Men’s Tournament Schedule
Wednesday, March 13
Game 1: No. 8 McNeese St. vs. No. 5 Nicholls St., 5 p.m. (SLCDN)
Game 2: No. 7 Central Arkansas vs. No. 6 Sam Houston St., 7:30 p.m. (SLCDN)
Thursday, March 14
Game 3: Winner Gm. 1 vs. No. 4 Southeastern La., 5 p.m. (SLCDN)
Game 4: Winner Gm. 2 vs. No. 3 Oral Roberts, 7:30 p.m. (SLCDN)
Friday, March 15
Game 5: Winner Gm. 3 vs. No. 1 Stephen F. Austin, 5 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 6: Winner Gm. 4 vs. No. 2 Northwestern St., 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
Saturday, March 16
Game 7: Championship Game, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
All times Central
Southland Tournament News & Notes
Tournament Matchups: With the new format for this year’s Southland Conference Basketball Tournament, regular-season champion Stephen F. Austin gets to wait until Friday to hit the court. The top two seeds receive byes into the semifinal round. The Lumberjacks play the first semifinal game Friday at 5 p.m., Central, against either No. 4 Southeastern Louisiana, No. 5 seed Nicholls State or No. 8 seed McNeese State. No. 2 seed Northwestern State will play Friday’s second-semifinal game against whoever advances on that side of the bracket. It could be No. 3 Oral Roberts, No. 6 Sam Houston State or No. 7 Central Arkansas. The regular-season championship was the third won by SFA and the first since it won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009. The Lumberjacks are looking for just the second tournament title in school history, having won their only title in 2009. The regular-season champion has won the tournament 22 times in the previous 32 tournaments, including eight times since 2000.
Early Round Tournament Matchups: The first opening-round matchup pits No. 5 seed Nicholls State vs. No. 8 seed McNeese State Wednesday at 5 p.m. in a rematch of the regular-season finale won 91-88 by McNeese State in double overtime last Saturday. The Cowboys and Colonels split the season series with Nicholls winning the first meeting 64-63 Jan. 7. Nicholls was 8-10 in Southland play and will take a 9-20 record into the rematch. McNeese State was 7-11 in league games and is 13-16 overall. J.P. Piper’s Colonels are making their fifth consecutive tournament appearance and 13th overall, while Dave Simmons’ Cowboys tie the league record with their 26th tournament appearance. McNeese has played for the tournament title each of the last two seasons. The winner will advance to play No. 4 seed Southeastern on Thursday at 5 p.m.
The other first-round game features No. 6 seed Sam Houston State and No. 7 seed Central Arkansas. The game will be played Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The Bearkats swept both games from the Bears during the regular season, winning 63-52 Jan. 17 and 80-75 Feb. 16. Central Arkansas is making its first Division I postseason appearance since joining the Southland prior to the 2006-07 season. The Bears, who are in just their third season of eligibility for the tournament, is 13-16 overall and finished 7-11 in league play, setting a school record for league wins. A win against the Bearkats by Corliss Williamson’s squad would tie the school record for most overall wins in a season since its transition. Sam Houston has dropped five of its last six games to slip below .500 overall and in league play. Jason Hooten’s squad is 15-16 overall and finished 8-10 against Southland competition. The Bearkats, who won the 2010 tournament title, are in the tournament for the 16th time, including each of the last 11 years. The winner between Sam Houston and UCA will play No. 3 seed Oral Roberts in the late game Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Waiting for Round Two: Oral Roberts is its first Southland Conference tournament after joining the Southland last summer from the Summit League where it won six regular-season titles. ORU will take an 18-13 overall record with them to Katy and finished 13-4 in league play to earn a first-round bye. Southeastern Louisiana is back in the tournament for the ninth time. The Lions, who last year snapped an eight-year stretch of reaching the tournament, drew the No. 4 seed this year after finishing 12-17 overall and 10-8 in conference play. Southeastern won the tournament in 2005, but have advanced past the opening round only once since then.
Top Seeds Open Tournament Play in Semifinal Round: This year, Stephen F. Austin finished conference play with a 16-2 record to go with a 26-3 ledger overall. That is the most wins by a conference team since the Lumberjacks set a school record with a 26-6 record in 2008. No Southland team has had fewer losses since former league member Louisiana Tech finished 29-3 in its run to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1984-85. This year’s SFA squad enters the tournament on a five-game win streak and is the first team in the 50-year history of the conference to reach 26 wins before the conference tournament. Danny Kaspar’s team is making its 17th appearance in the league tournament and won the 2009 title to make its first trip to the NCAA tournament.
Northwestern State, one of two Southland teams to beat SFA this year, earned the No. 2 seed in next week’s tournament. The Demons have made 15 previous appearances in the conference tournament and have played for the title six times, winning in 2001 and 2006. Northwestern went on to win games in the NCAA tournament each of those years, beating Winthrop in 2001 and following with a last-second upset victory over Iowa in the 2006 tournament. This year, Mike McConathy’s Demons are 21-8 overall and finished league play with a 15-3 record, just one game behind the Lumberjacks.
