Islanders Take on Central Michigan in Sears Bracketbusters
TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (4-21) AT CENTRAL MICHIGAN (8-17)
Saturday, Feb. 18 • 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT
McGuirk Arena (5,300) • Mount Pleasant, Mich.
THE OPENING TIP
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi steps out of conference play for the Sears Bracketbusters this weekend, as it will head to Mount Pleasant, Mich., for a matchup with Central Michigan. This will be the first matchup in school history between the two teams. Game time is set for 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT at McGuirk Arena. Steven King will have the call on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX and GoIslanders.com, starting at 5:45 CT with the Navy/Army Community Credit Union Pregame Show.
The Islanders hae dropped six straight contests and now sit at 4-21 on the season. A&M - Corpus Christi is playing its fifth game out of the last six away from the Coastal Bend and will suit up in its fourth state in a span of 17 days. The Islanders are currently in 10th place in the Southland Conference standings with four games left.
Central Michigan recently snapped a string of nine losses in a row, with a victory over Eastern Michigan on Tuesday. CMU holds an 8-17 overall record and a 3-9 mark in the Mid-American Conference. There are no common opponents for the Islanders and Chippewas this season.
• Two Islanders freshmen are mounting an assault on the team's record book this season. Johnathan Jordan (114 assists) is currently ninth on the single-season list and just 18 dimes away from the single-season record. Nate Maxey (45 blocks) is currently fourth on the Islanders' single-season list and is just eight shy of the team record.
• Chris Hawkins-Mast delivered his third double-double in the last seven games on Wednesday. He had 13 points and 12 boards in San Marcos, and is averaging 13.6 and 8.4 in the last seven.
• The Islanders have used at least 10 players in every conference game and in 23 of 25 games this year. A&M – Corpus Christi has also used eight different starting lineups, with 11 different players earning starts. Myron Dempsey is the only player to have started every game for the Islanders on the season.
• A&M – Corpus Christi has posted at least three steals in each of the last nine games, totaling 57 over that span. Myron Dempsey leads the team with 11 swipes in that period.
• The Islanders converted all four of their traditional three-point play opportunities against Sam Houston State and has finished 6-of-7 opportunities in the last two games. The team came into the SHSU game having finished off just 15-of-34 on the year.
SCOUTING THE CHIPPEWAS
Central Michigan snapped a nine-game losing streak on Tuesday night, knocking off Eastern Michigan in Mount Pleasant, 55-52. The Chippewas have a 4-5 record in McGuirk Arena this season, including a 2-1 mark against non-conference foes. CMU bested Ferris State and Illinois-Chicago in the building, but fell in overtime to Charlotte.
CMU has had similar offensive struggles to the Islanders, as the Chips averaged 61.5 points and are shooting .392 from the field. Trey Zeigler, the son of head coach Ernie Zeigler, paces the team with his 15.2 points and 6.8 rebounds. Nobody outside of the regular starters is averaging better than 3.1 points.
LAST TIME OUT
Texas State used a blazing start from the floor to build an early 25-3 lead and never looked back in posting a 79-61 victory over the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team on Wednesday night at Strahan Coliseum. Chris Hawkins-Mast had a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards in a losing effort for the Islanders.
Matt Staff led the way for the Bobcats with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Myron Dempsey added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Islanders, while Jason Smith had 10 points in a losing effort.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
This will be the first meeting between the Islanders and Chippewas in the history of the two teams. For the Islanders, it marks their first trip to the Wolverine State since the 2006-07 season, when A&M - Corpus Christi defeated Detroit, 82-73, to improve to 3-0 en route to the program's lone NCAA berth.
Against members of the Mid-American Conference, the Islanders are 2-5, the majority of those being contests against Kent State (1-3). The Islanders have also played single games with Eastern Michigan (1-0), Northern Illinois (0-1) and Ohio (0-1).
TWO THE HARD WAY
Junior college transfer Myron Dempsey has been an impact player on both ends for the Islanders this season. The long, athletic rebounder is currently third in the Southland Conference with his 7.7 rebounds per game.
On Feb. 6 at Savannah State, he snapped a cold string with his third double-double of the season, scoring 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and pulling down 11 rebounds. His finest outing of the season came in the upset win over Utah State, when he delivered a clutch double-double, scoring 16 points and snaring a career-high 15 caroms.
He is first on the team in steals (31) and is second in blocks (22) as well. He has also improved from the field over the last several games, going 41-for-80 (.513) the last 10 contests. He had 12 points and nine boards on Wednesday night.
Looking closer at the stats, it is amazing to see how Dempsey has collected his points. The St. Petersburg, Fla., native has scored a total of 221 points. Of those, 166 (75 percent) have come from in the paint, including 83 of his 94 field goals. He hit two shots from outside the paint in each game against Texas State.
Two freshmen are attempting to etch their names in the Islanders record book this season. Freshmen Johnathan Jordan (Houston) and Nate Maxey (San Diego) are both on pace to set single-season marks, not just for freshmen, but for all players in Islanders lore.
Jordan has been brilliant at the point this season, as he currently is second in the Southland with 4.6 assists per game and is the only freshman in the league that is ranked in the top 10. Among frosh, he entered the week ninth nationally with that assist-per-game average, just behind Michigan's Trey Burke and Kentucky's Marquis Teague.
He is also making his way up the Islanders' single-season list, as his 114 assists place him ninth in school history. He is on pace for 137 assists, which would topple the record of 132, set by Brian Evans in the 2002-03 season.
The 5-foot-10 point guard is one of the most athletic players in the conference, as he possesses a 46-inch running vertical leap and won the Islanders' slam-dunk contest at Islanders Invasion this year.
Jordan isn't the only Islander freshman making an assault on the record book. Maxey is well on his way to toppling the school record in blocked shots, as he is currently fourth on the single-season list and is just eight away from matching Chris Daniels' single-season record of 53. The big man is currently on pace for 54 swats this year.
Maxey began the week 48th in the nation with his 2.0 blocks per game, and is sixth among freshmen nationally. Among those ahead of Maxey are National Player of the Year candidate Anthony Davis of Kentucky and Connecticut's Andre Drummond.
While his 6-foot-11 frame is impressive enough, Maxey's ridiculous arm length is what sets him apart. The freshman has a 7-foot-9 wingspan.