Lumberjacks Geared For SLC Tournament
March 12, 2014
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The 2013-14 Southland Conference Coach and Player of the Year in Brad Underwood and junior forward Jacob Parker headline the Stephen F. Austin's men's basketball team heading to the league's postseason tournament in Katy as the top seed.
Underwood, with 29 wins and a Coach of the Year candidate according to ESPN's Seth Greenberg, moved into the NCAA's top 10 best career starts at the Division I level with two wins to close out the regular season. Underwood, currently in eighth place in the all-time list, can pull into a three-way tie with Steve Proh, (Murray State - 31-2, 2012) and Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh - 31-5, 2004) with two wins in the conference tournament. Underwood and SFA (29-2, 18-0 SLC) are also two wins away from the program's all-time mark of most wins in a single season at 31. The 1971-72 `Jacks went 31-3 overall and finished third in the NAIA National Tournament under Marshall Brown. Bill Guthridge recorded the best head coaching start at the Division I level, finishing 34-4 at North Carolina in 1998.
SFA closed out the regular season at or near the top in several win streaks. The `Jacks became just the 18th team in NCAA to navigate a perfect conference schedule of 18 games or more and the third to do so this season, joining No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Wichita State. With the win over UCA in the regular season finale, SFA collected its 33rd straight home victory to remain in a tie with No. 6/7 Duke for the longest active home streak. The `Jacks also extended their overall win streak to 26 games, which ranks second in the nation behind only Wichita St.
In Week 17, SFA closed out its conference road schedule 9-0, the first time the `Jacks have gone undefeated on the road in league play in the Division I era, extending its road wins streak to 12 consecutive game. The 12-game road mark is tied with Wichita State for the nation's lead, while its 14 overall road wins (14-2) lead the country.
The win streaks have garnered much national attention, as SFA remains in the No. 2 spot in CollegeInsider.com's Mid-Major Top 25 poll for a third straight week, the highest ranking in program history.
For a eight straight week, the `Jacks are receiving at least one vote in the USA Today Coaches Poll, now with 17 points, with a feature on the team appearing back on Mar. 5. After its first appearance of the season in Week 15, SFA also continues to receive points in the Associated Press' Top 25. SFA is currently receiving 56 points and is the No. 2 vote getter out of the national rankings. The `Jacks received votes in both polls last season and in the 2007-08 campaign.
Underwood continues to extend his first-year success as program's all-time winningest head coach in their first season with at SFA. With the 74-58 victory at Northwestern State back on Jan. 16, Underwood passed Glen Rose (1948) and John O. Stephens (1952), who both recorded 15 wins back in their respective first seasons. Underwood guided the 29 wins in the regular season, a school and conference record and has the `Jacks one win away from becoming the league's first 30-game winniner. SFA's 29 wins are currently tied with 1984-85 Louisiana Tech team that went 29-3 with an appearance in the Sweet 16.
One of 351 NCAA Division I men's basketball programs in the country, the `Jacks currently rank in the top 10 in both win percentage (2nd-93.5), turnover margin (5th-5.4), scoring margin (7th-13.9) and assists per game (9th-16.5). SFA also ranks 15th in assists-to-turnover ratio (1.47). Defensively, the `Jacks rank 23rd in scoring defense (62.6) and are 47th in scoring offense (76.5).
Other statistics of note, SFA is currently tied for 35th in rebounding margin (4.9) and 37th in the nation in steals per game (7.6).
The `Jacks will await the winner of the second game of the bracket to see who they will play on Friday, Mar. 14. Fifth-seeded Nicholls State and eighth-seeded Southeastern Louisiana open tournament action on Wednesday, with the winnier advancing to play fourth-seeded Northwestern State on Thursday.