Television/Streaming Coverage: The first- and second-round games of the men’s tournament will be streamed live and for free on the Southland Conference Digital Network, which includes Southland.org and the league’s iPhone and Android Apps. The two semifinal games will be available exclusively on ESPN3 while the men’s championship game will be televised on ESPN2 and the WatchESPN app. Matt Thomas, who hosts the Houston Astros pre- and post-game radio shows, will handle play-by-play duties for the Southland Digital Network, while four-time Louisiana Sportscaster of the Year Lyn Rollins and former Baylor coach Jim Haller will call the action for ESPN3. On Saturday, Carter Blackburn and former Central Connecticut coach Mark Adams will have the call for the national broadcast on ESPN2.
Other Ways to Follow the Tournament: The official website for the 2013 Southland Conference Basketball Tournament is www.Southland.org/basketball. The official twitter feed, @MerrellMadness, will also have all the latest news about the tournament. Fans can also follow @SouthlandSports for the latest updates of not only the conference tournament, but all 17 Southland Conference sports. If facebook or Instagram are your preferred social networks, search SouthlandConference on those apps.
Tournament Champion Will Dance: The winner of the Southland Conference tournament is the league’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA tournament. The expanded 68-team bracket for the tournament will be announced Sunday at 5 p.m., CDT, on CBS Sports. This year’s Final Four will be held at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, April 6-8.
Tournament Tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2013 Southland Conference Basketball Tournament at the Merrell Center box office and on Ticketmaster.com. Reserved all-tournament passes are available for $75. Tickets are also available for each session of the tournament. A reserved ticket for each session is $18, while a general admission ticket is $13. Tickets to each championship game are $15 for a reserved ticket or $10 for general admission.
Back for Year No. 6 in Katy: The 2013 Southland Conference Basketball Tournament is back at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy, Texas for the sixth consecutive year. The 2013 tournament is the 14th in league history to be played at a neutral site and the seventh consecutive. The tournament was played in Shreveport, La., from 1995-2001 and was held in Houston in 2007 before moving to Katy in 2008.
On a Neutral Court: The Southland Conference has played its postseason tournament on a neutral court every year since 2007. In those six years, only Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State have participated every year. Stephen F. Austin leads all programs with seven wins and is 7-5 in the tournament since 2007, while the Bearkats are one of three programs at 5-4. McNeese State and former league member Texas-San Antonio also are 5-4. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi boasts the best win percentage in its three tournament appearances since 2007. At 5-2, the Islanders have a win percentage of .714. Lamar is second at 3-2 (.600) in three appearances, while SFA is third with a win percentage of .583.
• This is the 33rd Southland Conference tournament.
• The regular-season champion has won the tournament 22 times including two of the last four years. Stephen F. Austin won both titles in 2009 and Sam Houston State won both in 2010, but McNeese State, the 2010 regular-season champion, and Texas-Arlington, the 2011 regular-season winner could not pull the double.
• The regular-season champion has reached the final every year of the tournament except for four: 1994, 2000, 2008 and 2012.
• Former Southland university Louisiana-Monroe won the tournament a record six times. Lamar is second with four after last season’s win as the No. 3 seed.
• McNeese State leads all Southland teams with 22 tournament victories. The Cowboys made their second consecutive appearance in the tournament championship game last year and have played in the title game five times with wins in 1989 and 2002. Louisiana-Monroe is second with 21 tournament victories.
• McNeese has tied the league record with their 26th tournament appearance this year,
• Lamar and Northwestern State lead all current schools with six appearances in the championship game. Texas-San Antonio also made six appearances in the championship game, though Louisiana-Monroe is the all-time leader with 10 appearances in the final.
• There have been seven championship games feature two teams from Texas (1986, 1995, 2001, 2002 and 2005) and five finals with teams from Louisiana (1983, 1994, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010).
Regular-Season Champion Has Used Neutral Floor to Sweep Titles Seven Times: Of the 14 times the Southland tournament has been played on a neutral floor, the regular-season champion has won seven tournament titles. Overall, the regular-season champion has won the tournament 22 times.
Swept Season/Tourney Titles at Neutral Site
1995: Nicholls (Shreveport, La.)
1996: La.-Monroe (Shreveport, La.)
1997: Texas State (Shreveport, La.)
1998: Nicholls (Shreveport, La.)
2007: A&M-Corpus Christi (Houston, Texas)
2009: Stephen F. Austin (Katy, Texas)
2010: Sam Houston State (Katy, Texas)
This Year’s Tournament Field: The eight teams in this year’s Southland tournament have combined to win the event 10 times though two teams – Central Arkansas and Oral Roberts – are making their first tournament appearances. All six teams that have played in the event previously have at least one title with four team having claimed two. McNeese State (1989, 2002), Nicholls State (1995, 1998), Northwestern State (2001, 2006), Sam Houston State (2003, 2010) have each won two tournament titles, while Southeastern Louisiana (2005) and Stephen F. Austin (2009) are in search of their second championships. Central Arkansas is in its third season of postseason eligibility after beginning its transition into the league during the 2006-07 season. Oral Roberts is playing its first season in the league after joining the league last July from the Summit League where it won six regular-season championships. A different team has won the tournament every year since 2005. There has not been a team win consecutive tournament titles since former league member Louisiana-Monroe won four consecutive from 1990-93.
