Lumberjack Game Notes: vs Sam Houston State
March 6, 2012
No. 2 Stephen F. Austin vs No. 7 Sam Houston State
GAME TIME: The Lumberjacks will open up the Southland Conference Tournament as the No. 2 overall seed on Wednesday when it takes on No. 7 Sam Houston State at noon. SFA locked up the second seed on Saturday with a win over Northwestern State while the Bearkats picked up a win at Texas State in the regular-season finale to earn the tournament’s final berth.
LAST GAME: The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks learned of their fate entering next week’s Southland Conference Tournament even before tipping off on Saturday, then proceeded to knock off Northwestern State, 62-52, behind 18 points from Antonio Bostic in the regular-season finale at William R. Johnson Coliseum. SFA will enter next week’s tournament riding a five-game win streak after its win over the Demons, and will do so as the No. 2 overall seed in the event and will meet up with No. 7 Sam Houston State for the third time this season in the first round. No team will enter the tournament with a longer current string of wins to its credit after league-leading UT-Arlington fell for the first time in league play to UTSA as well. The `Jacks were locked into the No. 2 seed before the game started by virtue of Lamar’s win over McNeese State earlier in the afternoon, but still managed to hold Northwestern State to just 39.1 percent shooting on the night behind a quartet of players in double figures. Bostic’s 18 led the way, 13 of which came in the second half, but SFA also got 14 from Desmond Haymon and a dozen apiece from big men Jereal Scott and Taylor Smith.
THE BEARKATS: Sam Houston went on the road for a 63-61 win over Texas State on Saturday in a game in which the winner would earn the league’s final postseason berth. It is the 10th straight season SHSU has qualified for the tournament. They rank second in the league, only behind SFA, in scoring defense and are led in scoring by sharpshooting guard Konner Tucker at 12.0 points per game.
vs. Sam Houston State: SFA has knocked off Sam Houston State in each of the team’s previous meetings, including a 58-47 win in Huntsville last Wednesday. Still, SFA trails the all-time series 99-94, and has been eliminatedin the tournament each of the last two seasons by the Bearkats. SFA is 8-16 vs SHSU in Danny Kaspar’s tenure as head coach.
COVERAGE: Wednesday’s game can be heard on Q107.7 FM with Rob Meyers on the call, or watched via SLC Now at www.southland.org
UP NEXT: With a win SFA would advance to take on the winner of No. 3 Lamar and No. 6 Northwestern State in the tournament semifinals set for Thursday at 6:05 p.m.
AS THE NO. 2 SEED: SFA enters the tournament as the No. 2 overall seed for the third time after having also done so in 2010 and 2003. Each of those seasons they advanced to the tournament’s championship game before losing to the top seed, Sam Houston State, both years.
FAMILIAR FOE: The ‘Jacks may have a pair of wins over Sam Houston State this season, but have not fared nearly as well in the conference tournament over the years. SFA is just 1-4 all-time against the ‘Kats, having only won in the 2004 tournament as the No. 4 seed in an 85-53 win. This will mark not only the second consecutive season, but also the second season all-time in which SFA has taken on SHSU in the tournament’s first round.
HISTORY OF NO. 2 SEEDS: The No. 2 seed in the Southland Tournament has won six times in the even’ts 31-year history. The last time a No. 2 seed won the tournament was in 2005 when Southeastern Louisiana knocked off top-seeded Northwestern State in the title game.
HOME SWEET KATY: Since the SLC Tournament relocated to the Merrell Center in Katy, the ‘Jacks have seen their fare share of success. SFA is 6-3 in the four previous tournaments in Katy, including its lone SLC Tournament title in 2009. The ‘Jacks had won at least one game in the SLC Tournament before last year’s first-round exit.
SITTIN’ ON 20: With another win the Lumberjacks would pick up their 20th win of the season, which would be the sixth 20-win campaign for the ‘Jacks since becoming a Division I program in 1988. All six of those 20-win seasons have come under Danny Kaspar.
