Lamar opens Southland play at SFA on Thursday
Jan. 1, 2013
NACOGDOCHES - After 11 straight games away from home to open the season, life doesn't get any easier for the Lamar University men's basketball team as the Cardinals open Southland Conference play at Stephen F. Austin on Thursday evening. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. from Johnson Coliseum.
The Cardinals carry a 2-10 record into Thursday's contest following an 81-80 win over LIU Brooklyn in Saturday's home opener. The Lumberjacks are an impressive 10-1 on the year and are coming off a 67-56 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in their league opener.
The game will be broadcast live on KLVI 560 AM with Dave Hofferth handling the play-by-play. It will also be televised on Comcast SportsNet Houston (CSN).
This will be the 51st meeting between the two schools with the series knotted at 25 wins apiece. The two schools met twice last year with SFA winning 62-52 in Beaumont and the Cards knocking the Lumberjacks out of the Southland Tournament with a 55-44 win in the semifinals. SFA holds a 15-8 advantage in games played in Nacogdoches.
In the second meeting, the Cardinals opened a 26-19 lead at the half and continued to pull away in the second half on their way to winning the league tournament. Lamar limited the second seeded Lumberjacks to 30.2 percent shooting on the night.
Lamar used an eight minute stretch midway through the second half to put the game away. The Cardinals did not allow a point to SFA from the 14:20 mark until the 6:19 mark, while scoring 12 straight points and building a 44-26 lead.
The Cards' Anthony Miles led all players with 17 points, adding seven rebounds, five assists and five steals. Mike James added 14 points for Lamar, scoring 10 in the second half. Devon Lamb scored all 10 of his points in the first half, while Charlie Harper contributed 10 points and four rebounds off the Lamar bench.
Taylor Smith led the Lumberjacks with 14 points and eight rebounds. Jereal Scott scored nine points, but was just 3-of-10 from the floor, while Antonio Bostic, a first-team all-conference selection, managed just five points.
Lamar will be playing its 62nd conference opener and the Cardinals have fashioned a 39-22 record in the previous 61 games. Last year, the Cardinals opened Southland play by winning 74-58 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The Cardinals have a 25-13 record in their 38 Southland Conference openers, including a 13-10 record on the road. Lamar has won five of its last six conference openers with the loss coming three seasons ago at Southeastern Louisiana. Since rejoining the Southland Conference for the 1998-99 season, Lamar is 8-6 in conference openers.
Senior Stan Brown and freshman Keilan Blanks are each coming off career-high 18-point performances in the Cards' win over LIU. The duo also combined for the game-winning shot as Blanks found Brown open under the basket for the go ahead field goal.
The Cardinals, who are shooting 42.5 percent from the floor on the year, connected on a season-high 55.0 percent of their field goal attempts against the Blackbirds. Lamar also enjoyed a 41-34 rebound advantage over LIU.
Lamar will face a stiff defensive test in SFA as the Lumberjacks allow fewer points per game than any team in the nation at 49.5. SFA is also scoring over 66 points per game as compared to the Cardinals who are scoring 59.2 and allowing 77.1 points per game.
Redshirt freshman Rhon Mitchell, who is coming off a 16-point performance against LIU, leads the Cardinals in scoring at 11.7 points per game. Brown is the Cards' only other double-figure scorer at 10.1 points per game and leads the team with 6.3 rebounds per contest.
Lamar also received a boost in Saturday's win over LIU from former Port Neches-Groves High School star Brennan Doty. Playing 21 minutes off the bench, Doty finished with seven points and a team-high eight rebounds in his Lamar debut.
SFA, which ranks eighth in the country in steals per game at 10.4, is shooting 46.2 percent from the floor, 28.7 percent from 3-point range and 61.6 percent from the free throw line.
The Lumberjacks have used the same starting lineup for each of their 11 games this season. Smith leads the team with 15.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Senior guard Hal Bateman is adding 5.1 points per game and dishing out 7.2 assists per contest to rank among the top 10 nationally.