Look Back at 2012 Title Game: Third-seeded Lamar won its sixth consecutive game with a 70-49 victory over McNeese State to capture the program’s fourth Southland Conference title and its first since 2000. The Cardinals exacted revenge against Stephen F. Austin in the semifinals with a 55-44 victory after the Lumberjacks defeated Lamar just 15 days earlier. Coming off a season-high 92-point performance in the semifinals, McNeese State was held to a season-low 49 points and was unable to overcome a 21-2 run by Lamar in the first half. Lamar’s Mike James, the tournament MVP, led the way with 26 points and six boards as an undermanned McNeese State saw a two-game win streak come to a halt while Lamar earned the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. The Cowboys played in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
SFA’s Smith Named Southland Player of the Year: Stephen F. Austin senior Taylor Smith was named the 2012-13 Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. Smith paced the Lumberjacks to their first Southland regular-season conference championship since it won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009. The forward from Schertz, Texas\, is the NCAA Division I leader with a field-goal percentage of 69.6 and ranks second in the conference in rebounding (9.0) and fifth in scoring (15.6). Smith, who transferred from McLennan Community College prior to his junior season, paced the Lumberjacks to a perfect 15-0 home record and scored double figures in 26 of the teams’ 29 games. He finished the regular season with 11 double-doubles, including a 21-point, 18-rebound effort against McNeese State, Jan. 30. Smith scored a season-high 25 points to go with 14 rebounds in SFA’s conference opener against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. He recorded seven 20-point games this season, including a span of four consecutive games in early February. Smith is the third Lumberjack to earn the award and first since Josh Alexander and Matt Kingsley won the award in consecutive seasons in 2008 and 2009.
Smith Also Named Defensive Player of the Year: SFA’s Taylor Smith also earned the conference’s inaugural defensive player of the year award. SFA leads the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to 50.2 points and leads the Southland in field goal percentage defense (37.0) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (27.4). Smith set the school record with 87 blocked shots this season and is averaging 3.0 blocks per game. His 129 two-season total at SFA also is the school’s new standard. The senior led the conference in defensive rebounds (6.2) and finished sixth in minutes played (33.3). Smith and the Lumberjack defense have not allowed a team to score more than 69 points in any game this season.
Kaspar Earns Coach of the Year Honor for Second Time: Stephen F. Austin coach Danny Kaspar picked up Southland coach of the year honors for the second time in his 13 seasons after leading the Lumberjacks to their third Southland crown and first since winning titles in consecutive seasons in 2008 and 2009. SFA brings a 26-3 record into this week’s conference tournament and finished league play with a 16-2 record. SFA is the first Southland team in its 50-year history to win 26 games before the conference tournament, surpassing the previous record of 25 wins (two losses) set by Louisiana Tech in 1985-86 during its run to the NCAA Sweet 16. The Bulldogs ended that season with a 29-3 record. SFA’s 26 overall victories ties the school mark for wins in a season in its Division I era while the 16 league victories tied the program’s win total in the 2002-03 season. SFA, ranked No. 5 in this week’s CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 Poll, leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 50.2 points per contest. This season, the Lumberjacks have held six opponents to 40 or fewer points and have limited the competition to 70 points or less in 61 consecutive games, dating back to the regular-season finale of 2010-11 season. SFA has won 20 or more games for the fifth time in the last six years. Kaspar earned his first coach of the year award in 2008. Former SFA coach Ned Fowler won the award in 1991.
Freshman of the Year is Northwestern State’s West: Northwestern State’s Jalan West is the third Demon to be named the league’s freshman of the year and the first since Jermaine Wallace earned the honor in 2003. West led the Southland in free-throw percentage (83.6), steals per game (2.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.9). The guard from Bossier City, La., ranks third in the conference in assists, averaging 5.4 per game to lead all freshmen. He is also the top freshman in scoring, averaging 10.6 points per game, which ranks 20th among all league players. Additionally, he is tied for ninth with a 36.4 3-point field-goal percentage. In his season debut, West dropped a season-high 26 points while dishing out eight assists in a 118-77 win over East Texas Baptist. He went 11-for-14 from the field including 4-of-7 from 3-point range. In the regular-season finale last Saturday against Sam Houston State, West dished out a season-high 12 assists.
Northwestern State’s Hicks Tabbed League’s Top Newcomer: Northwestern State junior forward DeQuan Hicks becomes the first Demon to be named the league’s newcomer of the year after helping the Demons to a No. 2 seed in the Southland tournament. Hicks, a junior from Racine, Wis., averaged 14.2 points per game, which is 10th best in the Southland. Hicks finished third in field goal percentage (58.3), fifth in steals (1.7) and 12th in rebounding (5.9). The transfer from New Mexico Junior College, has scored double figures in every game this season except for three. He has three 20-point games including a 28-point outburst against LSU in November. The junior turned in a 24-point, 13-rebound effort against Sam Houston State in a 73-64 victory in early January. Hicks is the first Demon to notch the award.
Southland Unveils First All-Defensive Team: For the first time in Southland Conference history, the league selected a five-member all-defensive team, headlined by player of the year Taylor Smith, who was selected as the defensive player of the year. He was joined on the squad by teammates Antonio Bostic and Hal Bateman. Additionally, freshman of the year Jalan West of Northwestern State and Kevin Hardy, who were both honorable mention all-conference selections, joining the SFA trio on the team.
