'Jacks Set To Take On Syracuse

March 18, 2009

MIAMI, Fla. -


SFA vs. Syracuse
Friday, March 20, 2009 • 12:15 p.m. (est)
American Airlines Arena • Miami, Florida
Radio: Q107.7-FM • Television: CBS • Online: ® March Madness® on Demand


Madness: The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack basketball team will begin its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Championships Friday with a first-round game against Syracuse. The Lumberjacks (24-7) go into the tournament as the No. 14 seed in the South Region. Syracuse (26-9) is the No. 3 seed and is ranked No. 15 in the most recent ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll. SFA is coming off a second consecutive regular-season Southland Conference championship and earned its NCAA Tournament berth with the program's first SLC Tournament title. Syracuse reached the championship game of the Big East Tournament after finishing sixth in the league's regular season.

Last Game: Matt Kingsley scored 20 points to earn Southland Conference Tournament MVP honors and, more importantly, lead his team to a 68-57 win over UTSA in the tournament championship game. The senior was 8-of-13 from the floor and pulled down six rebounds to average 24 points and 9.5 rebounds in the three-game tournament. Sophomore Eddie Williams came off the bench for 16 points, including 10 in the second half, and senior Josh Alexander added 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Alexander led the squad with seven rebounds. Williams and Alexander both joined Kingsley on the all-tournament team. Junior point guard Eric Bell served up a season-high nine assists. The Lumberjacks shot 54 percent from the field and held UTSA to 41.2 percent for the game and a 25.9-percent effort from 3-point range. Behind Kingsley's play in the post and Williams' dribble drive, the 'Jacks posted a 34-20 advantage in the paint. SFA never trailed in the second half and led by as many as 13 points. Sophomore Devin Gibson scored 23 points to lead UTSA.

vs. Syracuse: Friday's tournament match-up will mark the first meeting between Syracuse and SFA. The Lumberjacks' 76-75 loss at South Florida in the 2004-05 season opener is the program's only contest against a current member of the Big East.

The Orange: Syracuse won three straight Big East Tournament games, including a pair of overtime victories, to reach the championship game with Louisville. The Orange dropped a 76-66 decision to Louisville, the NCAA Tournament's No. 1 overall seed. Syracuse has played four overtime games in its last 10 contests, including a six-overtime, 127-117 win against Connecticut in the second round of the Big East Tournament. The Orange followed that performance with a 74-69 overtime win against West Virginia to reach the title game. Syracuse went 11-7 in Big East regular-season play to earn the conference's No. 6 seed. The Orange lead the nation in field goals with 1,032 for the season and rank sixth in the country in shooting percentage at 48.8. Syracuse's 81.1 points per game rank sixth nationally.

The Coaches: SFA is led by head coach Danny Kaspar. Kaspar is in his ninth season at the helm for the Lumberjacks. He holds a record of 158-103 (.605) at SFA and has a 377-155 (.709) overall record in 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach. Syracuse's Jim Boeheim is 797-287 (.735) in his 32-year Hall of Fame career.

Up Next: A win would move the Lumberjacks into the second round to face the winner of Friday's game between No. 6 Arizona State and No. 11 Temple. The second-round contest is scheduled for Sunday at the American Airlines Arena.


CHAMPIONSHIP EFFORT: Playing in its third Southland Conference Tournament championship game, SFA finally broke through for the program's first trip to the NCAA Championships. The Lumberjacks' 68-57 win over UTSA erased the memory of two prior title game defeats by a combined total of seven points. SFA has made three SLC Tourney championship appearances in the last seven seasons, trailing only Northwestern State's four showings in that period, among league teams.

CLOSE CALLS: The Lumberjacks missed out on an NCAA Tournament berth in their two previous title game appearances, but not by much. SFA dropped a heartbreaking 69-66, overtime loss at Sam Houston State in 2003. In the 2004 game at UTSA, the 'Jacks suffered a 74-70 defeat. In all, the two losses have been by a combined total of seven points.

TOURNEY TRENDS: In three SLC Tournament games, the Lumberjacks averaged 66.0 points. With seniors Matt Kingsley and Josh Alexander each averaging 19.7 and 18.3 points, respectively, SFA's top two players accounted for 58 percent of their team's offense in the tournament.

