MBB Game Notes: at Long Beach State

SFA will be taking on Long Beach State for the third time in the history of the series on Friday.

Feb. 21, 2013

Game Notes In PDF Format

SFA (22-3, 12-2 SLC) at Long Beach State (17-9, 11-2 Big West)
Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 • 8:00 p.m. (CT)
Walter Pyramid (4,200) • Long Beach, Calif.
Radio: Q107.7 FM • TV: ESPNU • Live Stats: www.LongBeachState.com

• SFA will step out of conference one final time before the end of the season on Friday when it travels west for its BracketBusters meeting with Long Beach State. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU with Roxy Bernstein on the call and former Arizona Wildcat Corey Williams on color commentary.

• The `Jacks are currently 1-1 all-time in BracketBusters games, knocking of High Point in 2012 and falling to Louisiana-Lafayette in 2006. This will be its third all-time meeting with Long Beach State, with the 49ers having won each of the previous two meetings.

• SFA reclaimed a share of first place in the Southland Conference on Wednesday with a gritty 50-44 win over Sam Houston State at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum. Hal Bateman hit nine of 10 foul shots and scored 15 points to go with eight assists and two steals for the Lumberjacks, who overcame a slow offensive start and held the lead for the entirety of the second period. Taylor Smith had to work for his eighth double-double of the season, going for 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Jacob Parker added 10 crucial points from the perimeter. The `Jacks held the Bearkats to just 33 percent shooting for the night and hit 11 of 13 foul shots overall. Nathanial Mason and James Thomas each had 14 points apiece for the `Kats, while leading scorer Darius Gatson was held ot just four points. 

• The inside track for the Southland Conference title will be on the line on Saturday, March 2, when SFA hosts Northwestern State. The `Jacks and Demons are currently tied atop the SLC standings with the Demons holidng the breaker.

• The Lumberjacks will be looking to extend their streak of 57 consecutive games of holding opponents under 70 points. SFA went all of 2011-12 without allowing 70 points to an opponent and has done so in the first 25 games of this season.

• SFA's 11-game win streak came to an end at Northwestern State. At the time it was the second-longest active win streak in the country. The `Jacks have also won 15 games in a row at William R. Johnson Coliseum, a mark tied for sixth best in the country.

• Stephen F. Austin and Wisconsin are the only two programs in the nation to be ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense each of the last five seasons.

Taylor Smith has become SFA's all-time shot blocker with 117 for his career

• SFA is 36-8 since the the beginning of the 2011 calendar year.

• The Lumberjacks enter Saturday's game averaging just 49.7 points allowed per game, the lowest mark in the country. No team in the nation has ended the year allowing an average of less than 50 points per game since the 1992-93 Princeton Tigers.

Series Notes
SFA has only faced the 49ers twice with the last meeting being 21 years ago in Nacogodches. LBSU has taken each of the two meetings by an average of 26 points. This will only be the sixth game for SFA ever against a team from the current Big West Conference. SFA is 2-3 all-time against the current Big West with its last win being a 62-61 win over Cal State Fullerton in Nacogdoches in 2009.

SFA WITH THE ELITE: SFA dropped just its third game of the season at on Saturday at Southeastern Louisiana, but still ranks at the top of the country with its 22-3 record. They are joined by Gonzaga, Duke, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Indiana, Duke and Miami (FL) as teams left in the country with three or less losses.   

STREAK BUSTED: An 11-game win streak for SFA came to an end as well at the hands of the Demons, a streak that was the second-longest active win streak in the country at the time. Still, SFA has also won 15 in a row at William R. Johnson Coliseum, a streak that is tied with Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, and Louisiana Tech for the seventh longest home win streak in the country.

SFA IN BRACKETBUSTERS: When SFA takes on Long Beach State on Friday in the Ramada BracketBusters event, it will not be the first time the `Jacks have been in this position before. The `Jacks were a home team in the BracketBusters pool last season and hosted High Point, picking up a 69-62 win as part of a five-game win streak to close out the regular season. Previously, SFA dropped a narrow 66-63 deicsion at Louisiana-Lafayette in the 2006 BracketBusters.

ON THE BIG SCREEN:  SFA's BracketBusters game at Long Beach State on Friday on ESPN U the first regular season game in SFA's history to be televised on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. It also gives SFA eight scheduled TV games this season, which makes this season the most televised season in SFA history, eclipsing the 2008-09 season when SFA was televised seven times in a season in which it went to the NCAA Tournament.

SUB-SEVENTY: SFA held each of its 32 opponents under 70 points in 2011-12, and has done the same in each of its first 25 games of 2012-13 to extend its school-record streak of sub-70 defensive performances to 56. The last team to score 70 on the `Jacks was Northwestern State, when they did so in a 70-65 win over SFA in 2010-11 in Natchitoches, La.