ORU Places Two on All-Conference First Team: First-year Southland Conference member Oral Roberts led all teams with two first-team all-conference selections in senior forward/center Damen Bell-Holter and senior guard Warren Niles. They were joined on the team by Stephen F. Austin senior forward Taylor Smith, who was the conference player and defender of the year, Nicholls State senior guard Fred Hunter and Southeastern Louisiana guard Brandon Fortenberry, who garnered all-league honors for the second time in his career. Four of the first-team selections rank in the top five in the Southland in scoring. Hunter leads the league in scoring, averaging 19.8 points per game overall and 20.6 points in Southland games. Niles is second in the league (16.1), Bell-Holter is fourth (15.8) and Smith is fifth (15.6) while Fortenberry ranks eighth (14.7). The group also accounts for three of the top four rebounders in the league, headlined by Bell-Holter, who clears an average of 9.7 boards per game. Smith is second (9.0) and Hunter is fourth (7.9).
A Quick Look at the Second- and Third-Team All-League Honorees: The second team is comprised of Northwestern State junior forward DeQuan Hicks (14.2 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game), Oral Roberts junior guard/forward Shawn Glover (14.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg), Stephen F. Austin senior guard Antonio Bostic (10.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg), Northwestern State senior forward James Hulbin (12.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Stephen F. Austin senior guard Hal Bateman (7.2 ppg, 5.7 apg). The third-team choices were Southeastern Louisiana senior forward Roosevelt Johnson (10.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg), Northwestern State senior guard Shamir Davis (12.4 ppg, 2.2 apg), Central Arkansas senior forward Jarvis Garner (16.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and junior guard LaQuintin Miles (15.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.2 apg), and McNeese State senior guard Dontae Cannon (12.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.2 apg).
All-Conference Makeup: Seven conference teams placed at least one player on the all-conference teams that were dominated by the top three teams in the standings – Stephen F. Austin, Northwestern State and Oral Roberts – who each placed three selections on the three teams. Central Arkansas and Southeastern Louisiana each had two selections, while McNeese State and Nicholls each had one all-conference honoree.
Repeat All-League Picks: Four all-conference players had been recognized once previously, including Southeastern’s Brandon Fortenberry, who earned third-team honors in 2011 before an injury sidelined him last season. The other three players to repeat on the all-league teams were honored in 2012. Stephen F. Austin’s Antonio Bostic earned second-team honors, while Northwestern’s Shamir Davis and UCA’s LaQuintin Miles earned third-team kudos a season ago.
Stephen F. Austin, Northwestern State Top 20 Wins: Stephen F. Austin and Northwestern State each have topped the 20-point plateau this season. The Lumberjacks won their 20th game of the season Feb. 9 against Oral Roberts to record their fifth 20-win total in the last six seasons. Stephen F. Austin is currently 26-3 and finished 16-2 in conference games. SFA was 20-12 last year, 23-9 in 2009-10, 24-8 in 2008-09 and 26-6 in 2007-08. The Lumberjacks are the first team in the 50-year history of the Southland Conference to win 26 games before the conference tournament. Louisiana Tech was 25-2 before its postseason run to the 1985 NCAA Sweet 16 produced a 29-2 record. Northwestern State has its first 20-win season since the 2005-06 season when it fnished 26-8 after a first-round upset of Iowa in the NCAA tournament. It’s the third 20-win season for the Demons on 14th-year head coach Mike McConathy. Oral Roberts needs two wins to reach 20 and that would give the Southland three 20-win teams in consecutive seasons. Lamar (23), Stephen F. Austin (20) and Texas-Arlington (24) reached the mark last season.
Lumberjacks Ranked Fifth in Mid-Major Poll: Stephen F. Austin continues to climb in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25 Poll and is up to No. 5 this week. That is up one spot from last week after clinching the Southland title with wins against rival Sam Houston State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Lumberjacks are 26-3 overall and finished 16-2 in league play after the win. Gonzaga, which is No. 1 in both the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll and in the AP Poll, also is the top team in the Mid-Major poll and boasts a 31-2 overall record. Northwestern State, which is 21-8 overall and 15-3 in the Southland, received votes in this week’s poll.
SFA is Southland’s RPI Leader: Stephen F. Austin leads all Southland Conference teams in Monday’s NCAA RPI report, which is published every Monday and Friday during the season. The Lumberjacks jumped remained steady at No. 63 this week after jumping 14 spots last week following their March 2 win against Northwestern State. The Demons, slipped one spot to No. 96.
Central Arkansas’ Jarvis Garner Named Southland Player of the Week: Central Arkansas senior Jarvis Garner is the final Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week of the season after he paced Central Arkansas to an upset victory against Oral Roberts, 86-84, in overtime on senior day. The senior from Conway, Ark., netted 34 points, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range. He finished 13-for-24 from the field while grabbing four boards, dishing out three assists and collecting two steals. Garner scored more than 30 points for the third time this season and hit a 30-foot three-pointer to send the game into overtime. In overtime, the senior hit another 3-pointer and a pair of free-throws to secure the victory and the No. 7 seed in the Southland Conference Basketball Tournament.
Southland Conference with Rare Statistical Double: Northwestern State has led the nation in scoring offense and Stephen F. Austin has led the nation in scoring defense since the start of 2013, putting the Southland Conference in rare company in NCAA Division I annals. According to collegehoopedia.com, the only other time two members from the same conference led the nation in scoring offense and scoring the same season was 1980-81 when PCAA (now Big West) affiliates UC Irvine (86.4 points per game) and Fresno State (50.7 opponent points per game) finished atop the national rankings.