SUB-SEVENTY: SFA has held each of its 30 opponents under 70 points this season, setting a new school record for the longest streak of sub-70 defensive performances to open up a season. In fact, SFA is the only team remaining in the country to have not allowed 70 points in a game to a single opponent. The last team to score 70 on the ‘Jacks -- Saturday’s opponent, Northwestern State, when they did so in a 70-65 win over SFA last year in Natchitoches.
DRAW IT UP: The Lumberjacks have to be happy with its side of the bracket for this year’s Southland Conference Tournament, primarily since each of SFA’s four losses are on the opposite side of the bracket. SFA is 4-0 against its half of the eight-team field, including 2-0 against its first-round opponent Sam Houston State.
ALL-CONFERENCE ‘JACKS: The Southland Confernce announced its all-conference teams on Tuesdsay with a pair of Lumberjacks finding their way onto the teams - Antonio Bostic and Jereal Scott. Bostic was named to the first team, making him the seventh Lumberjack in history to be named to the league’s first team. Scott was the fifth in that cateogry after being selected as a first-teamer last year, but this year landed on the second team as a senior. They give head coach Danny Kaspar 20 all-conference choices in his tenure.
TAYLOR MADE: Junior post Taylor Smith went 5-for-8 in Saturday’s win over Northwestern State, and leads the Southland with a league-leading field goal percentage of .710, with the next closest to him being Sam Houston’s Steven Werner, a former teammate of Smith at McLennan CC. No Lumberjack has led the Southland in field goal percentage since Ron Banks did so in 2001 (.593), while no player in the Southland has shot greater than 70 percent for the year since Nothwestern State’s Jethro Owens did so in 1991 (.714).
SCOTT’S SWANSONG: Senior Jereal Scott played his final game at William R. Johnson Coliseum on Saturday, finishing with 12 points and five rebounds against Northwestern State. That total gave him enough points to pass Marcus Clark for fifth at SFA in points scored in the Division I era, after he already became the eighth player int the D1 era at SFA to eclipse the 1,000- point plateau earlier this season.
BEAST AGAINST THE EAST: In five-plus years of divisional play in the Southland Conference, SFA has only lost one home game to a team from the Southland East Division. That was a 67-57 decision against Northwestern State in 2006-07, the first year of divisional action. Since then, the ’Jacks have reeled off 18 straight home wins against the East. SFA is 21-1 at home against East Division teams, and has a 32-8 overall mark against teams in that division.
BLOCK PARTY: With 10 rejections in its win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the ‘Jacks matched its highest single-game block total since 2007, thanks in large part to big man Taylor Smith. The 6-6 junior swatted away a career-best seven Islander shots in the gam, setting a new high-water mark for single-game blocks by a Lumberjack in the Danny Kaspar era. In addition, Smith’s 39 blocks on the season tie him with Demetrius Floyd and Matt Kingsley for the third-most in a single season at SFA in the Division I era. Emmanuel Jackson holds the single-season record with 61 set in 1999-00.
BIG D: The ‘Jacks enter the SLC Tournament riding a season-long five-game win streak with wins in seven of its last eight overall. In that span SFA has, like always, done it with defense in holding its last eight opponents to just 51.7 points per game. That includes a pair under 50 points.
HOME DEFENSE: SFA held its opponents to 50 points or fewer in nine of 16 games at home last season, and allowed just 51.6 points per game at home in 2010-11. In 15 games at home this year SFA is allowing just 53.1 points per game, including just 36 points to Southeastern Louisiana and UT-Tyler.
AN “A” FOR EFFICIENCY: It was hard to have a better night offensively than SFA had at home vs Texas A&M-Corpus Chrisit, especially in tne second half. SFA shot a season-high 61.1 percent from the field in the game and 79.4 percent in the second half alone. It was the highest single-game field goal percentage for the ‘Jacks since they shot 63.0 percent vs Jackson State in 2007, and just the second time since 2006 that it has shot at least 75.0 percent for a half.
