Lamar Travels To Stephen F. Austin For Southland Battle

GO CARDINALS Lamar travels to Nacogdoches for a Thursday night contest at Stephen F. Austin. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m.
Lamar travels to Nacogdoches for a Thursday night contest at Stephen F. Austin. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m.

Jan. 16, 2008

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Following Saturday's 81-56 win over UTSA in the Southland Conference opener, Lamar will travel to Stephen F. Austin in search of its first road win of the season on Thursday. The contest will open a stretch where the Cardinals will play four of their next six on the road.

Lamar-SFA Series History
Thursday's game is the 44th meeting between Lamar and SFA with the Cardinals holding a 23-21 all-time series lead. Lamar is 8-12 in Nacogdoches - despite taking a 70-65 decision on Jan. 12, 2006. The teams split their home-and-home series in 2005-06, with each winning on the road, while SFA won 73-72 in overtime in Beaumont last season. Since returning to the SLC in 1998-99, Lamar is 10-6 vs. SFA.

Scouting SFA The Lumberjacks enter Thursday's game 13-2 overall and 1-1 in Southland play. SFA had won 11-consecutive before a 57-56 overtime loss at Nicholls State a week ago. They rebounded for a 48-45 win at SE Louisiana on Saturday.

Juniors Matt Kingsley and Josh Alexander lead SFA in nearly every statistical category. Kingsley ranks first in scoring (16.1 ppg), FG pct (.561), FT pct (.731) and blocks (21), while Alexander paces the Jacks in 3-point FG made (42), 3FG pct (.404) and rebounds (5.6 rpg), while ranking second in scoring (15.7) and steals (22).

SFA opened the year with a 12-1 mark - its best since joining Division I in 1986-87 - and has done most of its damage with its defense. The Jacks lead the SLC and rank second nationally with a 53.3 scoring defense, while their .379 FG pct defense ranks fourth in the league and 17th nationally.

Sanders' .647 FG Pct Ranks Seventh In The Nation... Sort Of
Senior F Lamar Sanders ranks second in the Southland in FG pct with a .647 clip. While his season figures of 66-for-102 register with the SLC leaders, he is four made baskets shy of qualifying for the NCAA Division I leaders list - of which he would rank seventh entering the SFA contest.

Sanders Named SLC Player of the Week
The senior from Hickory Flat, Miss., was named the Southland Conference Player of the Week after leading Lamar to a pair of victories while averaging 16.5 points (on 15-of-19 shooting for a .789 FG pct.) and 6.5 boards. He posted a season-high 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go along with five rebounds, four assists and four steals in the come-from-behind win over Utah Valley State and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the floor against UTSA in the conference-opener as he finished with 15 points, a team-high eight rebounds and a pair of steals. This marks the second time in his two-year career at Lamar that he has earned the honor. he shared POW plaudits with Kevin Menifee of A&M-CC the last week of the regular-season a year ago.

Barrow Goes For 14 In Last Two Games
In the last few weeks, senior G Matthew Barrow has started to get the shooting stroke back that saw him make 85 3-pointers in his first two seasons at Lamar. He has posted three-consecutive double-figure scoring games, including back-to-back season-high 14-point efforts last week in games he started in place of the injured Brandon McThay. In the last three games he has averaged 13.0 points and made 8-of-20 (.400) shots from outside. For his career, he now has 107 3-pointers and is currently 19 away from cracking the Lamar career top-10 list.

Who's It Going To Be Tonight?
Over the course of the season, nine different players have recorded at least one double-figure scoring game. That is the most of any Southland school and the eighth-most in the NCAA.

11 Wofford 10 Belmont, Creighton, Duquesne, Lipscomb, Navy, SW Missouri State 9 Lamar

Cardinal Glass Cleaning Company
One reason for the improved play over the last seven games has been Lamar's ability to attack the offensive glass and get second-chance opportunities. On the year, the Cardinals are fourth in the SLC with 13.8 offensive rebounds per game, but over the past seven contests are pulling down 15.7 a night. In the last four games, Lamar has outscored its opponents 50-18 in second-chance points.

The Magic Number is... 70
Lamar is 6-2 this season when scoring at least 70 points and 6-2 when holding its opponents under 70. The Cardinals are now 20-7 in two seasons under coach Steve Roccaforte when reaching the 70-point plateau.

Lamar In The NCAA Rankings
Lamar enters the SFA contest ranked in the top 60 in three categories: scoring offense-37th, assists per game-43rd and steals per game-30th. Additionally, Kenny Dawkins ranks 34th in free throw percentage at 87.0 pct.