Demons Lead NCAA in Scoring Offense: Northwestern State continues to lead all NCAA Division I teams in scoring offense, averaging 82.4 points per game. The Demons are just ahead of Iona, the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament champion, which is averaging 81.3 points per game and Indiana, the Big Ten regular-season champion, which is averaging 80.8 points per game. Iowa State (80.1) and Ole Miss (79.2). Northwestern State scored 66 points in a win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last Thursday before posting 84 points in a defeat of Sam Houston State. The Demons have scored 100 or more points four times this season, including twice against conference opposition, and have scored at least 90 points another four times.
Scoring Offense – Top Five
1. Northwestern St., 82.4
2. Iona, 81.3
3. Indiana, 80.8
4. Iowa St., 80.1
5. Ole Miss, 79.2
Lumberjacks Have Nation’s Best Scoring Defense: Stephen F. Austin continues to be the top scoring team in NCAA Division I, limiting the opposition to an average of 50.2 points per game. The Lumberjacks’ average is better than Western Illinois (52.7), Florida (53.2), Virginia (54.5) and Denver (55.1). In 29 games, opponents have averaged only a little better than 50 points against SFA, which has held six teams to 40 points or less and 14 teams to less than 50 points, including both opponents last week. SFA limited Sam Houston State to 43 points and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to 49 points. SFA has not allowed an opponent to score 70 points in a game since the final game of the 2010-11 season, now a span of 61 games.
Scoring Defense – Top Five
1. Stephen F. Austin, 50.2
2. Western Illinois , 52.7
3. Florida, 53.2
4. Virginia, 54.5
5. Denver, 55.1
SFA’s Smith Leads Nation in Field Goal Percentage: Stephen F. Austin senior forward Taylor Smith, the 2013 Southland Conference Player of the Year, entered the week leading all NCAA Division I players in field goal percentage. He has connected on 190 of 276 shots for 68.8 percent. Among the top five players nationally, are North Dakota State’s Marshall Bjorklund (67.4), Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk (65.5), Indiana’s Victor Oladipo (61.4) and North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren (61.3). Last week, Smith made 9 of 17 shots in two games last week, but was only 2 for 5 for nine points against Sam Houston State. That snapped a string of 12 consecutive games in double figures and was only the third time this season he didn’t score at least 10 points in a game. His 15.6 points per game rank fourth among Southland scorers.
Individual Field Goal Percentage – Top Five
1. Taylor Smith, Stephen F. Austin, 68.8
2. Marshall Bjorklund, North Dakota St., 67.4
3. Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga, 65.5
4. Victor Oladipo, Indiana, 61.4
5. T.J. Warren, North Carolina St. , 61.3
No. 1 Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks notched a pair of home wins last week with a 57-42 victory over Sam Houston State and a 58-49 win against A&M-Corpus Christi ... senior Taylor Smith was named the Southland Conference Player of the Year as well as the inaugural Defensive Player of the Year ... Smith (15.6), Antonio Bostic (10.3) and Desmond Haymon (10.0) are averaging double figures ... Bostic and senior Hal Bateman joined Smith on the all-defensive team and earn second-team all-conference recognition ... SFA finished the regular season 26-3 and has won at least 20 games for the fifth time in the last six seasons ... the Lumberjacks lead the nation in scoring defense (50.2) and lead the Southland in most defensive categories ... aside from a strong defense, SFA leads the league in field-goal percentage (46.6) ... the Lumberjacks are second in assists (15.7) and steals (8.2) ... Smith is fifth in scoring (15.6), second in rebounding (9.0), first in field-goal percentage (68.8) and blocked shots (3.0) and sixth in minutes played (33.3) ... Bateman paces the conference in assists (5.7) ... coach Danny Kaspar was honored with the Southland Conference Coach of the Year award for the second time in his coaching career (2008) ... SFA has hasn’t allowed 70 points in its last 61 games ... the Lumberjacks are one of two teams in the country to sport the same starting five all season ... SFA is 12-15 in 16 postseason appearances with its lone title in 2009 ... the Lumberjacks have finished runner up on three occasions ... SFA earned the No. 1 seed and will wait to play the winner of Southeastern and McNeese and Nicholls on Friday at 5 p.m.
No. 2 Northwestern State: The Demons snapped a two-game skid last week with convincing wins over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (66-51) and Sam Houston State (84-73) at home ... James Hulbin paced the squad with 17 points in the win against the Islanders while the defense churned out a solid performance allowing 51 points, which marks the second-lowest output on the season ... Shamir Davis netted 24 points on senior day against the Bearkats while the Demons won their 21st game of the year ... Northwestern’s 21 wins are the most since the 2005-06 season (26) and marks the seventh time in the last nine years that Northwestern has won at least 15 games ... its the third time under Mike McConathy that the Demons won 20 or more games ... Hulbin earned all-Southland second-team honors finishing in the top-15 in scoring (12.5), rebound (5.9), field-goal percentage (51.4), three-point percentage (37.5) and blocked shots (0.9) ... Davis claimed third-team honors while the offense leads the nation in scoring (82.4) ... Jalan West was tabbed as freshman of the year after he led the conference in free-throw percentage (83.6), turnover ratio (+2.9) and steals (2.4) while sitting third in assists (5.4) ... he always earned all-defensive team honors ... junior DeQuan Hicks was tabbed as newcomer of the year and second-team all-Southland honors leading the team in scoring (14.2) and tied for team in rebounds per game (5.9) while sitting third in field-goal percentage (58.3) ... the Demons are in the top-three in most offensive categories and leads the Southland in blocked shots (4.8) ... the Demons finished the season with a 13-1 mark at home and enjoyed a 10-game win streak that spanned from Jan. 19-Feb. 19 ... Northwestern is making its 16th postseason appearance and is 17-13 with two titles and four-runner up finishes ... however, the Demons haven’t won in the postseason since 2008 and its last title came in 2006 ... it enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed and won’t see action until Friday after receiving a bye until the semifinals ... the Demons will face either Oral Roberts, Sam Houston State or Central Arkansas.
