SFA Hits Road For Season Finale
March 7, 2008
NACOGDOCHES, Texas -
SFA at Texas-San Antonio
One For The Road: The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack basketball team will hit the road Saturday for the final game of the regular season. The Lumberjacks will take on Texas-San Antonio in a 2 p.m. game at the Convocation Center. SFA enters the game with a Southland Conference-best 24-4 overall record and an SLC West Division-leading 12-3 mark in league play. The Lumberjacks enter the final day of conference play one game back of Lamar for the SLC title. The Roadrunners bring a 13-15 season mark and a 7-8 record against SLC foes to the contest.
Last Game: SFA bounced back from its first home loss of the season and bounced Texas A&M-Corpus Christi from Southland Conference Tournament consideration with a 71-56 win on Wednesday. The Islanders shot a blazing-hot 72.2 percent in the first period, but still trailed by 12, 44-32, at the half. But SFA cooled A&M-Corpus to 39 percent in the second half and pulled away for the 15-point win. SFA controlled the boards, finishing with a 33-28 advantage overall and a 16-5 margin on the offensive glass. Junior forward Josh Alexander scored 20 points and pulled down eight rebounds to pace SFA. Senior guard Gerald Fonzie hit 4-of-8 3-pointers, including three straight to start the second half, and finished with 16 points. Junior Center Matt Kingsley added 16 points of his own and pulled down six rebounds.
vs. Texas-San Antonio: SFA is 10-22 all-time against the Roadrunners. The Lumberjacks are coming off a dominant 60-39 win in their first meeting this season, but SFA had dropped six straight to the Roadrunners coming into that game. Under head coach Danny Kaspar, the Lumberjacks are 5-9 against UTSA. The series is split at five games apiece over the last 10 regular-season meetings, but the Roadrunners hold a 4-1 edge in the last five games. Under Kaspar, SFA is 1-5 on the road against UTSA, including a heartbreaking, last-second 74-70 defeat in the championship game of the 2004 Southland Conference Tournament.
The Roadrunners: Despite losing Wednesday's game at Sam Houston State, Texas-San Antonio has already assured itself of a berth in the Southland Conference Tournament. At 7-8 in conference play, the Roadrunners are part of a three-way tie for sixth place, but league tiebreaker protocol currently has them entering the tournament as the No. 8 seed.
The Coaches: SFA is led by head coach Danny Kaspar. Kaspar is in his eighth season at the helm for the Lumberjacks. He holds a record of 132-94 (.584) at SFA and has a 351-146 (.706) overall record in his 17th season as a collegiate head coach. Texas-San Antonio is coached by Brooks Thompson. Thompson is 15-37 (.288) in his second season with the Roadrunners and 75-51 (.595) in five years as a collegiate head coach.
Up Next: SFA will begin play in the Southland Conference Tournament with the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championships on the line for the winner. The tournament is scheduled for March 13-16 at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas.
News and Notes
SPECIAL SEASON: SFA's 24-4 mark is the best record for a Lumberjack team since becoming a Division I program in the 1986-87 season. It marks the third 20-win season in head coach Danny Kaspar's tenure and is the highest win total for a Kaspar-coached team to date. The mark is also the best record through 28 games for SFA since the Lumberjacks went 25-3 through 28 games in the 1972-73 season.
RANK AND FILE: SFA moved from No. 6 -- the program's highest ranking ever -- back to No. 9 in Monday's CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll. The Lumberjacks earned 528 points a week after gaining the program's first-ever first-place vote. This is SFA's 13th straight week in the rankings -- the longest stay in school history -- after entering the poll at No. 25 on Dec. 10, following the Lumberjacks' upset win at Oklahoma. SFA then moved up in the poll each week, jumping to 22nd, 16th, then 11th, before cracking the Top 10 for the first time in school history earlier this season.
VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: The Lumberjacks received one vote in Monday's Associated Press Top 25 Poll, marking the second straight week for SFA to earn votes. The 'Jacks got a school-record seven votes in last week's poll and were given two votes in the previous week's poll. SFA received a vote in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll in each of the last two weeks of December. This marked the first time since the 2002-03 season for the Lumberjacks to earn a vote in a national Top 25 poll. That year, SFA earned one vote in the Associated Press poll.
TOP GUNS: As Josh Alexander and Matt Kingsly go, so go the Lumberjacks. SFA's four losses this season have one thing in common: the Lumberjacks' top two scorers have been contained offensively, on average, in all four losing verdicts. While Alexander averages 16.6 points per game in SFA's 24 wins, and Kingsley averages 16.3 points per win, they combine for an average of 26.0 ppg, in the Lumberjacks' four losses. The scoring averages for SFA's next three highest scorers fluctuate less than a full point per game from wins to losses.
DEFENSE FIRST: SFA's defense has been dominant this season. The Lumberjacks have held opponents to an average of 55.1 points per game, which ranked second in the nation through games of March 2. While good defense has long been a mark of Danny Kaspar-coached teams, the Lumberjacks have never finished better than 12th in the national rankings in terms of scoring defense. This season, the Lumberjacks have held 19 opponents to 60 points or fewer and have only allowed three teams to break 70. SFA has held opponents to 38.9 percent shooting from the field and ranked 11th in the country in that category, entering this week's action.
DOUBLE-UP: SFA posted just three double-doubles all of last season -- Josh Alexander had two, and Matt Kingsley recorded one. The Lumberjacks have already surpassed that mark this year with six double-doubles -- each of the first four coming from a different player. Kingsley posted the first with 22 points and 13 rebounds against Jackson State. Nick Shaw then scored 17 points and pulled down 16 rebounds against Louisiana-Monroe, and Eric Bell had 18 points with 11 assists at Northern Illinois three days later. Alexander finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds at Jackson State, then recorded his seventh career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds at Nicholls State. Kingsley scored 13 points with 10 rebounds against Texas State on Feb. 27 for his fourth career double-double.
FOUR OF A KIND: The Lumberjacks have had at least four players hit double digits in scoring in a single game six times this season -- against Jackson State, Louisiana-Monroe, Southern, at Oklahoma and against Paul Quinn. The quadruple-double against Jackson State marked the first time four SFA players hit double digits in a single game since Jan. 11 of last season, when SFA took a 73-72 overtime victory at Lamar. In the Lumberjacks' 79-57 win over Sam Houston State, five players reached double digits -- the first time since SFA's Dec. 30, 2006, win over Howard Payne for SFA to put a quintet in double figures scoring.
DIAL "1" FOR ASSISTANCE: Sophomore point guard Eric Bell (jersey number 1) leads the Southland Conference in assists at 5.7 per game and ranked 32nd in the nation entering this week. He posted a career-high 11 assists at Northern Illinois. That marked the first double-digit assist effort for a Lumberjack since Marcus Clark dished out 10 in a game during the 2005-06 season. Bell also leads the Southland in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.42 and ranked 28th in the nation in that category when the week began.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT: Junior forward Josh Alexander is enjoying a record year in 2007-08. The Shreveport, La., native has scored 15 or more points on 19 different occasions this season, including seven performances with at least 20 points, and has three double-digit rebound efforts. His 16.6 points per game average has him on pace to crack the top 12 on SFA's list of career scoring leaders, and he recently became the all-time leader in career 3-point field goals. Alexander has hit 86 3-pointers this season -- a new career-high for triples in a season -- and has 231 for his career. He broke into the 1,000-point scorers list with his 14th point in SFA's loss at Nicholls State, where he finished with a game-high 18 points.
FAST START: SFA opened the season with a 12-1 record, the best start to a season since the program joined the NCAA Division I ranks. The fantastic start was the best 13-game mark for the program since the 1981-82 season, when the Lumberjacks opened the season with seven straight wins and went on to post a 14-1 record before finally recording their second loss of the season in the 16th game. SFA's 10-game winning streak earlier this season was the program's first double-digit run since the 'Jacks won 13 in a row during the 2002-03 season.
