TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (1-13, 0-2) AT UTSA (9-6, 2-0)
Wednesday, Jan. 11 • 7 p.m. CT
Convocation Center (4,080) • San Antonio, Texas
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team returns to the road looking to get in the win column in Southland Conference action when it heads to San Antonio for a matchup with UTSA on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Steven King will have the call of the game on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX and online at GoIslanders.com. This will be the final trip to the Convocation Center for the Islanders as a conference foe of the Roadrunners, as UTSA departs the Southland for the Western Athletic Conference following this year.
Since knocking off Utah State on Nov. 22, the Islanders have failed to get back in the win column, a string of 11 games without a victory. Five of those have been single-digit losses, including single-possession defeats at the hands of South Alabama and McNeese State. Most recently, the Islanders pushed the Cowboys to the brink on Saturday night, but could get no closer than one point down in a 71-69 loss in McNeese's conference opener. Four players scored in double figures for the Islanders, with Terence Jones and Chris Hawkins-Mast each posting 13 points.
• Johnathan Jordan had a career-high nine assists to just one turnover against McNeese State on Saturday. Jordan leads the conference with 4.1 assists per game.
• Nate Maxey matched a school record with seven blocks against the Cowboys last time out. Maxey has already set a new mark for blocks by a freshman with 30 on the year.
• The Islanders are shooting .434 from the field in conference play, including .506 (41-of-81) from inside the three-point line. The Islanders shot just .368 in non-conference action.
• Myron Dempsey has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in four of the last five games, averaging 9.4 boards over that span.
• A&M – Corpus Christi had just nine turnovers against McNeese, the second game this year (5 vs. Texas Tech) that the Islanders have turned the ball over fewer than 10 times.
• Chris Hawkins-Mast has five straight games in which he has scored in double digits. He is averaging 14.0 points over the last eight games, including a career-high 22 at West Virginia.
• After a five-game stretch in which he went 16-for-25 from downtown, Terence Jones has gone just 1-for-22 from beyond the arc.
• The Islanders have used seven different starting lineups, with 10 different players represented.
SCOUTING THE ROADRUNNERS
UTSA enters Wednesday's contest with a 9-6 overall record and a 2-0 mark in conference play. The Roadrunners have won three in a row, all in the new year, to surge to the top of the conference standings. Most recently, they drilled Nicholls 91-50 at home and edged Sam Houston State 62-60 in Huntsville. UTSA is 3-2 at home, with losses to Pepperdine and UC Riverside, but wins over Cameron, Bowling Green and Nicholls.
Kannon Burrage has paced the Roadrunners with his 14.7 points per game off the bench, but three other UTSA players average in double figures. Veterans Melvin Johnson III (13.4) and Jeromie Hill (12.0) are joined by newbie Michael Hale III (10.3) in scoring over 10 points per contest.
LAST TIME OUT
Four players scored in double figures for the Islanders, but McNeese State (5-8, 1-0 Southland) was able to stave off the home squad in a 71-69 defeat on Saturday night at the American Bank Center. Chris Hawkins-Mast and Terence Jones led the Islanders (1-13, 0-2) with 13 points apiece. Nate Maxey scored a career-high 11 and matched the school record with seven blocks, while Johnathan Jordan had a career-best nine assists to go along with 11 points.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Islanders have played UTSA more than any other team with the exception of UT-Pan American, and A&M - Corpus Christi has posted a 9-6 mark since the athletics program restarted in 1998. The Islanders are 3-4 on the road against the Roadrunners, including a 71-62 defeat on Feb. 23, 2011, in the most recent meeting between the teams.
Since joining the Southland, the Islanders are 6-5 against UTSA, including both contests last season. In regular-season matchups, the teams have each won five times. In each of the last five contests, the margin of victory has been in single digits, including an overtime victory for Texas A&M - Corpus Christi on Jan. 23, 2010.
Freshman Nate Maxey has been identified as the player with possibly the highest ceiling on the Islanders team, and he showed why immediately at Oklahoma State. In his regular-season debut, the San Diego native had four blocks and eight rebounds. He followed that up with another four blocks against Denver.
But his last time out was his finest effort of his brief career. Against McNeese State, Maxey went 5-for-7 from the field for a career-high 11 points to go along with seven blocked shots, matching the school record, set by Demond Watt against Central Arkansas in 2010. He now has 30 blocks on the season, a record for freshmen at the Island University, and is just 10 swats from entering the all-time top five. He currently is second in the Southland behind William Mosley of Northwestern State.
Maxey has also been strong from the field, shooting a stellar .686 (24-for-35) on the season. He has been limited by foul trouble this year, averaging just 16.6 minutes per game. The athletic 6-foot-11 big man has a massive 7-foot-9 wingspan.
The Islanders point guard 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.
Against McNeese State, he dished out a career-high nine assists to just one turnover, surging to the conference lead with 4.1 assists per game. He now has 58 dimes on the season, and is the only freshman in the Southland's top 10 in assists per game. He also is in the conference's top 10 in both steals (6th, 1.6) and minutes (6th, 31.6).
He has also picked up his scoring. His last time out, he scored 11 points to go along with his nine assists, and prior to that, he had a career-high 13 points, including seven from the free-throw line, against McNeese State. He is also a defensive stalwart, as his 1.6 steals per game are tied for sixth in the league.
He has enjoyed his trips to his hometown. In the Houston game, he filled the stat sheet, scoring eight points and leading the team with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. At Rice, he had seven points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Jordan, who has a 46-inch running vertical, won the Islanders slam-dunk contest in the preseason with a stellar two-handed jam.
The Islanders have seen a solid improvement in their offense as of late. The Islanders are shooting .434 from the field in conference play, including .506 (41-of-81) from inside the three-point line.
That includes a 26-for-56 outing against McNeese in which the home squad dominated in the paint, 42-24. The Islanders shot just .368 in non-conference action.