Men's Basketball Welcomes Texas State in Search of Second Straight
TEXAS STATE (8-10, 1-4 SOUTHLAND) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (3-15, 2-4)
Wednesday, Jan. 25 • 7 p.m. CT
American Bank Center (8,100) • Corpus Christi, Texas
RADIO: NewsRadio 1360 AM KKTX (Steven King)
LIVE VIDEO/STATS: GoIslanders.com
THE OPENING TIP
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is back at the American Bank Center on Wednesday night for a 7 p.m. tipoff against Texas State. The Islanders, coming off a 50-49 win over Sam Houston State, currently sit ninth in the Southland with a 2-4 record in conference play. Wednesday night's game will be carried live on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX with Steven King on the call, and live video will be available through GoIslanders.com.
The Islanders posted their second 50-49 road win of the season on Saturday, knocking off the Bearkats in Huntsville on Hameed Ali's winning jumper with 0.3 seconds remaining. Johnathan Jordan had a career-high 14 points, including an 8-of-11 performance at the free throw line, in the win.
Texas State is sitting at 1-4 in league play, having played some of the top competition from the conference. The Bobcats most recently dropped a home contest against UTSA, 80-75 on Saturday, after falling on the road to Sam Houston State, 71-68, on Wednesday. The Bobcats are 8-10 overall this season.
• Hameed Ali buried his second game-winning shot of the year, when his jumper swished with 0.3 seconds remaining on Saturday. He also had the winning three against Utah State, and narrowly missed a buzzer-beating winner against South Alabama.
• The Islanders' win at Sam Houston State was their first win in Huntsville since the regular-season finale of the 2006-07 season. They improved to 2-5 all-time at SHSU.
• In the win over SHSU, the Islanders went 0-for-11 from beyond the arc, their first game without hitting a three pointer since a 47-42 loss at Savannah State (0-for-9) on Dec. 18, 2008.
• A&M – Corpus Christi has won all three of its games this season in close fashion. The Islanders' two Southland victories are both by a 50-49 score, with the other win a 58-55 overtime win over Utah State.
• Comebacks were the order of the week, as the Islanders came from 25 down to tie UT Arlington on Wednesday (before falling 77-73) and came from down 16 to beat SHSU on Saturday.
• Johnathan Jordan is on pace to break the school record for assists (132). He leads the league with 4.4 assists per game overall.
• The Islanders have used seven different starting lineups, with 10 different players represented.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS
Texas State brings an 8-10 overall record and a 1-4 league mark into Wednesday's contest. The Bobcats have knocked off East division frontrunner McNeese State, but have fallen in road contests at Northwestern State and Sam Houston State and at home against UTSA and Stephen F. Austin.
Three players average in double figures for Texas State, led by Brooks Ybarra's 12.2 points per game. Matt Staff has scored 11.1 in addition to leading the team with 7.7 rebounds per game and 28 total blocks as well, while Eddie Rios is averaging 10.6 points. Vonn Jones' 66 assists lead the squad. The Bobcats are tops in the league with an average of 79.7 points, but have allowed 76.3, the 10th best mark in the league.
LAST TIME OUT
Hameed Ali's jumper from the left corner with 0.3 seconds remaining capped a huge comeback for the Islanders, as they knocked off Sam Houston State, 50-49, at Johnson Coliseum on Saturday. The Islanders overcame a 16-point second-half deficit to emerge victorious.
It marked the second game in a row that the Islanders had a massive comeback, as A&M – Corpus Christi came from 25 down to tie UT Arlington on Wednesday, but the Islanders wound up on the wrong end of a 77-73 score.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Historically, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has had solid success against Texas State, with a 7-5 edge in the overall mark during the Islanders era. Interestingly enough, A&M - Corpus Christi has fared better on the road (4-2) against the Bobcats than it has at home (3-3).
Last year, Texas State took both contests, winning a 66-61 game at the American Bank Center and a 73-62 affair in San Marcos. Both times, the difference proved getting to the free-throw line, as the Bobcats went a combined 50-of-60 (.833) at the stripe in the two wins, outscoring the Islanders by an average of 14 points per game at the line.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Freshman Hameed Ali was the last scholarship player to sign with the Islanders and is the youngest player on the team. But perhaps the biggest challenge is living up to his name – Hameed means "praiseworthy" and Ali means "exalted one."
He went a long way toward fulfilling his lofty name expectations on Saturday, when he buried a jumper from the left corner with 0.3 seconds remaining to lift the Islanders to a 50-49 win over Sam Houston State.
It was his second game-winning shot of the season, as he also buried a three in overtime against Utah State on Nov. 22. Ali had another chance to send the Islanders home victorious against South Alabama on Dec. 15, but his three at the buzzer caromed off the right side of the rim.
LONG TIME COMING
The Islanders' win at Sam Houston State was their first win in Huntsville since the regular-season finale of the 2006-07 season. They improved to 2-5 all-time at SHSU. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi improved to 5-9 all-time against the Bearkats with the victory.
What was perhaps more surprising about the Islanders' victory was that they did it without the help of a strong shooting night. In fact, the Islanders went 0-for-11 from beyond the arc.
It marked the first time since Dec. 18, 2008, (a 47-42 loss at Savannah State) that Texas A&M - Corpus Christi went without a three pointer in a game, breaking a string of 102 straight contests with a three-ball. It also marked the first time since Dec. 2, 2004, (a 65-48 win over Prairie View) that the team went without a three and won the game.
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.
In the game at Sam Houston State, the point guard upped his scoring prowess, as he netted a career-best 14 points, using an 8-for-11 outing at the free-throw line to his advantage. He also added five assists to just one turnover, and has a 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference action.
Against McNeese State, he dished out a career-high nine assists to just one turnover, and he matched that assist total against UTA. He now sits atop the league with his 4.4 assists per game and is the only freshman in the Southland's top 10 in apg.
He also is on pace for 131.7 assists this year, which puts him within range of Brian Evans' single-season record of 132. He currently needs 24 more to move into the team's single-season top 10.
Jordan, who has a 46-inch running vertical, won the Islanders slam-dunk contest in the preseason with a stellar two-handed jam.
QUITE A COMEBACK
The Islanders have shown a penchant for early slumps and late rallies the last couple games. In the game against SHSU, A&M - Corpus Christi rallied from a 16-point deficit to knock off the Bearkats. They used a 20-4 run, holding SHSU to 1-for-10 shooting with four turnovers. It was the largest deficit the Islanders have overcome since an 86-81, overtime win over Oral Roberts on Nov. 14, 2007.
When the Islanders fell behind 24-3 and later 33-8 on Wednesday against UT Arlington, things looked bleak. But the Islanders used a 39-14 run over a span of 15:43 to pull even at 47-47. During that span, they shot 15-of-23 (.652), and allowed UTA to go just 4-of-18 with 10 turnovers.
The Islanders have had quite a flair for the dramatic this year. In their three wins this season, A&M - Corpus Christi has won by a total of five points, and in every scenario the Islanders got the winning basket in the final 1:07 of game action. Hameed Ali has two winning shots (Utah State and SHSU) and Terence Jones has the other (UTSA).