March 16, 2013
Game Notes In PDF Format
No. 1 SFA (27-3, 16-2 SLC) vs No. 2 Northwestern State (22-8, 15-3 SLC)
Saturday, March 16, 2013 7:30 p.m. (CT)
Leonard E. Merrell Center (5,500) Katy, Texas
Radio: Q107.7 FM TV: ESPN2 Live Stats: www.Southland.org
The SFA Lumberjacks will have a chance to to earn just the program's second-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday in the finals of the Southland Conference Tournament vs Northwestern State. The game will match the nation's top scoring defense (SFA, 50.4 ppg) vs the nation's top scoring offense (Northwestern St., 81.5 ppg) for the third time this year.
The Last Meeting
March 2, 2013
SFA Holds Off Demons To Take SLC Lead
Desmond Haymon hit a driving go-ahead layup with less than 12 seconds to play and Jalan Wests's three-point try at the buzzer rimmed out, giving the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks a 64-63 win over Northwestern State in a battle of first-place teams at William R. Johnson Coliseum.
The game will be televised on ESPN2 with Carter Blackburn and Mark Adams on the call. The teams split their two meetings earlier this year with just a combined three points separating the teams. However, of the 80 minutes played in this year's series, SFA led for 63:55 of those minutes, inclduing all but 65 seconds of its March 2 win in Nacogdoches.
THE LAST TIME OUT
Top-seeded SFA withstood a three-point barrage from Southeastern Louisiana and put four players in double figures in a 68-57 win over the Lions in the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament. Southeastern, who gave SFA one of just three losses, hit 11 three-point buckets on the night, including eight in the second half; but, the Lumberjacks did their damage inside, outscoring the Lions 34-10 in the paint and adding a quintet of triples of their own.
An SFA win would clinch its second-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament, and first since 2009 with an opponent to be announced on Sunday. Still, should the `Jacks fall, their season will continue in the NIT with that opponent and destination also be announced on Sunday.
The Lumberjacks will be looking to extend their streak of 62 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 all 29 games of this season.
The 'Jacks finished the regular season with a 15-0 home mark, having won 18 games in a row at William R. Johnson Coliseum, a mark tied for fourth 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 130 for his career
SFA is 41-8 since the the beginning of the 2012 calendar year.
The Lumberjacks enter Saturday's game averaging just 50.4 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.
The `Jacks have won seven of the last 10 meetings with the Demons after splitting this year's regular season games. Saturday will mark just the third time the teams have met in the league tournament with Northwestern State having taken the previous three meetings. They have met once in Katy, coming in the 2008 semifinals when No. 1 SFA could not hold a 17-point lead, falling 69-66 to the Demons despite Northwestern State leading for just the final 1:49 of the game.
KATY BAR THE DOOR: Since the Southland Conference Tournament moved to Katy, Texas for the 2007-08 season, the Lumberjacks have seen their fare share of success. SFA is now 8-4 in the Leonard E. Merrell Center after Friday's win over Southeastern, reaching the tournament finals twice and only bowing out after one game just once in 2011. Katy is also the site of SFA's only SLC Tournament win, coming in the 2009 season when it won the event as the No. 1 seed.
SFA AS THE NO. 1 SEED: This year will mark the third time SFA has been the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, all coming since 2008. The `Jacks are now 5-1 in the tournament as the No. 1 seed, including winning three in a row for the title in 2009.
`JACKS IN THE SLC TOURNAMENT: SFA is making its 17th appearance in the Southland Conference Tournament this season, second to only McNese State's 26 appearances among teams currently in the league. The Lumberjacks are 13-15 all-time in tournament action and have made the title game four times, all under head coach Danny Kaspar. SFA is 12-9 in SLC Tournament action under Kaspar.
