CENTRAL ARKANSAS (8-20, 3-12 SLC) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (5-23, 3-12)
Saturday, March 3 • 7 p.m. CT
American Bank Center (8,100) • Corpus Christi, Texas
RADIO: NewsRadio 1360 AM KKTX (Steven King)
LIVE STATS/VIDEO: GoIslanders.com
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team returns home for the final game of the 2011-12 season on Saturday night, when it hosts Central Arkansas for a 7 p.m. tipoff. The contest will be Senior Night, as the Islanders honor Chris Hawkins-Mast prior to his final game for A&M - Corpus Christi. It will also be Community and Military Appreciation Night, with ticket specials for military members and Coastal Bend residents. Steven King will call the game on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX starting with the Navy/Army Community Credit Union Pregame Show at 6:45.
Neither the Islanders nor the Bears will be heading to next week's Southland Conference Tournament, as the two squads are both 3-12 in league play this season. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is coming off a hard-fought defeat at the hands of conference leader UT Arlington on Wednesday, while UCA most recently fell against UTSA. This marks the second straight season that the two teams have squared off to end the year, with the Islanders knocking off the Bears in Conway a season ago, posting a 76-69 victory.
• Freshman Johnathan Jordan notched five assists on Wednesday night, moving past Brian Evans (2002-03) for the Islanders' single-season assist record (134). The Houston native leads the Southland with 4.6 dimes per game on the year.
• Freshman Jake Kocher earned his second start of the season on Wednesday and he did not disappoint. The Austin native had a career-high 15 points and used his hustle to post three steals and four defensive rebounds in the contest.
• Chris Hawkins-Mast has averaged 13.2 points per game over his last 11 contests. With 18 on Wednesday at UTA, he has finished in double figures in five of the last six and seven of nine.
• A&M – Corpus Christi placed five players in double figures for the first time this season when the starting five all had 10 points or more last week against UTSA. The last time the Islanders did that was against UTA on March 2, 2011.
• The Islanders also saw two freshmen post double-doubles in the UTSA game, as Nate Maxey (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Johnathan Jordan (12 points, 10 assists) each posted their first career double-doubles in the contest. The last time two Islanders had double-doubles in the same game was last year against Bethune-Cookman (Demond Watt and Justin Reynolds).
SCOUTING THE BEARS
Central Arkansas brings an 8-20 record and a 3-12 conference mark into Saturday's season finale. The Bears had a five-game winning streak from Nov. 22 through Dec. 7, but outside of that span have posted just three wins, all in league play. UCA has dropped 11 of its last 12 contests.
The Bears are led by LaQuentin Miles, who is fourth in the conference with his 14.8 points per game and has added 4.9 rebounds to go with a team-leading 54 steals. Jarvis Garner has averaged in double figures as well with 10.4 points, and his 6.1 boards lead the team.
LAST TIME OUT
Jake Kocher had a career-high 15 points and Chris Hawkins-Mast posted 18, but UT Arlington pulled away in the final four minutes for a 78-64 victory over the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team on Wednesday at the College Park Center. The Mavericks remained undefeated in conference play at 15-0 and improved to 23-6 overall with the win.
Kocher had an impressive game on both ends of the floor, using his hustle to create three steals and four defensive boards to go with his career-high in points. Johnathan Jordan posted five assists in the game to give him 134 on the season, a new Islanders record.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Islanders have never lost to Central Arkansas, posting a 5-0 record against the Bears in program history. A&M - Corpus Christi is 2-0 in the American Bank Center against UCA and 3-0 in Conway. Three of the five games have been decided by seven points or fewer.
In last year's game, the Islanders took a 76-69 victory over the Bears in Conway. Demond Watt led the way with 20 points, but the Islanders got big contributions off the bench from Terence Jones (12 points) and Chris Hawkins-Mast (10).
THE NEW NUMBER ONE
Freshman Johnathan Jordan has shown tremendous poise for a player in his first year of college basketball, leading the Islanders offense from the point. And cementing his place in history, the 5-foot-10 Jordan has now set a new Islanders record for assists in a season, with 134.
The Houston native currently sits atop the Southland with 4.6 assists per game after tallying five assists at UTA on Wednesday night. He had a career-best 10 assists against UTSA last Wednesday, posting his first career double-double in the contest, delivering 12 points.
Among frosh, he entered the week 10th nationally with that assist average, just behind Michigan's Trey Burke and Kentucky's Marquis Teague. He was 89th overall in the nation in assists per game.
The diminutive Jordan, whose lack of height is offset partially by a 46-inch running vertical, took the single-season record from Brian Evans, who had 132 in the 2002-03 season.
THE SILENT-C ASSASSIN
Freshman Jake Kocher (pronounced KO-er) came to the Islanders with a reputation for being an outstanding outside shooter. He has shown promise in this area, as his 18 triples are third on the team this season.
But the quality that has become his identity is his unrelenting hustle. Though not the fleetest afoot, he makes up for it by diving for loose balls and outworking his opposition.
With Myron Dempsey sidelined due to injury at UTA, Kocher was called upon to make his second career start and his first since the opening week of the season. The Austin native responded in a big way, delivering an early three en route to a career-high 15 points to go with three steals and four defensive rebounds. He also had the team's only two fast-break points.
The graduate of St. Michael's is the leading high school scorer in Austin history with over 2,500 points.
The Islanders placed five players in double figures against UTSA on Feb. 22, the first time the team has done that since March 2, 2011. Terence Jones (26) led the way, but all five starters had 10-plus points in a losing effort. Each of the five converted at least four field goals as well, with the Islanders posting 70 of their 82 points from their starters. The Islanders have topped 70 points as a team just two other times.