LEADING THE PACK: With a 22-3 record it is logical to think that the `Jacks have played from ahead most of this year, but it is staggering when you break it down. SFA has led at the half of 21 of its 25 games and won 19 games by double digits, but of 500 minutes played in the second half, SFA has only trailed for 32:08 of them, which is just 6.4% of all minuts played in the second period.  

CLAMPING DOWN: The Lumberjacks were at their defensive best on vs Southeastern in the second half of their first meeting, holding the Lions to just 4-for-24 (16 percent) shooting from the field in holding them to just 15 points in the final 20 minutes. Oddly enough, the `Jacks seriously put the clamps on the Lions a year ago as well in the second half, holding Southeastern to just 3-for-16 shooting from the field in holding the Lions to just 36 points, marking the first time since 2008 that SFA had held a Southland opponent under the 40-point plateau. It was the lowest point total by a Southland opponent for the `Jacks in the Danny Kaspar era, and the eighth of 11 times since 2007-08 the `Jacks have kept an opponent under 40 points.

`JACKS IN THE RPI: When the latest NCAA RPI report came out on Monday, the Lumberjacks found themselves with the highest RPI of any team in the Southland Conference at No. 82.  SFA is one of two SLC schools to check in on the RPI Top 100, joined by Northwestern State (No. 85), while Oral Roberts just missed the RPI Top 100 at 110.

RANK AND FILE: SFA got an early Christmas present on Christmas Eve, breaking into the CollegeInsider.com Mid Major Top 25. The `Jacks checked in at No. 25 have moved as high as No. 10 twice, most recently last week before Saturday's loss at Southeastern Louisiana dropped it to No. 11 in the latest poll released on Monday. The `Jacks are the only Southland Conference school to make an appearance in the poll this year, but still have not reached its Mid Major Top 25 peak as it did when it received a first-place vote and peaked at No. 6 in the poll during the 2007-08 season.

SAME `OL, SAME `OL: In addition to defense, consistency has been the name of the game this season for SFA, and it begins with the starting five. The `Jacks opened the season with the starting five of Hal Bateman, Antonio Bostic, Desmond Haymon, Jacob Parker and Taylor Smith and have not varied since the season opener. Entering Wednseday's game at McNeese State, SFA is one of just five teams in the country to have used the same starting five in every game. The others include: SMU, Detroit, Creighton, and Murray State.

CARDINAL RULE: SFA had no issues with downing Lamar in its first meeting this season, blasting the Cardinals by 36 points in a 79-43 win. What was more impressive was the fact that the the 36-point margin of victory was SFA's largest margin of victory in a conference game since SFA joined the Southland Conference for the 1987-88 season.  Recently the `Jacks matched that margin in its 72-36 win over Central Arkansas on Thursday.

SITTIN' ON 20: The `Jacks picked up their 20th win of the season on when they knocked off Oral Roberts. It marks the seventh 20-win season for SFA since becoming a Division I program in 1988, all have come under Danny Kaspar.

TOP OF THE WALL: Taylor Smith has been outstanding as SFA's last wall of defense this year, and the numbers are showing just that. The senior has rejected 36 shots in his last eight games. Smith, who was a two-time league defensive player of the year at McLennan CC before coming to SFA, has 75 blocks (3.1 bpg) in 23 games of the season, surpassing Emanuel Jackson's 61 blocks in 1999-00 as the season record in the Division I era at SFA. Only one Lumberjack has ever led the league in blocks -- Tim Holloway in 1989-90. Smith's 3.1 blocks per game currently ranks first in the league and eighth in the nation.

A DUNK IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS: Typically, Danny Kaspar teams are not known as a high-flying bunch with dunks galore; however, this year's group has the `Jacks singing a different tune. The maestro is senior big man Taylor Smith, who has dunked home 49 of his 169 made shots, a mark which is 28.9 percent of his made shots.

FIRST HALF KNOCKOUT: As the top scoring defense in the country, the Lumberjacks have managed to hold nine of their 25 opponents to under 20 points in the first half this season, taking a lead into the break 21 times; however, SFA did itself one better at McNeese State, holding the Cowboys to just nine points in the opening 20 minutes en route to a 26-9 halftime lead. The nine points scored was the first time an SFA team has held an opponent to single digits in a half since Central Arkansas scored just seven points in a win in Nacogdoches during the 2008-09 season. That mark is tied for the fourth-lowest first-half total in the country this year.

HOME DEFENSE: SFA is known for its defensive prowess, but it is even moreso evident when playing at William R. Johnson Coliseum. SFA has held its opponents to 50 points or fewer in 20 of 40 games at home in the last three seasons, allowing just 51.6 points per game at home in 2010-11 and 53.1 points per game in 2011-12. It is allowing just 45.8 points per game in 12 home games this season.

SAFE AT HOME: In 12-plus seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar, the Lumberjacks have compiled a 148-35 (.792) record in the William R. Johnson Coliseum. SFA is 344-126 (.840) all-time in the Coliseum. SFA has recorded eight straight seasons and 11 campaigns in last 12 years with double-digit wins at home after its win over Nicholls pushed the `Jacks to 12-0 at home this season, which is the best home mark for SFA since going 15-0 at home in 2003-04.