Close Ones
The Cardinals have lost seven games this season but four have been especially agonizing for the LU faithful. In losses to Wyoming (75-71), Oral Roberts (65-57) and at Northern Illinois (65-63), Lamar was unable to maintain second-half leads in each contest. LU led Wyoming by 12 with 18:03 left and by 5 with 5:36 left; five days later against ORU the Cards had an 11-point lead in the first half and led 49-48 with 7:41 to play before being surrendering 11-consecutive points over the next 3:41; and after taking a 13-point lead on NIU with 16:54 remaining, LU was outscored 29-14 the rest of the way as the Huskies second-chance tip-in at the buzzer proved to be the difference. The Cardinals nearly pulled off a big upset last Tuesday at Texas Tech when the game was tied at 77 with 1:20 to play. But following a pair of Tech free throws with 22.5 seconds to play, Brandon McThay's 3-point attempt rimmed out as time expired.

Forcing Turnovers
The Cardinals' defense has done a very good job in forcing turnovers this season. Lamar has forced 258 turnovers while committing 210 miscues. LU is first in the SLC with a 3.67 turnover margin. The Cardinals have forced their opponents into at least 20 turnovers seven times this season, including five of the last eight. Rice, Lyon College, Louisiana College and LeTourneau all committed more turnovers than field goals made.

Cardinals In Conference Openers
Lamar improved to 36-21 all-time in conference openers with a 22-4 mark in openers at home. The Cardinals are 22-12 as a Southland Conference member and 11-3 in Beaumont. Since rejoining the SLC in 1998-99, the Cardinals are 5-5 with a 3-1 mark in the Montagne Center.

14-Point Comeback Win Best Under Roc
Lamar's 14-point come-from-behind win over Utah Valley State last Tuesday marked the largest margin overcome to win a game under second-year coach Steve Roccaforte. The Cardinals trailed 60-46 with 12:33 to play before a 23-4 outburst propelled them to their fifth-consecutive home win. Since the 1999-2000 season, it is the sixth-largest deficit a Lamar team has come back from and won the game.

Triple Double-Double Sets School Record
When Darren Hopkins, Justin Nabors and Lamar Sanders each posted a double-double in the win over Lyon College (12/29), the trio combined to make school history when the trio became the first group of Lamar players to post three double-doubles in the same game.

The Season of Giving... and Keeping
Over the last eight games, Lamar has averaged 19.5 assists per game, compared to just over 12 apg during the first six games. In fact, the Cardinals have assisted on 61.4 percent of their field goals over the stretch. They have also done a better job of taking care of the basketball, turning it over 14.3 times - well below the 17.7 early on in the season. In fact, LU's turnover margin has gone from +1.5 to +6.0 and sits at +4.1 on the season, which leads the Southland Conference.

Sharing The Rock - 75% of the Time
In the win over Lyon College (12/29), Lamar assisted on 28 of its 40 baskets for a 70 percent rate - a season high. That is until Tuesday when the Cardinals dished out 21 assists on 28 buckets for a new season-high of 75 percent. Other top assists-to-field goals made ratios included: 62.5% (15a to 24 fg) vs. Wyoming and 60.9 (14a to 23 fg) vs. Rice.

Lamar With Three In SLC Top 15 In 3-Pointers
Lamar is the only school in the SLC with three players ranking in the top 15 in 3-point field goal percentage. Currye Todd ranks second at 47.6%, Brandon McThay is fourth at 46.2 percent and Kenny Dawkins is rated sixth at 41.0%. As a team, the Cardinals rank first at 36.2% and second in 3-pointers made per game at 7.93.

More On The 3-Ball
Since Steve Roccaforte took over at Lamar last season, the Cardinals have made 371 total 3-pointers for an average of 8.1 per game. In those 46 games, LU has made at least 10 treys 16 times, including five this year. The season-high 16 made against Louisiana College on Dec. 8 are tied for the third-most in school history, 13th-most in the NCAA in 2007-08 and the second-most in the SLC this season. Only once in the past two seasons have the Cardinals failed to make less than four in a game (vs. NSU in the 2007 SLC Tournament).

Double-Double Trouble
Following the record-setting three double-doubles on against Lyon (12/29), a total of three players have combined for six double-doubles this season. Justin Nabors ranks third in the SLC with three on the year. Senior Lamar Sanders, who led the team with 12 double-doubles last season, has a pair thus far and Darren Hopkins has posted one.

Checking the RPI and Sagarin Ratings
In the latest NCAA RPI Rankings, Lamar is listed at 288 (up six spots from last week), while SFA is 81. In the Sagarin Ratings, Lamar is ranked 249th. Sam Houston State is the highest ranked SLC team at 78, followed by Stephen F. Austin at 83 and UTA at 117. The SLC is rated 24th among 31 conferences and the Pac-10 is the top-rated conference.



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