6-5 Southeastern Louisiana 5 Shreveport, La. In the Islanders’ Bracket: On the other side of the bracket, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi locked up the No. 2 seed with a 58-44 victory over Nicholls on Saturday. The Islanders are back in the tournament for the first time since 2010 and the fourth time overall. A&M-Corpus Christi won its first tournament in 2007 and has won one game in each of their other two appearances (2009 and 2010). The Islanders are 17-14 overall and finished 14-4 during the conference slate. A&M-Corpus Christi, like SFA, has a double bye into semifinals and will play its first game Friday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN3. Shreveport, La. Katy, Texas 2005 SFA Men, Women Sweep Regular-Season Titles: Stephen F. Austin has won regular-season Southland Conference titles in both men’s and women’s basketball this year to become just the second school to claim men’s and women’s titles in the same year. McNeese State was the first to do it in 2011. The Lumberjacks will be the No. 1 seed in the men’s tournament, while the Ladyjacks will be the No. 2 seed after sharing this year’s championship with Lamar, the top seed. 1989, 2002 Sam Houston State Championship Game to Air on ESPN2: The championship game will be covered exclusively ESPN2 Saturday at 7:30 p.m., CT. Carter Blackburn returns to call the Southland Conference final and will be joined alongside Stephen Howard as the color analyst. The trophy presentation to the champion and runner up, as well as the all-tournament team, will be carried live on ESPN3. 2 6 Other Ways to Follow the Tournament: The official website for the 2014 Southland Conference Basketball Tournament is www.Southland.org/katy. The official twitter feed, @Countdown2Katy, 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 Records Since 2007 1 Under Underwood’s tutelage, the Lumberjacks became the first Southland team to win 29 games in the regular season, matching the 1985 Louisiana Tech team that finished 29-3 after reaching the Sweet 16. SFA finished a perfect 15-0 at home for the second consecutive year and has run its home-court win streak to 33 games, which is tied with Duke for the best in Division I. The team’s 26-game overall win streak obliterated the former conference record of 19 set by Louisiana Tech in 1992-93 and 1993-94. SFA leads the nation with 14 road wins this season and their current 12-game road win streak is tied with Wichita State for the national lead. Underwood follows former SFA coach Danny Kaspar, who won the award last season, and is the fourth Lumberjack recipient of the honor. Kaspar was a two-time Southland coach of the year (2008 and 2013) and Ned Fowler claimed the honor in 1991. App. Regular-Season Champion Has Used Neutral Floor to Sweep Titles Seven Times: Of the 15 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. FRISCO, Texas – Stephen F. Austin is the top seed in this year’s Southland Conference Basketball Tournament March 12-16 at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy, Texas. The Lumberjacks will be trying to do something it did not do last year and that is lay claim to the tournament title and the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. SFA has already done something this year that no other team in the conference’s previous 50 years had done and that is finish perfect in an 18-game league schedule. In fact, the Lumberjacks became the first Southland team to go unbeaten in conference play since former Southland member Arkansas State won all of its eight games in 1966-67. Northwestern State denied SFA of its second Southland tournament title and NCAA berth last year in the championship game. The Lumberjacks are trying to add a tournament championship trophy to sit next to the one they won in 2009. They open begin that quest after a double-bye into the semifinals on Friday at 5 p.m., CT on ESPN3. 7 3 Stephen F. Austin 2 Lamar Stephen F. Austin This Year’s Tournament Field: The eight teams in this year’s Southland tournament have combined to win the event 12 times. Seven of the eight teams that have played in the event previously have at least one title with three teams having claimed two and one – Northwestern State – that has three tournament wins. Northwestern State won its titles in 2001, 2006 and 2013. McNeese State (1989, 2002), Nicholls (1995, 1998), Sam Houston State (2003, 2010) have each won two tournament titles, while Southeastern Louisiana (2005), Stephen F. Austin (2009) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi are in search of their second championships. Northwestern State’s tournament win last year snapped an eight-year run where eight different teams claimed titles. There has not been a team win consecutive tournament titles since former league member Louisiana-Monroe won four consecutive from 1990-93. 8-6 In the Polls: Stephen F. Austin remains No. 2 for the third consecutive week in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 behind Wichita State (34-0). It is the highest ever ranking in the poll by the Lumberjacks, who sat at No. 3 for three consecutive weeks behind the Shockers and Gonzaga (26-6), which holds on to the No. 3 spot. North Dakota State (23-6) and Harvard (26-4) round out the top five. For the eighth consecutive week, SFA is also receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. The Lumberjacks are receiving 17 votes in the coaches’ poll and 56 votes in this week’s Associated Press Poll, which is No. 27. 