A DOUBLE DOUBLE-DOUBLE: The ‘Jacks had just four double-doubles on the year entering Saturday after totaling 12 in 2010-11. SFA added two double-doubles to that total vs Texas A&M-Corpus Christi as Jonathan King had 14 points and a career-best 10 rebounds and Taylor Smith flirted with the first SFA triple-double since 1973, picking up 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks.
EXTRA SPECIAL: The ‘Jacks are 2-0 in overtime games this season after knocking off Nicholls in OT, making SFA 6-1 in its last seven overtime games dating back through the 2008-09 season. Despite the extra five minutes, SFA was still able to hold the Colonels to just 58 points to mark the fourth time since the 1983-84 season that the ‘Jacks have held a team under 60 points in an overtime game.
HALF WAY THERE: The ‘Jacks have not been the best at playing from behind this year, but have also been pretty solid when playing from out in front. That could not be more evident than the fact that the ‘Jacks are 17-1 this season when taking a lead into the half. Conversely, SFA is 1-10 when trailing at the half with its lone come-from-behind win being at Texas State to open league play. The only loss in that stretch came on Feb. 15 when it squandered a 13-point halftime lead to league-leading UT Arlington.
CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARDS: SFA may not have a single player in the Southland Conference top 10 in rebounding, with Taylor Smith’s 6.2 rebounds per game leading the team, but as a team no group has been better in the SLC on the boards than the ‘Jacks. SFA is tops in the SLC with a +7.2 rebound margin through 30 games with Lamar a distant second, ranking SFA 14th in the nation in that category. Of SFA’s 30 opponents, only three have managed to pull down more rebounds than the ‘Jacks, McNeese State being the only team in 16 league games to outrebound the ‘Jacks.
SAFE AT HOME: In 10-plus seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar, the Lumberjacks have compiled a 136-35 (.794) record in the William R. Johnson Coliseum. SFA is 332-126 (.724) all-time in the Coliseum. Its win over High Point gave SFA ist 10th home victory this season, meaning SFA has now recorded seven straight seasons and nine campaigns in last 10 years with double-digit wins at home.
45-MINUTE MAN: In both of SFA’s overtime wins over Sam Houston State and Nicholls, junior guard Antonio Bostic was the only man on either squad to never see the sideline during the game. Bostic played all 45 minutes of each game, marking the most minutes played by any Lumberjack since Josh Alexander played all 55 minutes in a 112-111 SFA win over North Dakota State in triple OT in the 2008-09 season at the Drake Hy-Vee Classic. He has played at least 40 minutes in eight of his last 10 games and is third in the league in minutes per game with 34.1.
DEFENSE FIRST: The Lumberjacks led the nation in scoring defense at 56.7 points per game allowed in 2010-11. SFA has finished the year ranked among the top 10 in scoring defense in each of the last four seasons, including No. 2 rankings in 2008 and 2009. The best defensive season by a Lumberjack team in the Division I era was 2008-09, when SFA held the opposition to 56.1 points per game. This year they are right back where they have been accustomed, leading the SLC and ranking fourth in the nation in scoring defense at 54.8 ppg
DISTANCE LEARNING: SFA has had its struggles from beyond the arc, ranking last in the Southland with a 28.4 percent three-point mark; however, the ‘Jacks have made their living inside the arc as they lead the league with an overall 44.9-percent field goal percentage as a team this season.
HI, MY NAME IS ____: SFA has just four returning players — including two starters — from last season. But with two of the four being sophomores, SFA has only six years of Division I basketball experience on the 2011-12 roster. That figure is tied for the fourth-fewest years of D-I experience in the nation.