No. 3 Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles stumbled in the regular-season finale at Central Arkansas and fell 86-84 in overtime on the road ... despite the loss, all-Southland first-team representative Warren Niles scored 30 points including going 7-for-14 from 3-point range ... Steven Roundtree (21), Damen Bell-Holter (16) and Shawn Glover (12) all chipped in with double figures ... ORU has lost three of its last four games, but none by more than four points ... Bell-Holter joined Niles with first-team recognition ... Glover earned second-team honors ... Oral Roberts finished the regular season with a 18-13 mark overall and 13-5 in conference play ... coach Scott Sutton’s squad is balanced on both sides of the ball sitting third in scoring offense (70.8) and scoring defense (66.5) ... the Golden Eagles lead the Southland in free-throw percentage (74.1), 3-point percentage (36.9) and are tied for second in field-goal percentage (46.2) ... Niles (19.1) is second in the Southland in scoring while Bell-Holter is fourth (15.8) and Glover is ninth (14.4) ... Bell-Holter leads the league in rebounding (9.7) and Niles is second in three-point percentage (41.4) and third in free-throw percentage (80.8) ... the Golden Eagles are making their Southland Conference postseason debut as the No. 3 seed and will play Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ... ORU will face the winner of the Sam Houston State vs. Central Arkansas game ... Oral Roberts swept Sam Houston State (65-61, overtime and 74-64) ... the Bears and Golden Eagles split with each team winning at home ... ORU muscled its way to a 94-65 victory in Tulsa before UCA got revenge with a 86-84 overtime win Saturday.
No. 4 Southeastern Louisiana: The Lions finished the season on a high note snapping a four-game losing skid with wins at home against McNeese State (79-68) and Lamar (86-72) ... senior Brandon Fortenberry produced back-to-back 20-point performances, 23 and 26, respectively ... he was tabbed as an all-Southland first-team member ... teammate Roosevelt Johnson earned second-team honors after averaging 10.6 points per contest ... Southeastern finished the regular season with a 12-17 record and a 10-8 conference record ... with consecutive wins, it marked the first time since Jan. 26 & 31 the Lions won back-to-back games ... Southeastern shot 51.5 percent (17-for-33) in the second half against Lamar while scoring 51 points ... the Lions are third in the conference in 3-point percentage (34.5) ... Fortenberry (14.5) is eighth in scoring in the Southland ... Johnson is third in rebounding (8.3) ... junior Jeffery Ricard is fourth in free-throw percentage (79.5) ... Fortenberry is the fourth Lion in school history to earn first-team honors and is the first since Ricky Woods did so in 2006 ... junior Dre Evans is third in 3-point percentage (40.4) ... the Lions are making their ninth postseason appearance in the Southland and 5-7 in the tournament ... Southeastern won its only title in 2005 with a 49-42 win over Northwestern State ... the Lions will face off against the winner of McNeese and Nicholls State on Thursday at 5 p.m. ... Southeastern split with the Cowboys with each team winning at home ... coach Jim Yarbrough’s squad defeated McNeese, 79-68, last Thursday in Hammond but dropped a 65-58 decision Feb. 19 ... the Lions swept Nicholls with 70-65 and 73-62 victories.
No. 5 Nicholls State: The Colonels cruised past Lamar, 90-63, last Thursday behind a 23-point performance from Fred Hunter ... Nicholls dropped a double-overtime decision, 91-88, in its season finale Saturday to McNeese ... Hunter recorded a double-double (32 points, 12 rebounds) in the loss to the Cowboys ... Hunter (23), Dantrell Thomas (21), JaMarkus Horace (16) and T.J. Carpenter (14) had double figures against Lamar ... Hunter, an all-Southland first-team representative, leads the conference in scoring (19.8), sits third in steals (1.8) and is fourth in rebounding (7.9) ... Hunter is the first Colonel to earn first-team honors since Anatoly Rose did so in 2011 ... Nicholls is fourth in field-goal percentage (44.1) and dishes out 12.5 assists per contest ... junior guard Jeremy Smith is sixth in the conference in field-goal percentage (51.3) ... Thomas is the second best free-throw shooter in the Southland (81.8 percent) ... coach J.P. Piper’s squad finished the regular season with a 9-20 record and it marks the first time since the 2006-07 season that Nicholls hasn’t won double-digit games ... however, Nicholls finished 8-10 in conference play and hold the No. 5 seed ... the Colonels are 7-10 in 12 postseason appearances and has notched two championships (1995 and 1998) ... Nicholls will take on No. 8 seed McNeese Wednesday at 5 p.m. ... the teams split this season with each winning on the road ... the two games were decided by a total of four points ... the Colonels win a thriller, 64-63, Jan. 7 behind a 24-point outburst by Thomas before dropping a 91-88 double-overtime battle in the regular-season finale last Saturday ... the teams last met in the postseason in 2011 with No. 1 seed McNeese winning 61-54.