PLAYING LIKE A KING IN KATY: Senior Matt Kingsley has posted five of the best peformances in his life in the last two SLC Tournaments, both hosted at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas. In five games in his last two tournament appearances, the Houston native averaged 21.4 points and 10 rebounds. For his efforts in the 2009 tourney -- 24.0 points, 9.5 boards -- Kingsley was named the SLC Tournament MVP.

ALL-TOURNAMENT: Matt Kingsley, Josh Alexander and Eddie Williams were each named to the 2009 SLC All-Tournament team, with Kingsley taking the program's first tourney MVP honor. Including his all-tournament team selection a year ago, Kingsley became the first player in program history to make the All-SLC Tournament team in consecutive seasons. Coming into the 2009 tourney, SFA had posted just four all-tournament team honorees total.

DYNAMIC DUO: Seniors Josh Alexander and Matt Kingsley are SFA's career leaders in scoring, rebounding and field goals at the Division I level (since 1986-87 season). Alexander is No. 1 in points (1,726) and rebounds (679) and ranks second to Kingsley in field goals (558). Kingsley is No. 2 in scoring (1,500) and rebounds (633) and is the proram's all-time leader in field goals (558). At last report, no other program in the country can claim two players who have spent their entire careers together and rank Nos. 1 and 2 in any of those categories, let alone all three.

HISTORY: Senior forward Josh Alexander is the first player in SFA's Division I era and just the sixth Lumberjack all-time to record 1,500 points and 500 rebounds. Alexander has accumulated 1,726 points and 679 rebounds in four seasons. Classmate Matt Kingsley became the seventh SFA player to post those totals when his 20-point performance in the SLC Tournament title game moved him to 1,500 career points. Kingsley has accumulated 633 rebounds.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Matt Kingsley was named the 2009 SLC Player of the Year after leading SFA to a second straight Southland Conference regular-season championship. Kingsley's honor comes on the heels of classmate Josh Alexander being named the league MVP a year ago. This marks the first time since the 1992 season for two players from the same team to earn SLC Player of the Year honors in consecutive years.

CHAMPIONS: With SFA's 66-62 win at UTSA in the regular-season finale, the Lumberjacks locked up the program's first ever undisputed Southland Conference championship. SFA shared the league title with Lamar a year ago but finished the 2008-09 season alone atop the Southland standings. This marks the first time since the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons for SFA to win back-to-back conference titles. Prior to this season, SFA had won back-to-back conference titles eight times in program history with all eight coming in Lone Star Conference play and none of the eight having occurred during the Lumberjacks' NCAA Division I era, which began in 1986-87. SFA won a program-record six straight Lone Star titles between 1931-32 and 1936- 37.

HALF THE BATTLE: SFA overcame a five-point halftime deficit (26-21) to take a 66-62 win at UTSA in the regular-season finale. This marks the first time this season for the Lumberjacks to win after trailing at the half. SFA is 1-3 when behind at halftime and is 1-2 when tied at the break.

ALL-DISTRICT: Senior center Matt Kingsley was recently announced as a first-team selection to the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 23 team. Kingsley is the first Lumberjack to be named to the team since Antonio Burks earned a second-team nod in 2004 and is the only player in head coach Danny Kaspar's tenure to earn a spot on the first team.

ON THE REBOUND: Senior Matt Kingsley pulled down 17 boards in SFA's SLC Tournament first-round win over Southeastern Louisiana. That total eclipsed the 14 he grabbed at UTSA in the season finale for a new career-high. With 633 career rebounds, Kingsley becomes just the 11th player in school history to pull down at least 600 boards, joining classmate Josh Alexander (679) in that club.

GOOD START: SFA opened on a 10-0 run and held a 33-7 halftime lead over Central Arkansas in the Lumberjacks' 61-39 win. The seven points are the second-fewest allowed in a first half this season, just missing the national mark of six set by Ohio State in a win over Samford in November. The NCAA record for fewest points in a half is four, recorded by Savannah State in a game against Kansas State last season. Central Arkansas shot just 14.3 percent (3-for-21) in the first period, by far the lowest first-half shooting percentage by an SFA opponent this season.

LOW POINT: In nine seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar, SFA has held 36 opponents to 50 points or fewer. SFA held the competition below that level nine times in 2007-08. The previous best under Kaspar was four games in a single season with fewer than 50 points. So far this season, the Lumberjacks have limited 10 opponents to fewer than 50 points, including three totals below forty points. Seven of the top 10 performances for points allowed have been recorded this season.