ON A ROLL ON THE ROAD: SFA's 10-game winning streak earlier this season included five straight victories in non-conference road games and a neutral-site win. This marks the first time in program history for the Lumberjacks to win five straight road games against Division I, non-conference opponents. It's the first time since the 1981-82 season for SFA to win more than three straight out-of-conference road games against any level of competition. Overall, the Lumberjacks are 11-3 in games outside of William R. Johnson Coliseum this season.
STINGY ON THE GLASS: The Lumberjacks give up the fewest rebounds per game in the Southland Conference. SFA is currently allowing its opponents just 31.3 rebounds per game.
HOME-COOKED: The Lumberjacks hold a 13-1 record in home games at the William R. Johnson Coliseum and began the season with a 12-game home winning streak. The last time a Lumberjack team won more than three in a row at home to start a season was in 2003-04, when SFA went 16-0 at home as part of a 31-game home winning streak that dated to the previous season and was the longest active streak in the nation by the time it was finally broken.
SAFE AT HOME: In seven-plus seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar, the Lumberjacks have compiled an 88-27 (.765) record in the William R. Johnson Coliseum, including a 13-1 home mark this season. SFA is 284-118 (.706) all-time in the Coliseum. The 'Jacks went 10-5 (.667) at home in 2006-07. SFA defeated UT-Tyler, 63-47, in the 2007-08 season opener. Kaspar's teams are a perfect 8-0 in home openers at SFA.
Scouting the Roadrunners
FOR THE RECORD: Texas-San Antonio brings a 13-15 overall mark and a 6-7 record in Southland Conference play to Saturday's season finale. The Roadrunners have already assured themselves of an SLC Tournament berth, but are fighting for a better seed. San Antonio is currently the No. 8 team in the bracket after getting hot late in the conference season. The Roadrunners opened conference play by losing six of their first eight games, but UTSA has won five of its last seven. The Roadrunners are coming off a 68-37 defeat at Sam Houston State on Wednesday.
LAST GAME: Texas-San Antonio dropped a 68-37 decision at Sam Houston State Wednesday night. It was the third time this season the Roadrunners have been held to fewer than 40 points. The other two sub-40 showings came at Texas and at Stephen F. Austin. UTSA shot 32.4 percent from the field and hit just 12 field goals in the game. Sam Houston outrebounded the Roadrunners, 34-25, and outscored UTSA, 34-8, in the paint. Melvin Smith scored 14 points but was the only Roadrunner in double figures. Keith Spencer added eight points, and no other UTSA player scored more than six.
KEY NUMBERS: Texas-San Antonio takes care of the ball as well as any team in the Southland Conference. The Roadrunners rank second in the league with a plus-3.89 turnover margin. UTSA is also third in the conference in steals, averaging 8.96 thefts per game. But the Roadrunners lag near the bottom of the SLC in scoring, ranking 11th with 64.0 points per contest. UTSA shoots .412 from the field, which is 10th in the SLC, and the Roadrunners allow opponents to shoot .486 from the floor, which ranks last in the league. At 28.6 rebounds per game, UTSA is the only team in the conference to average fewer than 30 boards.
LEADERS: Freshman point guard Devin Gibson is a strong candidate for SLC Freshman of the Year. He leads the Roadrunners and ranks ninth in the league in scoring with 13.5 points per game. Gibson is also second in the conference in assists with 5.12 per contest and leads the SLC with 3.35 steals per game. Senior forward Keith Spencer leads UTSA and ranks 18th in the SLC in rebounding with 5.8 boards per game. Freshman forward JohnMark Ludwick is second in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage, knocking down 43.3 percent of his treys, and junior guard Joey Shank ranks fifth in the league in 3-pointers made with 66.
For the complete release, click on the "UTSA Game Notes" link in the side bar of the Men's Basketball home page.
-- SFA --