No. 6 Sam Houston State: The Bearkats dropped a pair of road games last week to Stephen F. Austin (57-42) and Northwestern State (84-73) and reaches the postseason with losses in five of its last six games ... James Thomas has led the team in scoring the last four games with 10-point and 16-point efforts, respectively, in his last two games ... the Bearkat defense stymies opponents, allowing 61.5 points per contest, which is second best in the Southland ... Sam Houston is second in 3-pointers made (6.5) ... senior Darius Gatson is sixth in the Southland in assists (3.3) while Nathaniel Mason is fifth in free-throw percentage (76.5) ... no Bearkat is averaging double figures, but four players sit between 8.1 and 9.5 ... Thomas (9.4), Erik Williams (8.5), Gatson (8.5) and DeMarcus Gaitlin (8.1) ... Thomas paces the squad in boards (5.7) while Gatson leads the way in assists (3.3) ... coach Jason Hooten’s squad will be led by nine upperclassman in the tournament (eight juniors and a senior) ... the Bearkats finished the regular season 15-16 and 8-10 in conference play ... Sam Houston holds the No. 6 seed and will tangle with No. 7 seed Central Arkansas Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ... the winner advances to play Oral Roberts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday ... the Bearkats are making their 16th postseason appearance and are 12-13 ... they won the 2010 tournament as the No. 1 seed with a 64-48 win over Stephen F. Austin ... Sam Houston took home 2003 title and finished runnerup in the 2006 tournament ... Sam Houston won both games against UCA in the regular season ... the Bearkats won 63-52 behind a 19-point performance from Paul Baxter Jan. 17 before winning 80-75 on Feb. 16.
No. 7 Central Arkansas: The Bears upset Oral Roberts, 86-84, in overtime on senior day in Conway ... UCA finished the regular season on a four-game win streak and a 13-16 record ... the final two games of the year were decided by a total of three points ... senior Jarvis Garner was lights out, dropping 34 points against ORU while shooting 13 of 24 from the field, including 6 of 11 from 3-point range ... UCA shot an impressive 61.3 percent (19-for-31) in the second half ... senior Robert Crawford (18) and junior LaQuentin Miles (12) chipped in with double figures ... Garner and Miles earned all-Southland third-team honors ... the trio of Garner (16.1), Miles (15.3) and Crawford (15.0) all average double figures while Garner leads the squad in rebounds (6.9) ... coach Corliss Williamson’s squad (13) is one win shy of the matching the most since the school joined the Southland (14, 2007-08) ... UCA is second in the conference in 3-point percentage (35.4) and is third in assists (14.2) ... the Bears pace the conference with 7.2 3-pointers made per contest ... Garner (16.1) is third in the Southland in points per game while Miles (3.2) is eighth in assists ... UCA is making its first appearance in the Southland tournament and will occupy the No. 7 seed ... the Bears will square off with No. 6 seed Sam Houston State, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ... UCA fell to Sam Houston in both matchups this year ... the Bearkats won 63-52 at home before taking an 80-75 decision Feb. 16 ... the second matchup proved to be physical as both teams visited the free-throw line frequently as Sam Houston State went 30-for-45 and UCA went 24-for-36.
No. 8 McNeese State: The Cowboys dropped a 79-68 game to Southeastern Louisiana last Thursday before winning their season finale in thrilling fashion as McNeese downed Nicholls, 91-88, in double overtime ... Desharick Guidry led the way netting 34 points to go with 13 rebounds ... third-team all-Southland representative Dontae Cannon chipped in 20 points in the victory while McNeese finished the regular season with 13-16 overall and 7-11 in Southland play ... Guidry (12.7) and Cannon (12.1) average double figures, but Kevin Hardy (9.7) is close behind ... Guidry sits sixth in the conference in rebounds (7.6) while Hardy, who earned all-defensive team honors, is second in steals (2.2) and fourth in assists (4.6) ... freshman Austin Lewis is third in blocked shots per contest (1.6) ... coach Dave Simmons team has made the championship game in the last two years in the Southland tournament, however, the Cowboys have been on the short end on both occasions, yet still reached the postseason, playing in the NIT in 2011 and in the CollegeInsider Postseason Tournament last year ... McNeese is the No. 8 seed and will battle No. 5 seed Nicholls State, Wednesday at 5 p.m., with the winner taking on Southeastern Louisiana ... McNeese is 20-22 in 25 tournament appearances with two championships and four runner-up finishes ... it’s 26th trip to the tournament ties Texas-Arlington for most all time ... the 22 postseason wins is the most for any Southland member ... the McNeese offense is lively in tournament action as it leads the Southland with 76.3 points per game ... the Cowboys and Colonels have played two close games with each team winning on the road ... Nicholls squeaked out a 64-63 decision Jan. 7 before McNeese won a 91-88, double overtime decision last Saturday.
