Lumberjack Game Notes: vs Lamar
March 7, 2012
No. 2 Stephen F. Austin vs No. 3 Lamar
GAME TIME: The Lumberjacks moved into the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament for the fourth time in the last five years with a win over Sam Houston State in the tournament's opening round, but now will have to take on No. 3 Lamar for a berth in the tournament finals, who used a 10-0 run in the final minutes to take down Northwestern State in the second quarterfinal.
LAST GAME: Stephen F. Austin shot 55.6 percent from the floor and outscored Sam Houston State by 15 in the second half to win its sixth game in a row and advance in the Southland Conference Tournament with a 68-46 win in the first round on Saturday afternoon at the Leonard E. Merrell Center. SFA, the No. 2 seed who had knocked off the No. 7 Bearkats in both regular season meetings, got a game-high 13 points from Antonio Bostic, Darius Gardner and Jonathan King to move past SHSU and advance to the tournament's semifinals for the fourth time in the past five years. The `Jacks just made 10 field goals in each half, but came away with a stark advantage at the foul line, hitting 24-of-30 attempts on the afternoon after hitting just 17-of-38 tries in its regular-season finale on Saturday at home. The Bearkats attempted just seven foul shots for the afternoon. Sam Houston led by as much as three points in the first half, but SFA closed out the opening period on an 10-2 run and then delivered a knockout blow to the SHSU chances midway through the second half with a 13-1 run after SHSU had cut the lead to just four points.
THE CARDINALS: Since dropping a 62-52 decision to SFA late In the league season, the Cardinals have been red hot, winning their last three regular season games to earn a share of the SLC East title before knocking off Northwestern State In the first round to advance to Thursday's quarterfinals. That run has already propelled them to their first 20-win season since 1988, led by three all-SLC selections (Mike James, Anthony Miles and Devon Lamb).
vs. Lamar: SFA's win in Beaumont on Feb. 22 gave SFA the edge in the all-time series, albeit a slight one at 25-24. The 'Jacks are 10-7 against the Cardinals in Danny Kaspar's tenure as head coach.
COVERAGE: Thursday’s game can be heard on Q107.7 FM with Rob Meyers on the call, or watched live on the Southland Conference TV Network, which is MYTX (Channel 8) in Nacogdoches.
UP NEXT: With a win SFA would advance to take on the winner of No. 1 UT Arlington and No. 4 McNeese State in the tournament finals set for Saturday at 2:05 p.m. on ESPN2.
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, NOT SO FAMILIAR PLACE: Thursday will mark the 50th meeting between the 'Jacks and Cardinals, but it has been rare that it has happened in postseason play. In fact, the teams have only met one time in the Southland Conference Tournament, when the Cardinals eliminated SFA, 53-36, in the 2002 SLC Tournament.
HISTORY OF NO. 2 SEEDS: The No. 2 seed in the Southland Tournament has won six times in the event's 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.
SOUTHLAND SUCCESS: SFA is 6-3 in its last three Southland Tournament appearances. The ’Jacks have been in the championship game in two of the last three years, winning it in 2009 and losing last season.
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 Wednesday's win over Sam Houston the Lumberjacks picked up their 20th win of the season, which is 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 31 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 -- 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 entered 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 Conference 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 category 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 3-for-4 in Saturday’s win over Northwestern State, and leads the Southland with a league-leading field goal percentage of .696, 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).
GET CONNECTED, FOR FREE: In Saturday's regular-season finale the 'Jacks were abysmal from the charity stripe, hitting just 17-of-38 tries in a 10-point win over Northwestern State; however, it was the polar opposite on Wednesday vs Sam Houston State when the 'Jacks connected on 24-of-30 shots from the free-throw line. The 24 makes are the second most for SFA in a game this season, and the most against a Division I team with the season high being 27 vs UT Tyler.
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 in the Division-1 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 semifinals riding a season-long six-game win streak with wins in eight of its last nine overall. In that span SFA has, like always, done it with defense in holding its last nine opponents to just 50.6 points per game. That includes three under 50 points.
PEE WEE'S PLAYHOUSE: Rivalry games have a tendency to bring out the best in players, and that is certainly the case for guard Darius Gardner. The Houston Yates product has had some of his best showings against Sam Houston State, including his 13-point output against the 'Kats in Wednesday's SLC Tournament quarterfinal. Gardner tied his career high with three triples in the win over the 'Kats, backing up his three threes in SFA's second regular season win at SHSU a week earlier. He has 10 games in his two years in which he has scored at least 10 points, with three of those coming in games vs Sam Houston State.
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 18-1 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 led the SLC with a +7.2 rebound margin in the regular season with Lamar a distant second, ranking SFA 14th in the nation in that category. Of SFA’s 31 opponents this year, 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.
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 nine of his last 11 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.
BELOW FIFTY: SFA held 10 opponents below 50 points last season, and have held five opponents under 50 this season, most recently allowing just 36 points to Southeastern Louisiana on Jan. 7. In 12 seasons under Danny Kaspar the Lumberjacks have held an opponent to 50 points or fewer on 57 occasions, losing just five of those games.
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 eight 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 second win over the Islanders, 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.
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.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER: Since the Southland Conference began divisional play in 2006-07, SFA has won three of a possible six division championships. The ’Jacks won the Southland West in 2008 and won the East Division title in 2009 and 2010.
CLAMPING DOWN: SFA returned to William R. Johnson Coliseum on Dec. 30 to take a 57-point win over UT-Tyler, holding the Patriots to just 36 points in the victory. The 36 points was the lowest for a Lumberjack opponent since SFA held ULM to 36 points last season, a mark that is the second-lowest defensive showing in the Danny Kaspar era and that was matched less than 10 days later when SFA held Southeastern Louisiana to just 36 points as well. The lowest in the era was when SFA held Huston-Tillotson to just 33 points during the 2007-08 season.
HAVE A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS: The ‘Jacks had 24 assists on 29 made baskets in its 74-48 win over Alabama State. The 24 assists are the most assists by a Lumberjack team in a single game since it had 24 dimes on March 2, 2006 at Sam Houston State. Junior point guard Hal Bateman had eight assists in the game vs the Hornets, marking just the fourth time in the past three seasons SFA has had a player with eight assists in a single game.
KASPAR GETS 200: Danny Kaspar closed out the 2010-11 season just one win shy of 200 for his career at Stephen F. Austin, but it did not take him long to register that win this year as the ‘Jacks got him the win in front of a home crowd with a season-opening, 84-43, win on Friday vs Centenary. He is already third all-time at SFA in head coaching wins, trailing only Marshall Brown (345) and Bob Shelton (245).