PREVIOUS PURPLE CROWNS: SFA claimed its third Southland Conference title this season, and second outright crown, all of which will have come under Danny Kaspar and each in the last six seasons. The Lumberjacks previously claimed titles in both the 2007-08 (26-6, 13-3 SLC) and 2008-09 (24-8, 13-3 SLC) seasons, but this is arguably the most dominating run of the three as the `Jacks enter the game of the regular season with just two losses in its 18 league games.
KASPAR NAMED SLC'S TOP COACH: As part of the Southland's annual postseason awards, SFA head coach Danny Kaspar was named the league's Coach of the Year earlier in the week. It is the second time he has been been elected to the honor with the other season coming in 2008, the first of SFA's back-to-back titles. Ned Fowler is the only other SFA coach to get the honor, doing so in 1991.
ALL-DEFENSE MEANS ALL SFA: The Lumberjacks did not sweep the Southland's innaugural all-defensive team, but it came awfully close. SFA, the nation's top scoring defense, took three of the five slots, including Taylor Smith being named the league's defensive player of the year. Antonio Bostic and Hal Bateman were both also placed on the team.
NEVER ENOUGH Ws: With its win over Southeastern, SFA surpassed the 2007-08 squad's 26 wins as the most for the program since joining Division I for the 1986-97 season. The school record is 31 wins set by the 1971-72 Lumberjacks who went 31-3 and captured the Lone Star Conference championship.
SOUTHLAND STRONG SEASON: Not only is SFA's 26 wins this season historical in the SFA record books, but in the Southland Conference books too. This year's SFA squad's 26 wins is the most league history to total 26 before the conference tournament, surpassing the 1985-86 Louisiana Tech squad. The Bulldogs, led that season by future NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone, finished the season 29-3 and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
SFA WITH THE ELITE: SFA dropped just its third game of the season when it fell at Southeastern Louisiana on February 16, but still ranks at the top of the country with its 27-3 record. They are joined by only Gonzaga as teams left in the country with three or less losses.
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 Saturday's game, SFA and Creighton are the only two teams in the country to have used the same starting five in every game.
HOME SWEET HOME: SFA went 15-0 at home this season and ended the regular season having won 18 in a row at William R. Johnson Coliseum, a streak that is tied with Louisiana Tech and Missouri for the fourth longest active home win streak in the country.
ON THE BIG SCREEN: SFA's BracketBusters win at Long Beach State on ESPNU was the first regular season game in SFA's history to be televised on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. Saturday's SLC title game will be SFA's 10th televised game this season, making 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 30 games of 2012-13 to extend its school-record streak of sub-70 defensive performances to 62. 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.
SMITH NOMINATED FOR HENSON AWARD: The honors have come in for senior big man Taylor Smith as last week he was named as one of 25 finalists for the Lou Henson Award, an honor presented by CollegeInsider.com to the top Mid-Major payer in the country. He is the only Southland player to be named to the list and is joined by other nationally-recognized names such as Murray State's Isaiah Canaan, Creighton's Doug McDermott and Saint Mary's Matthew Dellavadova.
BOOM BOSTIC IS BACK: Antonio Bostic had been relatively quiet offensively over SFA's eight games leading into the BracketBuster matchup at Long beach State, reaching double figures just once in those games after a stretch of hitting for at least 10 points in six of his previous seven outings. That silence came to a screeching halt at Long Beach State when Bostic pumped in 21 points against the 49ers, and has reached double figures in the five games since then. In his last four games he is averaging 16.0 points per game and is hitting .453 from the floor.
LEADING THE PACK: With a 27-3 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 27 of its 30 games and won 20 games by double digits; however, of 600 minutes played in the second half, SFA has only trailed for just 34:37 of them, which is just 5.7% of all minutes played in the second period.
`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. 63. SFA is one of two SLC schools to check in on the RPI Top 100, joined by Northwestern State (No. 96) in the Top 100.
HOME DEFENSE: SFA is known for its defensive prowess, but it is even moreso evident when playing at William R. Johnson Coliseum. SFA held its opponents to 50 points or fewer in 22 of 43 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 allowed just 46.8 points per game in 15 home games this season.