Southland’s 50th Birthday is Friday: Celebrating a half-century of academic achievement and competitive success, the Southland Conference embarks on a special commemoration of its 50th anniversary in 2013. The celebration coincides with the Southland’s 17 championship sports during 2013, starting with the league’s 50th season of men’s basketball and continuing through the 50th football season next fall. Founded on March 15, 1963, five institutions of higher learning – known then as Abilene Christian College, Arkansas State College, Arlington State College, Lamar State College of Technology, and Trinity University – formed the new consortium that campus officials at the time stated “will be guided by officials who aim to operate the conference on high academic levels and sound ethics.” Officials touted “The Conference hopes to give two states – Arkansas and Texas – a bright new era of added athletic excellence. In addition, the conference will fill the needs of five modern, growing colleges with athletic competition calculated to build an increasing host of fans.” While the original intent of the Southland founders was to soon add other “like-strength” colleges after the conference’s formation, the original five members remained intact until the 1971-72 additions of Louisiana Tech and Southwestern Louisiana, and the 1972-73 addition of McNeese State brought the conference into Louisiana, and began a number of membership changes that have included 22 major universities in the South and Southwest since then.
League Honoring All-Decade Teams: The Southland Conference has already announced its All-Decade Teams for the 1960s, 1970s 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as part of its year-long celebration of its 50th anniversary. In addition to honoring the top student-athletes in each 10-year span, the conference is also recognizing the top player and coach of each decade. Larry Jeffries (1965-69) of Trinity University, was selected as the Player of the Decade for the 1960s. He is the first four-time all-Southland choice, a two-time Southland Conference Player of the Year, and a three-time All-American. The co-head coaches of the conference’s first decade are Abilene Christian’s Dee Nutt and Lamar’s Jack Martin. Dwight “Bo” Lamar was named the Player of the Decade for the 1970s. The guard at Louisiana-Lafayette was a two-time all-conference selection and the 1972 player of the year. Billy Tubbs, the Lamar head coach from 1976-80, was recognized as the Coach of the Decade after leading the Cardinals to three conference championships and two NCAA tournament berths. Another member of the 1970s All-Decade Team is current Northwestern State head coach Mike McConathy, who was a standout guard at Louisiana Tech from 1973-77. McNeese State head coach Dave Simmons was a guard at Louisiana Tech from 1977-81 and earned a spot on the 1980s All-Decade Team. Former McNeese State guard Joe Dumars was selected as the Player of the Decade for the 1980s. He was a four-time first-team all-conference selection, the 1985 Player of the Year, the 1982 Freshman of the Year and a two-time all-tournament team selection. Louisiana Tech forward Karl Malone, joins Dumars on the team. Both players are members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Lamar coach Pat Foster and Louisiana Tech coach Andy Russo are the Co-Head Coaches of the 1980s. Nicholls State foward/center Reggie Jackson (1991-95), the 1995 Player of the Year and only the third four-time first-team all-conference player, was named the Player of the Decade. Louisiana-Monroe’s Mike Vining was named the Coach of the Decade for the 1990s much in part to his 201-124 record in a decade when he was named Coach of the Year three times. In the 2000s, there were Co-Players of the Decade with the selection of Southeastern Louisiana’s Ricky Woods (2004-06) and Texas-San Antonio’s LeRoy Hurd (2002-04). Woods was the 2006 Player of the Year while Hurd was the 2004 Player of the Year. The Coach of the Decade was Sam Houston State’s Bob Marlin, whose 190 wins between the 1999-2000 season and the 1998-99 season were unmatched by his peers. In 12 seasons with the Bearkats, Marlin’s teams were 225-130 and won three regular-season and two tournament titles.
Southland Conference Will Grow to 14 Teams for 2013-14: Oral Roberts University is the new kid on the block in the Southland Conference this season, but it will become an instant veteran of the league in 2013-14 when the conference welcomes four more schools into the fold, increasing the membership to 14 institutions. The league announced last November that Houston Baptist University would join the Southland, but this past August Southland commissioner Tom Burnett announced the addition of three more schools. The University of New Orleans, Abilene Christian University and the University of the Incarnate Word will be welcomed into the conference July 1, 2013, giving the Southland members in key population centers Houston, San Antonio and New Orleans, all home to significant student-recruitment and alumni bases. Additionally, original Southland Conference member Abilene Christian, one of the most decorated athletic programs in the NCAA, will return to the league after a 40-year absence. ACU and UIW will be transitioning from NCAA Division II and will not be eligible to win the conference championship during their transition periods, which should be complete in time for the 2017-18 season.
Are You Southland Strong? The Southland Conference has launched a new marketing campaign known as “Southland Strong.” The motto encompasses a positive mindset and confident outlook for everything that happens in the Southland. It is about competitiveness and success in the conference, in the NCAA, in professional sports and many other great achievements by member institutions and student-athletes. But it is more than just excelling in competition; it is also about being successful in the classroom and in the workforce. Southland Strong is also about great works by the league’s athletic departments reaching out and giving back to the local communities and student-athletes providing leadership through their endless efforts with local charity and youth groups. The conference encourages its member institutions and student-athletes to help promote the campaign by joining the social media conversation by using the #SouthlandStrong hashtag to tell why someone or something is Southland Strong.
To comment, the following rules must be followed:
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.
Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide detailed information.