BETTER HALF: SFA held Central Arkansas to seven points in the first half of the Lumberjacks' 61-39 win. This marks the lowest one-half point total given up to an opponent in nine seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar. The `Jacks have held opposing teams below 20 points in a single half 36 times under Kaspar and are 34-2 in such contests. SFA held eight opponents under 20 points in a half during the 2007-08 campaign and has done so nine times this season.

MIS-FIRE: SFA held Central Arkansas to 22.4 percent shooting in the Lumberjacks' 61-39 win. That ties the season-low percentage Jarvis Christian shot against the 'Jacks earlier this season.

SITTIN' ON TWENTY: In addition to a guaranteed piece of the SLC title, SFA's win over Central Arkansas gave the Lumberjacks their second straight 20-win season and the fourth in nine seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar. At 24-7 overall, SFA is the only team in the Southland Conference with single digits in the loss column.

SAFE AT HOME: In nine seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar, the Lumberjacks have compiled a 101-27 (.789) record in the William R. Johnson Coliseum. SFA is 297-118 (.716) all-time in the Coliseum. SFA defeated Howard Payne, 77-38, in the season opener. Kaspar's teams are 9-0 in home openers at SFA. The Lumberjacks finished the 2009 home slate with a perfect 13-0 record, marking the fourth straight season and the sixth time in seven years for SFA to post double-digit wins at home.

BANK ON IT: Josh Alexander scored a season-high 25 points at A&M-Corpus Christi. In three games at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Alexander has averaged 23 points, breaking 20 on two occasions.

AKPAN'S ACCURACY: Including his 5-for-5 performance at A&M-Corpus Christi, senior Benson Akpan connected on 15 consecutive field goal attempts over a recent seven-game stretch, before going 2-for-6 from the field against Central Arkansas. In all, Akpan has posted a perfect shooting performance six times this season and is connecting on 61.2 percent from the field.

BOARDED UP: Nick Shaw pulled down 19 rebounds in SFA's 45-38 win over Southeastern Louisiana. The 19 rebounds are a career-high for Shaw and mark the highest single-game total in the Southland Conference this season. There have been just 46 single-game performances in the nation this season of 19 or more rebounds. Shaw is the only player in the country to have grabbed more than 18 boards in a sinle game without scoring a point. Including the 16 boards he recorded against Louisiana-Monroe last season, Shaw has now recorded the top two single-game marks for rebounds in nine seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar. The next-best total is the 15 posted by Ransom White against McNeese State during the 2000-01 season, Kaspar's first with SFA. Shaw has pulled down double-figure rebounds in three of the last six games.

DOUBLING UP: Coming into SFA's game with Nicholls State on Jan. 17, Matt Kingsley had posted seven career double-doubles, but had never recorded double-doubles in consecutive games. He rectified that with 18 points and 11 rebounds against the Colonels to follow a 16-point, 11-rebound outing at Central Arkansas the game before. Three weeks later, Kingsley repeated the back-to-back double-double feat with 12 points and 11 boards against McNeese State, followed by 17 points and 11 rebounds in the rematch with Nicholls State. Kingsley recorded 21 points and 10 rebounds against Southeastern Louisiana in the regular season, then got the Lions for 13 points and a career-best 17 rebounds in the SLC Tournament. He has now posted 12 career double-double performances.

ON TARGET: McNeese State shot 56.4 percent from the field in the Cowboys' 59-56 win over SFA. That marks the best shooting percentage by a Lumberjack opponent this season and the first time in Southland Conference play for an opponent to shoot better than its season average against the 'Jacks. The last time an SFA opponent shot better than 56 percent came in the 2006-07 season, when Texas A&M-Corpus Christi hit 59.5 percent in a 70-62 win over the Lumberjacks. SFA had gone 63 straight games without allowing a foe to shoot better than 56 percent.

SHOOTING STRUGGLES: While the Cowboys were filling up the bucket at their end of the floor, SFA stumbled to a 38.2-percent effort at the other end. The Lumberjack have shot worse than 40 percent nine times this season and won only three times in those contests -- their 45-38 verdict against Southeastern Louisiana (38.3 percent), their 59-51 win at Northwestern State (35.7 percent) and their 43-41 home win over McNeese (30.2 percent).

