SFA starts league play with Saturday's game against Incarnate Word

SFA starts league play with Saturday's game against Incarnate Word

From the Stephen F. Austin State University Athletic Department

NACOGDOCHES, TX (News Release) - Following four consecutive tilts with Southland Conference representatives from the state of Louisiana to begin its league slate, the Stephen F. Austin State University men's basketball team will get its first crack at a conference foe from the Lone Star State Saturday evening at 6 p.m. when Incarnate Word enters William R. Johnson Coliseum.

Prior to the Cardinals' arrival inside the Coliseum, there's little doubt that voice of the Lumberjacks Rob Meyers will have entered the facility and set up his equipment to provide play-by-play and analysis of the action both on the ESPN3/ESPN app video stream and over the airwaves on Q107.7 FM in Nacogdoches. Meyers' call can also be heard nationwide via the TuneIn app.

Not only will the 'Jacks be in search of their second-straight win against the Cardinals Saturday evening, they'll be aiming to keep their record against UIW perfect at home. SFA is 4-0 against Incarnate Word inside William R. Johnson Coliseum with the average margin of victory in those games sitting at 17.3 points.

Of the seven games in the all-time series between the two clubs, SFA has lost just one of them. That setback occurred last season in San Antonio when the Cardinals hit a last-second three-pointer to claim a 70-68 triumph. The 'Jacks hold a scoring margin of +15.3 in the all-time series.

With their Wednesday night win over defending the Southland Conference regular-season champion New Orleans, the 'Jacks were able to keep pace with Wichita State out of the American Athletic Conference for the title of most in-conference wins since the state of 2012-13. Both the 'Jacks and Shockers have gone 84-10 (.894) in conference tilts during that span which represents the highest number of conference wins and the best in-conference winning percentage through that time period.

SFA hiked its winning streak inside William R. Johnson Coliseum to 11 games following Wednesday night's victory, too, which is tied for the 21st-longest active home winning streak in the nation. It's also the third-longest active winning streak by an NCAA Division I men's basketball team in the state of Texas surpassed only by Texas Tech (12 games) and Texas Southern (26 games). SFA is 81-3 at home since 2012-13, good for a nation-leading winning percentage of .964.

Both of the Cardinals' leading scorers average fewer than 13 points per game headed into a game where UIW hopes to put an end to a six-game losing streak in 2017-18 and a five-game losing streak against Southland Conference adversaries. Charles Brown III leads UIW with a scoring average of 12.7 while freshman Christian Peevy is averaging 12 points per game. Peevy is coming off a 24-point outing in a loss to Central Arkansas and as a team, the Cardinals' scoring offense ranks seventh in the league by averaging 74.8 points per game.

A little over half of the Cardinals' points come off of either layups, dunks, tip-ins or mid-range jumpers. Incarnate Word gets 53.1-percent of its points from two-pointers, 23.1-percent of its points from the free throw line and 23.8-percent from three-point land. This season, the Cardinals are shooting .329 from three-point range and average 5.9 long-range buckets per game which puts them at 10th in the Southland in both categories.

Through their current five-game losing streak in Southland Conference games, the Cardinals have led for just 24:15 out of a possible 200 total minutes of game time or 12.1-percent of the time. Of those 24 minutes and change, 22:16 came in an 85-74 loss at Sam Houston State last Saturday.

There are not very many teams across NCAA Division I men's basketball that are better at blocking shots than Incarnate Word. The Cardinals lead the Southland Conference and rank 34th nationally with an average of 5.1 blocks per game. Leading the way in that category is Shawn Johnson (1.71 per game, 82nd nationally).

No team in the Southland Conference possesses a more accurate touch at the free throw line than Incarnate Word. The Cardinals shoot at a collective rate of 74-percent from the foul stripe while is also the 74th-highest percentage in all of NCAA Division I men's basketball.

The Cardinals are one of four Southland Conference teams who rank in the bottom nine nationally in terms of turnover percentage on offense. According to college basketball analytics specialist Ken Pomeroy, Incarnate Word turns the ball over on 24.5-percent of its possessions, ranking it 346th out of 351 NCAA Division I basketball teams in that category.

