'Jacks take aim at top-tier Southland Conference finish in regular season finale vs. Bearkats

'Jacks take aim at top-tier Southland Conference finish in regular season finale vs. Bearkats

SFA Athletics

NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release)

• The latest installment of the basketball edition of the Battle of the Piney Woods holds a number of postseason implications for both Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State when the teams collide inside William R. Johnson Coliseum at 6:00 p.m. Saturday night. The tilt, presented by Nacogdoches Memorial Health, marks the final regular season game for both squads and with a win SFA could lock up, at the very least, a second-place finish in the final Southland Conference standings.

• Lincoln Rose and Jordy Hultberg will be making the trek to Nacogdoches to call every second of action in the clash between the Lumberjacks and Bearkats on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app. Over the airwaves, Rob Meyers will set up shop behind the microphone to provide play-by-play action on Q107.7 FM in Nacogdoches and on the TuneIn app for Android and iPhone users.

• Saturday night's game will also serve as senior night for the 'Jacks' two final-year members: Dallas Cameron and CJ Williams. Cameron is in his fourth season as a member of SFA's men's basketball team and Williams was a member of the team in 2015-16 before a heart condition forced him to discontinue his career prior to the start of the 2016-17 season.

• One of the most decorated players in the history of the program, Cameron is one of only four players in SFA men's basketball history to amass 100 or more career wins. Additionally, the Pompano Beach, Fla., product is part of an elite group of five four-year seniors from around the nation who have lost just one home conference game in their careers so far that includes the likes of New Mexico State's Ian Baker and Kansas trio Landen Lucas, Frank Mason III and Tyler Self.

• The nation's longest in-conference home winning streak came to a disappointing end Thursday night when the 'Jacks fell to visiting Northwestern State 72-67 inside William R. Johnson Coliseum. SFA's loss was its first Southland Conference setback in its home facility in over five years.

• Through the last 5:05, the 'Jacks totaled only one point - a free throw make by sophomore TJ Holyfield that capped a career-high 21-point outing by the Albuquerque, N.M., product. Northwestern State took the lead for good when Ishmael Lane dropped in a layup with 1:34 remaining.

• SFA had two chances to retake the lead in the game's final 90 seconds, but a tip-in attempt by Holyfield and a three-point try by junior Ty Charles each missed their mark. Northwestern State received possession after the ball went out of bounds following each of those shots.

• For the first time in his Stephen F. Austin career, junior forward Leon Gilmore III surpassed the 20-point barrier by amassing a team and career-high 22 points in the setback. The Houston, Texas, product tied his career-best with nine field goal makes and took 15 shots - a new career-best and the most shots taken by an SFA player in a game this season.

• Providing the other half of the 'Jacks' high-scoring interior tandem was sophomore TJ Holyfield. The Albuquerque, N.M., product tied a career-high with 21 points and added a career-high 16 rebounds. Between the two of them, Gilmore III and Holyfield totaled 43 of SFA's 67 points - or 64.2-percent of the 'Jacks' point total.

• Holyfield's 16 rebounds were a season-high by any SFA player and marked the first instance that a 'Jack grabbed 15 or more rebounds since Thomas Walkup racked up 15 of them as part of a triple-double effort at Incarnate Word on Feb. 29, 2016. Holyfield's 16 rebounds were the most by an SFA player in a single game since Taylor Smith grabbed 18 in a 59-39 win at McNeese on Jan. 30, 2013.

• The 'Jacks saw their nine-game winning streak against Northwestern State come to an end as a result of the loss, too. Additionally, it marked the 'Jacks' first conference loss in the month of March since 2011. In that game, the opponent was Northwestern State, too, and the Demons claimed a 70-65 win.

• Northwestern State used a 10-for-24 effort from three-point range to spring the upset win. The 24 three-point field goal tries from the Demons were the most by an SFA opponent this season, and on the other end of the three-point shooting spectrum the 'Jacks connected on only three of their 16 tries from long range - an 18.8-percent success rate.

• Below is a full breakdown of where Stephen F. Austin's points came from in its Southland Conference loss to Northwestern State:
Two-pointers | 62.7% (42-67)
Three-pointers | 13.4% (9-67)
Free throws | 23.8% (16-67)
Points in the paint | 53.7% (36-67)
Points off turnovers | 11.9% (8-67)
Second chance points | 20.9% (14-67)
Starters points | 85.1% (57-67)
Bench Points | 14.9% (10-67)

Depending on results around the Southland Conference on Saturday, the 'Jacks could do any number of things from capturing a share of their fifth-straight Southland Conference title to finishing fifth in the league standings. Below is a link to a detailed list of all possible final seeding scenarios for the Southland Confernece Tournament.
2017 Southland Conference Tie Breaker Scenarios

There isn't more than one individual who averages more than 10 points per game among Sam Houston State's ranks. Dakarai Henderson, a high-volume shooter, is putting in points at a rate of 10.5 per game and has taken 311 of the Bearkats' 1,808 shots in 2016-17. That works out to 17.2-percent of Sam Houston State's field goal attempts, but Chris Galbreath, Jr., and Aurimas Majauskas are also big-time scoring threats for the Bearkats. Each of them is averaging 9.9 points per game and both are shooting at a clip of 48-percent or higher from the field.

Once the game tips off on Saturday night, two of the nation's top-ten turnover forcing teams will be squaring off. Sam Houston State forces 16.7 turnovers per game - an average which is the eighth-best among all NCAA Division I basketball teams and is second only to Stephen F. Austin in the 13-team Southland Conference. The first time SFA and Sam Houston State met, both teams committed 18 turnovers.

Opponents of the Bearkats are hitting just 42.4-percent of their field goals, giving Sam Houston State the best field goal percentage defense in the Southland Conference. On the national scene, that's the 102nd-best field goal percentage defense in NCAA Division I men's basketball.

With one more win, the Bearkats will reach 20 wins for the first time since the 2014-15 season. In that campaign, Sam Houston State posted a final mark of 26-9 and scored a win over UNC-Wilmington in the opening round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The Bearkats' season came to end with a 71-70 loss to Louisiana in the second round of the postseason tourney.

The Bearkats' offense runs through sophomore point guard John Dewey III. No man in the Southland Conference is averaging more assists per game than Dewey III who passes them out at a rate of 5.2 per contest. That's the 47th-best assists per game average in the nation, but when he last met SFA Dewey III was limited to only three assists.

The Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team will try and make a fourth-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament when they head to Katy, Texas, for the Southland Conference Tournament. SFA's game date, time and opponent will be announced by the league following the conclusion of Saturday's games.