TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (1-2) AT #25 TEXAS A&M (3-1)
Saturday, Nov. 26 • 3 p.m. CT
Reed Arena (12,989) • College Station, Texas
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team hits the road for a Saturday afternoon contest against its flagship university, Texas A&M, in College Station. The Islanders are 1-1 all-time against the Aggies, winning the contest in Reed Arena in 2003 but falling in last year's game at the American Bank Center.
The Islanders got the first win of the Willis Wilson era on Tuesday night, stunning Utah State at the American Bank Center with a 58-55 overtime win. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi improved to 1-2 on the season with the victory after winning the back-and-forth contest. The game featured 12 ties and 15 lead changes.
Texas A&M sits at 3-1 after splitting two games at Madison Square Garden as part of the 2K Sports College Classic. The Aggies are 2-0 at home this season, with wins over Liberty (81-59) and Southern (83-58) in College Station. Billy Kennedy is in his first season at the helm of the Aggies program after an impressive five-year run heading a Murray State team that went 54-14 over the last two years.
LAST TIME OUT
Myron Dempsey's layup with 7.1 seconds remaining sent the game to overtime, and a clutch Hameed Ali three-pointer in the extra session gave the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi basketball team (1-2) a lead it would not relinquish in a 58-55 win over Utah State (2-2) on Tuesday night at the American Bank Center. Dempsey posted a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds in the victory.
The win was the first in Willis Wilson's tenure as head coach of the Islanders program. Terence Jones added 14 points for the Islanders, including a 5-for-6 effort from the line, in the victory. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi had a season-low 12 turnovers on the game, just five after halftime. The Islanders improved to 13-5 all-time in overtime contests with the victory.
SCOUTING THE AGGIES
Texas A&M is currently ranked 24th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and 25th in the AP poll after a 3-1 start. At the 2K Sports Classic in New York last weekend, the Aggies went 1-1 with a loss to Mississippi State and a win over St. John's. Ray Turner (14.5), Elston Turner (12.0) and David Loubeau (10.5) are all averaging in double figures for A&M. The Aggies are also getting 7.5 rebounds out of Kourtney Roberson each contest.
AGAINST THE AGGIES
This will be the third all-time meeting between the Islanders and Aggies. Last season, the two teams played at the American Bank Center, with the flagship campus of the A&M system taking an 86-65 victory. The Aggies got 16 points from Khris Middleton and 14 from Roberson in the win, as they shot 51.7 percent from the field.
But in 2003, the Islanders posted one of the biggest wins in school history, winning in College Station, 82-80. Brian Evans and Travis Bailey provided the 1-2 punch for the visitors in that contest, as Evans netted 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting, and Bailey added 22 points on 7-for-14 shooting, including a 4-for-7 effort from beyond the three-point arc. The Islanders survived a late surge by the home Aggies, as Texas A&M trimmed a 13-point deficit to just two points before time ran out in the comeback.
RANK AND FILE
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has never defeated a ranked opponent, holding an 0-9 record against the AP Top 25. Five of those nine matchups came against teams in the top 10, including three top-five opponents, while none were against teams ranked in the 20s. Last year, the Islanders were 0-2 against ranked foes, falling to No. 16 Memphis, 68-63, and to No. 6 Kansas, 82-41.
TWO THE HARD WAY
Junior college transfer Myron Dempsey has really emerged for the Islanders over the past two games, both on the offensive end and on the glass. Against Utah State, he delivered his finest performance, tallying a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds in leading the Islanders to the upset victory.
But looking closer at the stats, it is amazing to see just how Dempsey has collected his points this year. The St. Petersburg, Fla., native has averaged 12.3 points over the first three games, a total of 37 points. Of those, 34 have come from in the paint, including all 17 of his field goals. The junior's remaining three points have all come from the free-throw line.
The long, athletic rebounder is currently second in the Southland Conference with his 9.0 rebounds per game. Eleven of his 27 boards have come in the offensive end, and the junior has made the most of it, turning his efforts into a team-leading 13 second-chance points.
The Islanders point guard this season may be one of the smallest players in the Southland Conference, but what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in athletic ability. Houston native Johnathan Jordan stands just 5-foot-10, but his extreme athleticism and basketball IQ are the aspects of his makeup that are far more important to the Islanders.
At the end of the Denver game, he was a one-man wrecking crew. The freshman had two steals and eight points during a 10-0 run that drew the Islanders within three points with 26 seconds to play.
He has also emerged as a key distributor, leading the Islanders with his nine assists. Against Utah State, he set up Myron Dempsey's tying layup to send the game to OT, then found Hameed Ali on the right wing for the winning three-ball.
After being a role player in his first season for the Islanders, senior Chris Hawkins-Mast has emerged as the team's go-to guy on the offensive end. Hawkins-Mast led the Islanders with 23 points in the exhibition against UIW, then led all scorers in the game at Oklahoma State, netting 14. He followed that with seven boards and 10 points against Denver, including two on a thunderous dunk early in the game.
Hawkins-Mast has been arguably the hardest worker on the team, spending a tremendous amount of time on his jump shot outside of practice. The result has been a significant improvement in that area while still possessing his ability to get to the rim.
The native of Washington, D.C., attended a pair of junior colleges before landing at the Island University prior to the 2010-11 season. He went by the name "Chris Mast" a year ago, but chose to use his full legal name to honor his mother, whose maiden name is Hawkins.
Freshman Nate Maxey has been identified as the player with possibly the highest ceiling on the Islanders team, and he showed why at Oklahoma State. In his regular-season debut, the San Diego native had four blocks and seven rebounds in the first half.
He followed that up with another four blocks against Denver. All four efforts that he swatted away were on attempted layups. He is already 43 percent of the way to setting a new freshman record for blocks in a season – Carl Nelson swatted 21 attempts in 2005-06 – and is second in the conference at 3.0 blocks per game.
The athletic 6-foot-11 big man has a massive 7-foot-9 wingspan. In addition to his defense, he has scored four points in each of the first three games and is 6-for-8 from the field so far this season.