HIGH-LOW: December's 112-111 triple-overtime win against North Dakota State marked the most combined points (223) in a Lumberjack game in nine seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar. Since the beginning ofSouthland Conference play, SFA has played in the two lowest-scoring games of Kaspar's tenure. In January, the Lumberjacks took a 43-41 win over McNeese State (84 combined points). In February, the Lumberjacks knocked off Southeastern Louisiana, 45-38 (83 combined points). SFA has played in 15 games over the last nine seasons that had a combined point total of fewer than 100 points. The 83 points against Southeastern are the lowest combined total since SFA took a 44-33 win at Abilene Christian in the 1981-82 season. The Lumberjack head coach in that game was Harry Miller, one of Kaspar's mentors in the coaching world.

RANK AND FILE: SFA finished three spots outside the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll with 30 votes. Three weeks ago, the 'Jacks fell out of the poll for the first time in over a year. SFA spent 25 consecutive weeks in the poll after breaking in during December of the 2007-08 season. SFA began this season at No. 11, the first time in the poll's 10-year history for SFA to enter the season as a ranked team and the highest entry to the poll for a Lumberjack team to date. In December, SFA was ranked No. 10, marking the earliest move into the top 10 for the `Jakcs since the poll began. SFA spent a program-best 15 consecutive weeks ranked in last year's Mid-Major Top 25. The `Jacks climbed as high as No. 6, including a first-place vote, on Feb. 25 of last season, and finished the season ranked 14th.

TRIPLE-DOUBLE: For the first time in nine seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar, three Lumberjacks pulled down double-figure rebounds. Matt Kingsley, Josh Alexander and Nick Shaw grabbed 10 boards apiece in SFA's 59-51 win at Northwestern State, as the Lumberjacks out-rebounded the Demons, 39-37.

TWENTY-SOMETHING: Josh Alexander scored a game-high 21 points at Northwestern State. He came into the game having averaged 6.5 points per game in the four previous contests. That included a string of three straight games without reaching double digits in scoring, matching the longest such run of his career. Alexander's last 20-point effort had come Dec. 12, when he dropped a season-high 24 against North Dakota State in a triple-overtime win. The 14 games between that performance and his 21-point effort at Northwestern State were one game short of tying for the longest such streak of his career, when he went 15 games between 20-point outings as a sophomore. Including his three 20-point performances in the last five games, Alexander has broken 20 points 26 times in his four-year career.

FIFTEEN BELOW: In 15 of 16 regular-season Southland Conference games, SFA held its opposition below that team's season average for field goal percentage. Ten of those 16 foes were squeezed to worse than 40 percent shooting. The Lumberjacks pace the SLC and rank third in the nation in field goal percentage defense at 37.2 percent.

CUTTIN' IT CLOSE: SFA's 43-41 win over McNeese State was the fifth game this season with a final margin of two points or fewer. Only 13 of the Lumberjacks' games this year have been decided by fewer than 10 points. SFA is 4-1 this season in games decided by two points or fewer. Last season, only two games had margins of two points or fewer, and SFA lost both contests.

THREE OF A KIND BEATS A FULL HOUSE?: The Lumberjacks' top three individual scorers -- Matt Kingsley, 25; Benson Akpan, 12; Eddie Williams, 11 -- in SFA's 73-45 win over Northwestern State combined to outscore the Demons, 48-45, on their own. This marks the sixth time this season and the second time in SLC play that SFA's top three scorers tied or beat the opponent's final score.

HIGHS IN THE SINGLE DIGITS: SFA held Northwestern State without a double-digit scorer in the Lumberjacks' 73-45 win, marking the second time this season SFA has posted such a performance. The `Jacks also held Jarvis Christian without a double-figure scorer. SFA has held the opposition to fewer than two double-figure scorers on eight occasions this season, winning all eight times.

ON THE DOWN-LOW: SFA scored a season-high 52 points in the paint against Northwestern State. The Lumberjacks are 15-1 when they score at least 28 points in the paint. SFA is outscoring the opposition down low by an average of 6.2 points per game.

SPRAINED ARCHES: SFA held Northwestern State to an 0-for-11 showing from 3-point range in their first meeting this year. That marks the first time this season for the `Jacks to hold the opposition without a 3-point field goal. The last time an SFA foe came up empty from 3-point range was the 0-for-4 performance by San Diego last season. The `Jacks have limited three opponents to one 3-pointer this season. SFA is among the nation's leaders in 3-point field goal percentage defense, holding the opposition to 27.1 percent from downtown.