TAYLOR MADE: Senior post Taylor Smith scored his eighth double-double this season with 13 points and 10 rebounds in SFA's win at Sam Houston State. He has been named the league's player of the week three times, and currently leads the nation in field-goal percentage (.707) and is tops in the SLC in blocks per game (3.1 bpg), while ranking in the top five in scoring (15.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.9 rpg). But he has been even better in league play, nearly averaging a double-double vs SLC teams with 16.6 points and 9.6 rebounds while shooitng .754. His eight double-doubles on the year are behind only Oral Roberts' Damen Bell-Holter for tops in the Southland.

DEFYING LOGIC: It stands to reason to think that a team which both outrebounds and outshoots its opponent has amplified chances to pull out a victory. Such has been the case for this year's SFA squad, leading the Southland in both field-goal percentage and rebound margin; however, its loss to Northwestern State defied that logic as the `Jacks both outshot (41.7% to 36.8%) and outrebounded (43 to 35) the Demons and still fell in defeat. It was just the sixth time in 182 games since the 2007-08 season SFA has outshot and outrebounded an opponent and still been defeated.

HALF WAY THERE: The `Jacks were not at their best when playing from behind in 2011-12, but were exceptional when playing from out in front. That was most evident by the fact that the `Jacks went 19-1 a year ago when taking a lead into the half. Conversely, SFA was 1-11 when trailing at the break. This season had followed suit with the `Jacks winning each of their first 19 games of the year when leading at the break before Saturday's loss at Southeastern. In that game SFA held a 23-21 lead at the midway point before eventually falling 54-50.

VOTES OF CONFIDENCE: After two weeks without a vote, the `Jacks once again received a pair of votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll released on February 11. It was the the second time this year SFA has received votes in the poll, and the first year SFA had received votes since getting votes in both the AP and Coaches Polls during its 2007-08 SLC title season. The `Jacks were also ranked No. 1 in the first UPS Team Performance Index, also released on Jan. 21, which measures efficiency and teamwork to highlight teams that are well balanced across America. SFA came in at No. 3 in this week's UPS TPI report, trailing only Florida.

DEFENDING THE ARC: A year ago the `Jacks allowed opponents to hit 33.3 percent of their shots from behind the arc, a mark which was near the bottom of the SLC. This season things have been drasticsally different. In addition to sporting an 21-2 record after 23 games, SFA is tops in the SLC in defending the three-point line, allowing its opponents to hit just 27.0 percent of its threes.

DEFENSE FIRST: The Lumberjacks finished third in the nation in scoring defense at 54.7 points per game allowed in 2011-12, a new school record. SFA has finished the year ranked among the top 10 in scoring defense in each of the last five seasons, including leading the nation in 2011 with 56.7 points per game and No. 2 rankings in both 2008 and 2009. This year has been no different as SFA is leading the nation in scoring defense again, allowing just 49.7 points per game through its first 24 contests, holding 18 of its opponents below 60 points. No team in the country has managed to average allowing less than 50 points per game since the 1992-93 Princeton Tigers.

AMONG NATION'S BEST: As a team the `Jacks are right at the top of the country in scoring defense, but the `Jacks also have a pair of individuals who are near the top of the country's statistical rankings as well. As of the latest NCAA statistical report released on Feb. 11, senior Taylor Smith currently sports a .712 field goal percentage, which leads the nation, while Hal Bateman's 6.0 assists per game ranks 21st in the country.

HAL DO YOU DO?: Senior point guard Hal Bateman dished out a career-high 11 assists in SFA's season-opening win over Howard Payne, the most for a Lumberjack since Eric Bell had 11 dimes in a road win at Northern Illinois during the 2007-08 season. Three games later he doled out another 10, making him the first `Jack since Marcus Clark in 2004-05 to have multiple games in the same season with 10+ assists. In addition, he ranks 16th in the nation and leads the Southland Conference with 6.2 assists per game. The school record at SFA is 6.3 set by Winston Harrison in 1981-82.

CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARDS: SFA did not have a single player in the Southland Conference top 10 in rebounding in 2011-12, but this year sports the league's No. 2 rebounder in Taylor Smith (8.9 rpg) and is tops in the league in rebound margin by a wide gap, pulling down 7.4 rebounds per contest more than its opponent.

KASPAR KOUNTER: Danny Kaspar picked up his 200th win at SFA in last year's season opener vs Centenary and currently stands third all-time at SFA in head coaching wins with 240, trailing only Marshall Brown (345) and Bob Shelton (245). With at least six games left on the slate, it's still very possible that Kaspar moves past Brown for second on the all-time list at SFA by season's end. Also, SFA's win over McNeese State gave Kaspar his 450th career win between his time at SFA and Incarnate Word, second among active Southland Conference to Northwestern State's Mike McConathy.



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