Thanks in large part to a big-time shooting performance by senior Ivan Canete, who finished with a team-high 23 points, the 'Jacks led wire-to-wire and handed defending Southland Conference champion New Orleans its first league loss of the season with a 78-68 triumph.

As part of his big night, Canete either set or equaled season highs in eight statistical categories. The Lake Worth, Fla., product established new 2017-18 highs in points (23), field goal attempts (13), three-pointers made (five), three-pointers attempted (eight), free throws made (six) and free throws attempted (eight). Additionally, Canete finished with six rebounds and a blocked shot, both of which equaled season-high marks.

In all, four 'Jacks finished with 10 or more points in the triumph including TJ Holyfield (15), Ty Charles (12) and Kevon Harris(11). Charles' double-digit scoring outing was his second of the season and the senior out of Kennedale, Texas, jumped for a game and season-best nine rebounds in the triumph as well.

Back in the starting lineup, sophomore Aaron Augustin passed out a game-high five of the 'Jacks' 18 assists in 26 minutes of action. The Suwanee, Ga., product also went 3-of-4 from the free throw line - all in the final minute of play - to preserve the win. Wednesday also marked the sixth-straight regular season Southland Conference game in which Augustin did not hit a field goal. The sophomore's last field goal make in a Southland game came on Feb. 25, 2017, in an overtime win at Central Arkansas.

With the win, the 'Jacks posted their first win over a defending Southland Conference champion since the 2010-11 season. That year, SFA bested Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas, by a 63-49 tally after the Bearkats had claimed the league's championship the previous season.

Junior Shannon Bogues finished with eight points, marking just the fourth time this season that the Killeen, Texas, product failed to amass at least 10 points in a game. He and Charles were the only two bench players to record points for the 'Jacks in the win and in all just 25.6-percent (20) of the team's point total came courtesy of bench players.

Although he played with four fouls throughout the majority of the second half, junior TJ Holyfield still found a way to be effective. The Albuquerque, N.M., product snared five rebounds which upped his career total to 490. With just 10 more rebounds he would become the ninth player in SFA's Division I history to grab 500 or more in a career.

The first 7:41 of the game helped the 'Jacks take control of things. In that span, SFA jumped out to a 19-4 lead and held the Privateers to just one field goal make. As a matter of fact, New Orleans did not a field goal for the first 6:17 which marked the second time in the past three games in which SFA didn't allow its opponent to hit a shot in the first five minutes.

For the third time in the last four games, the 'Jacks finished at a disadvantage in terms of rebounding. SFA finished with a rebounding differential of -6 (37-31) at the end of the night, their second-largest deficit of the 2017-18 season. For the season, SFA ranks last in the Southland and 319th out of 351 NCAA Division I men's basketball teams with an average of 22.71 defensive rebounds per game.

SFA put the clamps on reigning Southland Conference Player of the Week Bryson Robinson in the win. Robinson was coming off a 31-point outing on 7-of-8 shooting from three-point range in a win at McNeese. Against the 'Jacks, Robinson was held to just nine points on 3-of-13 shooting which included a 3-of-10 showing from downtown.

On three occasions, New Orleans cut the 'Jacks' lead down to just two points but each and every time SFA had an answer. Canete effectively ended things by connecting on a difficult three-pointer with 4:03 left and sending a bounce pass to Kevon Harris who finished with a two-handed jam to cap a 7-1 run by the 'Jacks to go up by eight, 71-63, with 2:24 left.

With Wednesday night's win, SFA continued its run of recent dominance against foes from the state of Louisiana. Since the start of the 2012-13 campaign, the 'Jacks have posted a 42-9 (.824) record against adversaries from that state and four of those triumphs have come over New Orleans.

The 'Jacks' win over the Privateers mean there is now just one Southland Conference team - Southeastern Louisiana - who has not dropped a league game thus far in 2017-18. The Lions (4-0) are atop the 13-team league followed by both New Orleans and Nicholls who are 4-1 in Southland action. In a tie for fourth place are SFA and Sam Houston State, both of which sport 3-1 records in Southland games.

Thanks to the win, the 'Jacks moved to 10-0 inside William R. Johnson Coliseum this season which extended the team's streak of at least 10 home wins to 13 straight seasons.