Saturday, Feb. 5 • 7 p.m. CT
American Bank Center (8,100) • Corpus Christi, Texas
RADIO: 1230 AM, 103.3 and 96.1 FM (Steven King)
LIVE VIDEO/STATS: GoIslanders.com
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team welcomes Northwestern State to the Coastal Bend for its 2011 Homecoming game on Saturday, Feb. 5, at the American Bank Center. The Islanders are coming off a 72-52 loss to Nicholls in what has been a trend of alternating wins and losses over the last six games. Against the Colonels, Demond Watt had a solid game with 16 points, seven boards and three blocks, but no other player was able to crack double digits. The Islanders are 4-1 all-time against the Demons, including a 2-1 mark in the Perry Clark era.
Northwestern State has won three of its last four and five of its last seven. However, the Demons are 5-1 against East Division foes this year and 0-2 (Texas State and UTSA) against teams from the West. The Demons knocked off Central Arkansas their last game, 85-78, in Nachitoches. Will Pratt scored 23 points and Devon Baker added 20 in the win. William Mosley flirted with a triple-double with 12 boards, nine points and seven blocks.
• Senior Demond Watt leads the Southland Conference with nine double-doubles on the season, and is just shy of averaging double-digit boards at 9.5 per outing. He is second in the Southland and 30th nationally in that statistic. He has also had 20 points and 10 boards five times this season. However, he has gone two straight games without a double-double.
• Arizona transfer Garland Judkins had a string of three straight games in double figures snapped against Nicholls. He posted a career-high 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting against Sam Houston State, then added 12 at Texas State ast Wednesday. He capped it off with 13 points at Stephen F. Austin a week ago. In his last four games, Judkins is 21-of-38 (55.3 percent) from the field.
• Though he's only a freshman, Chicago native Hollis Hill has already proved himself to be one of the team's best clutch players. The guard hit three straight baskets at the end of the game and scored the Islanders' final seven points against SHSU. He also hit the clinching freethrows against Southeastern.
• The Islanders exorcised several demons last Saturday. It marked the first win for the Islanders over SFA in Perry Clark's tenure. It was also the Islanders' first road win of the season and the first time they won when trailing at halftime.
• Watt and fellow senior Justin Reynolds are just the second pair of Islanders teammates to top 1,000 career points at the same time, joining Corey Lamkin and Travis Bailey, who did so in 2005. Watt (1,134) is sixth in school history, while Reynolds (1,121) is seventh in Islanders lore.
• Saturdays have been kind to the Islanders throughout the 2010-11 campaign. The team is 5-2 in Saturday games, including a run of three straight wins. The Islanders' only losses are to conference leaders McNeese (Southland) and Valparaiso (Horizon).
• Chris Mast missed the Nicholls game with a foot injury and is day-to-day entering this weekend. He had started the previous six games for the Islanders.
SCOUTING THE DEMONS
Northwestern State brings an up-tempo style into the American Bank Center this weekend. The Demons are averaging 78.3 points and giving up 78.9 this year. They have won five of their last seven games to move within a half-game of the conference lead.
Will Pratt leads the way with 18.0 points, while Devon Baker has added 15.3. But the most intimidating Demon may be William Mosley, who is leading the nation with 4.7 blocks per game and adds 7.5 points and 8.3 boards.
A LOOK AT THE SOUTHLAND
The Southland is still wide open, especially in the West. UTSA, UT Arlington and Texas State are tied for the lead at 4-3, with Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State just behind at 3-4. The Islanders are just a half-game behind that at 3-5. In the East, McNeese still leads the way at 5-2, but Nicholls and Northwestern State are 5-3. Southeastern (4-3), Lamar (3-4) and UCA (1-7) round out the East.
Junior transfer Garland Judkins came in with lofty expectations, and after a slow start he has begun to fulfill those. Judkins was just getting into his stride in December when an ankle injury against Houston sidelined him for three games.
But after slowly building up strength, Judkins showed just what he was capable of the last several games. He has finished in double figures in three of the last four, leading the team in scoring twice, and has shot 21-for-38 from the field (.553) over that time.
Against Sam Houston State, the Humble, Texas, native went 7-for-12 from he field en route to a career-best 17 points. His best offensive attribute was his ability in transition, as he had two steals and six fast-break points. Ten of his 17 points came on layups. He had a tough game at Texas State with six turnovers, but still managed to score 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting with a career-high four rebounds. At Stephen F. Austin, he again controlled the up-tempo game, netting 13 points with a career-high five boards and three assist.
Judkins also had a stellar debut for the Islanders, scoring a team-high 16 points against Northeastern State. Judkins went 5-for-7 from the field, including a three-pointer, and hit all five of his free throws. He added nine points and three assists against Texas A&M.
Senior Demond Watt has been one of the top rebounders in the Southland this year. He had a string of back-to-back double-doubles and three straight with 10-plus rebounds snapped against SHSU, finishing with just seven boards.
He had his fifth 20-10 game last Wednesday, pouring in 20 points and grabbing 12 boards at Texas State. The senior went 6-of-12 from the floor and 8-of-12 from the stripe in the game.
The Chicago native scored 13 points and added 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the year against Southeastern. But more importantly, he came through when his team needed it most, delivering two three-point plays - one that gave the Islanders a two-point lead and another that turned a 46-46 tie into a three-point edge.
He was recognized for his efforts in a win against Houston by earning Southland Conference Player of the Week honors, the first weekly honor of his career. He scored 17 points and had nine rebounds in 41 minutes. He is currently third in the conference in minutes, trailing only guards Devin Gibson and Anatoly Bose in that category.
Watt was named to the iBN Las Vegas Invitational All-Tournament Team for his play in the City of Lights. He posted his third double-double of the season against Bethune-Cookman, and, in fact, had done so before halftime. The Chicago native finished with 23 points and 15 boards, each the second-highest mark of the year for the big man.
On Nov. 21 against Ohio, Watt poured in a career-high 26 points to go along with 12 rebounds and a career-high tying five assists. Against Texas A&M on Nov. 15, Watt scored 21 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. It marked the most rebounds by an Islanders player since Corey Lamkin had 18 at Air Force on Jan. 21, 2004.