ALL IN: All 15 SFA players touched the floor in SFA's home win over Central Arkansas, marking the fourth time this season that every Lumberjack in uniform has seen playing time.

MOVIN' ON UP: In a five-game stretch earlier this season, senior center Matt Kingsley jumped five slots on the list of career scoring leaders at SFA. He was 20th all-time heading into the Drake Hy-Vee Classic but came away from the Arkansas Jim Thorpe Classic 16th and moved into a tie for 15th with 1,151 career points following SFA's game at Texas Tech. Kingsley currently ranks eighth all-time with 1,480 career points.

BENCHED: The SFA bench outscored the Nicholls State reserves, 11- 0, in the Lumberjacks' 55-40 home win. The Colonels' top two scorers combined for 29 points with the other three starters accounting for 11 points, but none of the four substitutes who touched the floor found the scoring column. This marks the only time this season for SFA to hold the opposition's bench scoreless.

QUADRUPLE-DOUBLE: Four different Lumberjacks reached double figures in scoring in SFA's win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. That marked the eighth time this season for the Lumberjacks to accomplish that feat. SFA is 14-2 in games when at least three Lumberjacks reach double digits in scoring.

WIDE-OPENER: SFA's 75-73 win over Sam Houston State in the Southland Conference opener marked the highest combined point total of the season for a game that ended in regulation. The 73 points allowed are the most given up by SFA outside of its 112-111 triple-overtime win against North Dakota State. The game also marked the just the second time this season for the Lumberjacks to give up 60 or more points in regulation and win. SFA is now 3-4 in such situations this year.

WELL, FOR STARTERS...: Four SFA starters reached double digits in scoring, and the starting lineup accounted for all but six points in the Lumberjacks' 75-73 win over Sam Houston State. Josh Alexander played all 40 minutes and Nick Shaw and Eddie Williams each logged 39 minutes. The only subs to take the floor in the contest were Girod Adams, Walt Harris and Benson Akpan.

BLOCK PARTY: The Lumberjacks contributed to Jarvis Christian's season-low 22.4-percent effort by blocking a season-high 10 shots. This marks the first time in nine seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar for an SFA team to record double-digit blocked shots. Matt Kingsley posted a career-high five blocked shots, and Benson Akpan tied a season-best with three blocks in the game.

SCORE!: The 93 points SFA put up in its 93-54 win over Austin Peay are the most scored in regulation by a Lumberjack team this season and the most points in regulation against a Division I opponent since SFA beat Centenary College, 94-57, in the 2005-06 campaign.

SCORING SPREE: The 223 combined points SFA and NDSU scored is the highest combined total in an SFA game since the Lumberjacks' 123- 103 loss to San Francisco in the 1994-95 season.

HIGH POINT: The 111 points scored by North Dakota State are the most given up by a Lumberjack team in nine seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar. The previous best for an opponent during the Kaspar era was the 92 scored by Arizona State in the season opener of the 2001-02 season, Kaspar's second at SFA. The 78 points the Bison scored in regulation are the most allowed by SFA in a regular-season game since the Lumberjacks beat Northern Illinois, 86-78, in 2006-07.

WORKING OVERTIME: SFA's triple-overtime win against North Dakota State is the longest game in SFA's 23 years as a Division I program and the longest contest played by an SFA team since the Lumberjacks took a quadruple-overtime win against Southwestern, 101-99, in 1983. SFA is now 28-33, all-time, in overtime games. The Lumberjacks are 6-4 in their last 10 overtime contests.

NO SHOT: The Lumberjacks dominated Texas College in the second half of their 83-42 victory. The Steers were just 2-for-22 from the field -- both 3-pointers -- in the final 20 minutes for a second-half shooting percentage of .091. That's the lowest single-half average of the season, and it left Texas College with a .308 shooting percentage for the game, the third time in four contests an SFA opponent had shot worse than 35 percent.

REMEMBERING A LUMBERJACK LEGEND: In memory of Marshall Brown, who passed away over the summer, the Lumberjacks will wear a black band on the left shoulder of their game jerseys during the 2008-09 season. Brown coached men's basketball at SFA from 1959-1978 and is the school's all-time winningest coach with 345 career victories.

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