SAFE AT HOME: In 13 seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar, the Lumberjacks have compiled a 151-35 (.792) record in the William R. Johnson Coliseum. SFA is 347-126 (.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 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi pushed the `Jacks to 15-0 at home this season, tying the best home mark for SFA since going 15-0 at home in 2003-04. Of those 15 wins, 12 came by double digits.
CLAMPING DOWN: The Lumberjacks were at their defensive best on vs Southeastern in the second half of their first meeting in Nacogdoches, 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.
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 to No. 5 in the latest poll released on Monday. The `Jacks are the only Southland Conference school to make an appearance in the poll this year, and the No. 5 ranking is its highest ever in the poll, eclipsing its No. 6 ranking during the 2007-08 season.
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. The `Jacks matched that margin in its 72-36 win over Central Arkansas.
SITTIN' ON 20: The `Jacks picked up their 20th win of the season on when they knocked off Oral Roberts. This season 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, who was a two-time league defensive player of the year at McLennan CC before coming to SFA, has 88 blocks (3.0 bpg) in 30 games of the season, demolishing 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 3.0 blocks per game currently ranks first in the league and 14th 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 54 of his 197 made shots, a mark which is 27.4 percent of his made shots.
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 (9.1 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.
FIRST HALF KNOCKOUT: As the top scoring defense in the country, the Lumberjacks have managed to hold 10 of their 29 opponents to under 20 points in the first half this season, taking a lead into the break 25 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.
TAYLOR MADE: Senior post Taylor Smith headlined a dominating showing for the Lumberjacks in all-conference voting announced Tuesday, being named both the league's player of the year and the defensive player of the year. He joins former Lumberjacks Matt Kingsley and Josh Alexander as the only three SFA players to ever earn the league's top individual honor. He has been named the league's player of the week three times, and currently leads the nation in field-goal percentage (.694) and is tops in the SLC in blocks per game (3.0 bpg), while ranking in the top five in scoring (15.6 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg). But he was even better in league play, nearly averaging a double-double vs SLC teams with 16.1 points and 9.8 rebounds while shooitng .704. His 12 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 at 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 184 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 it's loss at Southeastern Louisiana. 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 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 also received its first AP vote of the season on Feb. 25, it's first vote in the AP Top 25 since the 2007-08 season as well.
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 26-3 record after 29 games, SFA entered the week third in the nation in defending the three-point line, allowing its opponents to hit just 28.4 percent of its threes as the only team in the Southland holding its opponents to less than 30.0 percent shooting from distance.
KASPAR KOUNTER: Danny Kaspar moved into second place all-time at SFA in coaching victories with his 246th on Friday vs Southeastern Louisiana. That win pushed him out of a tie with Bob Shelton and means he now only trails Marshall Brown (345) on the all-time list. Also, SFA's win over McNeese State gave Kaspar his 450th career win between his time at SFA and Incarnate Word. He currently ranks second among active Southland Conference to Northwestern State's Mike McConathy in career coaching wins.
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 50.4 points per game through its 30 games, holding 21 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 March 11, senior Taylor Smith's .688 field goal percentage led the nation and, and he ranked 10th in the country with 3.0 blocks per game. Meanwhile Hal Bateman's 5.7 assists per game ranked 35th 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 22nd in the nation and leads the Southland Conference with 5.9 assists per game. The school record at SFA is 6.3 set by Winston Harrison in 1981-82.
OU SERIOUS?: SFA's win at Oklahoma snapped a 36-game home win streak over non-conference opponents for the Sooners. Oddly enough, the last win at the Lloyd Noble Center by a Sooner non-conference opponent was in 2007 when the `Jacks escaped Norman with a 66-62 win.
LOW-BALLED: In 13 years under Danny Kaspar, the 'Jacks have held the opposition below 50 points 77 times and lost only five times.