TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (1-8) AT LAS VEGAS CLASSIC
Thursday, Dec. 22/Friday, Dec. 23 • 12 p.m. PT/TBA
Orleans Arena (7,471) • Las Vegas, Nev.
RADIO: NewsRadio 1360 AM KKTX (Steven King)
LIVE AUDIO: GoIslanders.com
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team finishes off the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic with a pair of games in the City of Lights this week. On Thursday, Dec. 22, the Islanders open against Bethune-Cookman at noon PT/2 p.m. CT, and then will play either Kennesaw State or Tennessee Tech on Friday, Dec. 23, depending on the outcomes of Thursday's contest. Other teams participating in the Classic are West Virginia, Missouri State, St. Mary's and Baylor.
The Islanders are 1-8 on the season, having lost five straight contests. That said, the schedule has been the toughest of any Southland Conference team and one of the strongest in the nation. Among its nine games, A&M - Corpus Christi has played five teams that advanced to the postseason a year ago in addition to Big 12 foe Texas Tech.
Bethune-Cookman is now 3-9 on the season, and is on an even longer road trip than the Islanders, facing UCF, Baylor, St. Mary's and Stanford before heading to Vegas.
• Terence Jones has caught fire over the last five games, shooting 57.6 percent from beyond the arc, 50 percent from the field and averaging 18.8 points per game.
• This is the fourth game in eight days for Texas A&M - Corpus Christi and is in a cluster of five games in nine days.
• The Islanders are 2-1 against Bethune-Cookman all time, with a 69-65 win last year in Las Vegas.
• Johnathan Jordan has rapidly climbed the rankings in the Southland in assists, as he leads the league with 4.2 per game.
• Chris Hawkins-Mast scored a career-high 22 points at West Virginia and went 8-for-10 from the free-throw line.
LAST TIME OUT
Terence Jones continued his scoring binge with 19 points, but Missouri State jumped out to a big early lead and never looked back in knocking off the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team 66-53 on Monday. Missouri State (7-3) placed four players in double figures. The Islanders (1-8) hit a season-high 10 three-pointers in the loss, with Jones' five leading the way. Ted Wang had a strong contest, posting a career-high four points, five rebounds and 23 minutes.
SCOUTING THE FIELD
Bethune-Cookman comes into Las Vegas having lost four straight road contests with a 3-9 overall record. The Wildcats have fallen to UCF, Baylor, St. Mary's and Stanford in the midst of a road swing that started on Dec. 10. Two of the three wins for B-CU came against non-Division I opponents and the third was a conference victory over Florida A&M.
Kennesaw State has a 2-8 record, with wins over Chattanooga and Reinhardt to its credit. The Owls have lost six straight since toppling Reinhardt, and they have played just two home games all year. Tennessee Tech is 6-5 on the year with a loss to West Virginia snapping a three-game winning streak. All but one of its wins has been by double digits.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Islanders are 2-1 all-time against Bethune-Cookman, splitting a home-and-home with the Wildcats in the first two years of the Islanders program. The Islanders won 87-72 in Corpus Christi on Feb. 3, 2000, but fell 93-92 in overtime in Daytona Beach. Last year, the teams squared off in the same round of the Las Vegas Invitational, and the Islanders took a 69-65 win behind 23 points and 15 boards from Demond Watt.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has never faced Kennesaw State or Tennessee Tech in program history.
VEGAS, BABY … VEGAS
This will be the second straight season that the Islanders take part in a Las Vegas-based exempt tournament, as they took part in the Las Vegas Invitational last season. A year ago, the Islanders fell at Ohio and Kansas before splitting affairs in Vegas with Bethune-Cookman and Valparaiso.
This year, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi takes part in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, which sees them travel to West Virginia, Missouri State and play two games in the City of Lights.
Over the trip, the Islanders will log over 5,000 air miles. Including Thursday's game against USA, the Islanders will play five games in a span of nine days.
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. But December has shone brightly on him, starting 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 Islanders player since Justin Reynolds scored 26 against UT-Arlington on March 2, 2011.
At Houston, he went 5-for-9 from the field and scored a pedestrian 12 points. In the South Alabama affair, Jones upped the ante from the outside, burying his first four threes en route to 17 more points. At West Virginia, he went 4-for-5 from beyond the arc and tallied his second 20-point game of the season. He then matched his career high at Missouri State with five triples and led all scorers with 19 points.
Over the last five contests, the Baltimore native has averaged 18.8 points and shot 57.6 percent from beyond the arc.and 50 percent from the field overall. He now has 102 career threes, the seventh player in school history to top 100.