BOUNCING BACK: SFA is 14-6 over the last two seasons in games following a loss. Over the last five seasons, the ’Jacks are 25-0 in home games following defeats. The last time SFA dropped two straight games with the second loss coming at home was the 2006-07 season, when the ’Jacks fell at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, then lost at home to UTSA in the regular-season finale.
HOMEWRECKERS: Of SFA’s seven wins away from Johnson Coliseum this season, two of them have stung the opponent deeper than normal. SFA picked up its first road win at UTEP on Nov. 26 with a 53-35 verdict over the Miners, holding UTEP to its lowest point total at home since the school opened up the Don Haskins Center in 1976. Most recently, SFA went to San Marcos and stole a 66-65 win at Texas State, snapping the Bobcats’ 16-game home win streak, which spanned more than a calendar year and was one of the top 10 such streaks in the country.
HELPFUL HAND: SFA dished out 24 assists in its win over High Point, with 10 of those coming from junior guard Antonio Bostic. The junior’s previous career high in assists was just five going into the game, and he became the first ‘Jack to hit double figures in assists since Eric Bell had 11 dimes in a win at Northern Illinois on Nov. 24, 2007. Bostic also totaled 11 points in his effort, giving him his first career double-double.
FIVE & DIMES: As part of SFA’s efficient night on the offensive end vs Texas State, the ‘Jacks also got plenty of help from multiple sources. That includes three ‘Jacks with at least five assists apiece as part of SFA’s 21 total assists against the ‘Cats. Hal Bateman (6), Antonio Bostic (5) and Darius Gardner (5) each had at least five assists, marking the first time an SFA team had three players with at least five dimes in the same game since Feb. 16 1998 when David Henry (6), Tysmon Jolivett (6) and Aaron Radl (5) pulled it off in a three-point loss to Nicholls
LOW-BALLED: SFA held Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to just 41 points in it’s win over the Islanders on Saturday, but it was the 46 points A&M-Corpus Christi put up in its win over SFAin 2011 that tied for the fewest points by a Lumberjack opponent in an SFA loss over the last 11 seasons. In 12 years under Danny Kaspar, the ’Jacks have held the opposition below 50 points 57 times and lost only five times.
HAL-UTATIONS: Hal Bateman had scored just four points on four free throws before the final minute of SFA’s win at Texas State, but the junior point guard hit three critical free throws to give SFA its first lead of the game with under a minute to go. Then, after the ‘Cats had retaken the lead, Bateman dribbled the length of the court to hit just his second three-point bucket of the season with 0.5 seconds remaining in the game for a one-point SFA win.
BATTLING BACK: SFA trailed 15-2 just minutes into its game at Texas State, and went into the locker room down 34-27 before battling back to take a 66-65 win at the buzzer. It was the first time this season that SFA has won a game when trailing at the half after previously being 0-7 when behind after 20 minutes of play.
LOW POINT: The 40 points SFA scored against Sam Houston State in last season’s match-up with the Bearkats set a Johnson Coliseum record for fewest points scored by the ’Jacks. The previous record was 41 in a 52-41 loss to Southeastern Louisiana in February of 1995.
KING FOR A NIGHT: After going a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and 5-for-7 from the foul line, Jonathan King finished SFA’s game at Central Arkansas with a career-high 19 points and also matched his season high with eight rebounds for the third time this year. It was a rare feat not only for King, but also SFA, as his night was the first time an SFA player had been perfect from the field with at least seven field goal tries in a game since Ben Hunt was a perfect 10-for-10 from the field at ULM on Jan. 5, 2002. Oddly enough, teammate Taylor Smith did him one better on Saturday vs High Point when he went a perfect 8-for-8 vs the Panthers.
CLAMPING DOWN: SFA held Southeastern Louisiana to just 36 points in its win over the Lions, holding its third opponent of the season under the 40-point mark. It was also the first time since 2008 that SFA has held a Southland opponent under the 40-point plateau, and is the lowest point total by a Southland opponent for the `Jacks in the Danny Kaspar era.