TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (1-4) AT HOUSTON (3-3)
Saturday, Dec. 3 • 7 p.m. CT
Hofheinz Pavilion (8,500) • Houston, Texas
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team (1-4) hits the road for a Saturday evening contest at the University of Houston (3-3). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Hofheinz Pavilion. This is the final contest for the Islanders before fall semester finals, and the team embarks on an 11-day break before playing host to South Alabama on Thursday, Dec. 15.
The Islanders have lost their last two games, both to Big 12 foes, with Texas A&M toppling the team 56-43 and Texas Tech knocking them off 61-54 on Thursday. Terence Jones had a career-high 26 points in the defeat to the Red Raiders, while Chris Hawkins-Mast had 16. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi committed just five turnovers – a school record – in the loss.
Houston has played five of its six games this season at home, posting a 2-3 record at Hofheinz Pavilion. The Cougars have lost their last three games, falling by a combined total of four points over those three contests.
LAST TIME OUT
Terence Jones scored a career-high 26 points and Chris Hawkins-Mast matched his career mark with 16, but Texas Tech was able to hold on for a 61-54 victory over the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi basketball team on Thursday night. The Islanders played in front of a season-high 2,719 fans.
Jaye Crockett led the Red Raiders (4-3) with 12 points and nine boards, while four other Tech players finished with eight points or more. Hawkins-Mast topped the Islanders with nine rebounds, while Johnathan Jordan had a career-best six assists. A&M – Corpus Christi (1-4) had a season-low five turnovers in the loss.
SCOUTING THE COUGARS
Houston enters this weekend at 3-3 after three consecutive heartbreaking losses. The Cougars fell to Oakland, 76-74, to TCU, 81-80, and LSU, 59-58. In the two most recent outings, Houston held the lead until the final second, with TCU hitting the winning layup with one tick on the clock and LSU knocking down two free throws just before the buzzer.
UH has five players in double figures, led by Alandise Harris' 18.3 per contest. Kirk Van Slyke has added 13.2, while TaShawn Thomas has scored 10.0 points and grabbed 7.5 rebounds per contest.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Last season's matchup resulted in an 81-78 overtime victory for the Islanders, the first triumph for Texas A&M - Corpus Christi in the all-time series. Terence Jones had 16 points and six rebounds in the game, while Chris Hawkins-Mast scored seven points and had two steals.
The Islanders are 1-4 against the Cougars in the history of the two programs, including an 0-3 mark in Houston.
GIMME A BREAK
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi now enters a period of 11 days off while the team focuses on finals, which begin on Thursday, Dec. 8. This will be the longest break for the Islanders this season. The only other respite that nearly rivals this break was the seven days off between the Denver and Utah State games.
The Islanders will need to store up their rest, though, as after the break they play five games in an eight-day span. After the game against the Jaguars, the Islanders play West Virginia, Missouri State and two games in Las Vegas as part of the Las Vegas Classic.
AS THE ISLANDERS DON'T TURN
The Islanders have steadily improved their ball handling over the last few games, but still were averaging 15.3 turnovers per game heading into Thursday night's contest. But against Texas Tech, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi took its ballhandling to a new level, setting a school record by committing just five turnovers.
Chris Hawkins-Mast and Johnathan Jordan had two turnovers each, and the fifth turnover was on a shot-clock violation. The previous low was seven turnovers, against Sam Houston State last season and in 2006 against IPFW.
FINDING THE RANGE
Junior Terence Jones is the team's leading returning scorer from last season, but had struggled to heat up in the offensive end over the first four games of the season. That all changed on Thursday against Texas Tech, as the Baltimore native went off for a career-high 26 points on 9-of-19 shooting.
It was the most points for an Islander since Justin Reynolds scored 26 against UT-Arlington on March 2, 2011. Jones' effort buoyed the Islanders outside shooting, as he went 4-for-9 from long range in the contest. Jones scored more threes in the game than the Islanders had as a team in any prior contest this season.
After struggling in the opener at Oklahoma State, Jones came out sizzling in the home opener, draining his first three shots – two from beyond the arc – and scoring the Islanders' first eight points. He finished the game with 11.
Jones improved again against Utah State, scoring 14 points and hitting three crucial free throws in overtime to help seal the victory over the Aggies. He was 3-for-23 from long distance and shooting just 26.3 percent prior to Thursday's scoring barrage.
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 been impressive leading the Islanders offense with his 19 assists and is among the SLC leaders with 3.8 per game. He had a career-best six dimes against Texas Tech while committing two turnovers.
After being a role player in his first season for the Islanders, senior Chris Hawkins-Mast has emerged as one of the team's go-to guys 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 had gone cold for a couple games before re-emerging with 16 points and nine boards against Texas Tech.
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.