA in Nacogdoches since March 5, 2011.

• Down by 10 points with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, the Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team staged a furious comeback to force overtime and hit all six of its free throw attempts in the final 26 seconds of the extra session to escape the Farris Center with a wild 90-85 victory over Central Arkansas last Saturday night.

• The 90 points scored against Central Arkansas marked the first time SFA put up 90 or more in a Southland Conference game since March 3, 2016. On that date, the 'Jacks amassed 95 points and hammered Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La., by a 95-55 tally.

• UCA, meanwhile, accomplished something few Southland Conference teams have done in recent memory and that is break the 80-point barrier when playing SFA. The Bears' 85 points represent the most points SFA has surrendered in a Southland Conference game since Feb. 28, 2015. On that date, Houston Baptist put in 87 points in a 102-87 Lumberjack victory and since the start of the 2001-02 season, SFA has given up 80 or more points in a Southland Conference game on just five occasions.

• Junior guard Ivan Canete busted out of a three-point shooting slump and put in a team-high 16 points by drilling five of his 11 shots. Entering Saturday's game, Canete was only 1-for-11 (9.1-percent) from beyond the arc in his last four games combined, but went 3-for-7 (42.9-percent) in the 'Jacks' win.

• Not solely limited to scoring, Canete also passed out a game and career-high eight assists in SFA's come-from-behind Southland Conference triumph. Those eight assists are the most by any SFA player in a single game this season and represent the most passed out by a 'Jack in a game since Trey Pinkney dished out an equal number in SFA's NCAA Tournament second-round game against Notre Dame on March 20, 2016.

• Before he fouled out late in the second half, sophomore TJ Holyfield recorded his team-leading sixth double-double of the season on the strength of 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. It was the second double-double in a road game for Holyfield, and the 'Jacks are now 5-1 when the Albuquerque, N.M., product finishes with a double-double.

• SFA captured its first lead of the second half when senior Dallas Cameron rose up from 30 feet away and connected on a three-pointer to make matters 71-70 with 1:27 remaining in regulation. Cameron finished with 12 points in the win, giving him 10 or more points for the first time since getting 11 in on Feb. 16, 2017 against Lamar.

• Chances at overtime looked extremely slim as Central Arkansas guard Mathieu Kamba stood at the free throw line for a go-ahead attempt with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation. Fortunately for SFA, Kamba missed the try and overtime was all but ensured. Coming into the game, UCA was the Southland Conference's top free throw shooting team, but hit only 15 of their 32 tries (46.9-percent) in the loss. Kamba was 2-for-10 (20-percent) from the line.

• SFA scored nine of the first 10 points in the overtime session to take an eight-point lead with 3:17 left, but Central Arkansas responded with 10-1 run of its own. That run, capped by a three-point play from Kamba, handed the Bears an 85-84 lead with 40 seconds to go.

• After the Bears took their only lead of the extra frame, Canete started SFA's 6-0 run to close the game with a pair of free throw makes. UCA went 0-for-2 from the field and 0-for-4 from the free throw line the rest of the way, preserving SFA's victory.• Freshman guard Aaron Augustin logged 17 minutes in SFA's road victory and established a new career high by pulling down five rebounds. The Suwanee, Ga., product hit a three-pointer in the overtime period - his first long-range hit since Feb. 2, 2017, at Sam Houston State. Three of Augustin's five three-pointers have come in road contests.

• In all, five 'Jacks finished with 10 or more points in the win. Over the past two seasons, SFA's 4-0 in games where five or more players score 10 or more points.

• With the win, the 'Jacks improved their all-time record against Central Arkansas to a perfect 16-0. The Bears are the only current member of the Southland Conference that SFA has never lost to, but SFA's last two victories against Central Arkansas have come by two points and five points respectively - the two smallest margins of victory in the history of the series.

• SFA's tilt against the Bears upped the number of overtime games the 'Jacks have played in this season to two. In those games, SFA's is 2-0, marking the 16th season in program history that SFA has gone undefeated in overtime games. This is SFA's first season playing two or more overtime games since 2013-14 when the 'Jacks needed an extra five minutes to settle games between Marshall and VCU. The highest number of overtime game SFA has ever played in a single season is five, back in the 1990-91 campaign. That season, the 'Jacks posted a 2-3 record in games that required an extra frame.

• Below is a full breakdown of where Stephen F. Austin's points came from in its Southland Conference victory at Central Arkansas:
Two-pointers | 46.7% (42-90)
Three-pointers | 33.3% (30-90)
Free throws | 20% (18-90)
Points in the paint | 40% (36-90)
Points off turnovers | 20% (18-90)
Second chance points | 18.9% (17-90)
Starters points | 67.8% (61-90)
Bench Points | 32.2% (29-90)

• Over the past five games, freshman Kevon Harris has become an integral part of the 'Jacks' winning equation.

• Through that span, the guard/forward out of Ellenwood, Ga., has scored in double digits on four occasions and is averaging 12.8 points per game on the strength of 60-percent (18-for-30) shooting.

• As a result, he has been SFA's first option off of the bench. Harris' current streak of four straight game with 10+ points is the longest of his career.

• No player in the Southland Conference has exceeded the assist-to-turnover ratio of senior Dallas Cameron in league games this season.

• Cameron's assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.0 in Southland Conference games represented the third-highest number in the league.

• Through his young career, sophomore TJ Holyfield has turned into one of the best low-post defenders in the history of SFA's basketball program.

• The Albuquerque, N.M., product has 85 blocked shots to his credit so far in his collegiate basketball career, putting him in fifth-place all-time in the 'Jacks' record book. Holyfield is just the fifth player in the history of the program to notch 80 or more blocked shots in a career.

• Holyfield's 35 blocked shots this season lead the team and are the seventh-most among all Southland Conference players. The sophomore is averaging 1.3 rejections per game, good for eighth in the 13-team league and 154th nationally.

• Should the 'Jacks defeat Northwestern State on Thursday night, Dallas Cameron will try to become the only current four-year senior in all of NCAA Division I men's basketball to never lose a home game on Saturday night when Sam Houston State comes to town for a 6:00 p.m. showdown inside William R. Johnson Coliseum.

• The game will serve as SFA's senior day, and Cameron along with CJ Williams will be recognized in a postgame ceremony. Williams played for SFA in the 2015-16 season, but a medical condition forced him to the sidelines for the 2016-17 campaign.