3 7-5 First Two Rounds to be Streamed on Southland Digital Network: The first four games of the men’s tournament will be streamed live for free on the Southland Conference Digital Network, including Southland.org/watch and the league’s iPhone and Android Apps available at Southland.org/apps. David Saltzman will handle play-by-play duties for the two games Wednesday night and the two games Thursday night. 1 All-Conference Breakdown: Ten conference teams placed at least one player on the all-conference teams, led by first-place SFA, who landed three players – one on each of the three teams. Northwestern State, Oral Roberts and Sam Houston State each garnered two selections. Central Arkansas, McNeese State, Nicholls and A&M-Corpus Christi were joined by first-year members UIW and New Orleans with one selection each. Pct. Tournament News & Notes (PDF) .167 SFA Enjoying Historic Season: The Lumberjacks are 29-2 overall and finished 18-0 in the Southland Conference. SFA becomes just the second Southland team to win 29 games in a season and with one more win would become the league’s first 3-game winner. More notes on SFA’s historic season: Perfect in Conference Play: Stephen F. Austin is one of just three Division I teams to finish the season without a loss in a conference game. Joining the Lumberjacks on the list are Wichita State (18-0 Missouri Valley) and Florida (18-0 Southeastern). The Lumberjacks are 29-2 overall and 18-0 in Southland games. 2003, 2010 5-2 5 UCA Tabs Pennell as Coach: Central Arkansas has named Russ Pennell as its new head men’s basketball coach. Pennell, who played at UCA from 1982-84, was interim coach at Arizona in 2008-09 and head coach at Grand Canyon University from 2009-2013. He most recently coached the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA. Pennell, a native of Pittsburg, Kan., has an extensive background as a collegiate assistant coach, at Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Arizona State and Arizona. Pennell, 53, replaces UCA interim coach Clarence Finley, who stepped in for Corliss Williamson last August when he left to be an assistant coach for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. West Leads All-Defensive Team: Four all-conference selections also appear on the league’s five-member all-defensive team, including Northwestern State sophomore guard Jalan West, UIW junior guard Denzel Livingston, Stephen F. Austin sophomore guard Thomas Walkup and Oral Roberts senior guard/forward Shawn Glover. The other is McNeese State junior guard Kevin Hardy, who, like West, is on the all-defensive squad in each of the two years the team has been selected. 2007 McNeese State 3-2 Seventh Season in Katy: This is the seventh consecutive year for the Southland Conference Tournament to be played in Katy. The 2014 tournament is the 15th in league history to be played at a neutral site. The tournament was played in Shreveport, La., from 1995-2001 and was held in Houston in 2007 before moving to Katy in 2008. 2-6 1-5 .583 Nicholls W-L McNeese State Southeastern Louisiana .000 Oral Roberts 1 Nicholls Katy, Texas Nicholls Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 1998 Shreveport, La. Turnaround at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: It has been quite the year for the Islanders under third-year coach Willis Wilson. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has surprised a lot of people by going 17-14 this year and 14-4 for a second-place finish in the league. The Islanders were just 6-23 overall last season and were 5-13 in the Southland Conference, which was ninth in what was then a 10-team league. The 11-win improvement is the second-best nationally. Combined with the women’s team, which has won 14 more games than last year, Islander basketball teams have a 25-win improvement from a season ago, which is the best turnaround nationally. .571 2 UL-Monroe Northwestern State’s West is Top Defender: A season after earning conference freshman of the year honors, Northwestern State sophomore guard Jalan West was named the Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year, an award in just its second year. The 5-foot-10 sophomore guard from Bossier City, La. (Bossier H.S.), leads the Demons in scoring with 18.9 points per game, which ranks fifth in the Southland. He paces the conference with 6.6 assists and 2.6 steals per game to go with a conference-best 87.7 free-throw aim. In league play, he averaged 7.1 assists per contest. West, who has been heralded by Bleacher Report as one of the nation’s best players under 6-feet tall, is the only Division I player who averages at least 18.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game. West has tied the school record with 76 steals this season and he ranks fifth in the NCAA. He ranks eighth nationally in assists and is one of only two Division I players to rank among the top 10 in both assists and steals. West ranks seventh on the school’s career list in steals with 151 and is on pace to eventually shatter the school record of 264. 1997 Texas State 0-1 Swept Season/Tourney Titles at Neutral Site .556 .545 Sam Houston State has Newcomer of the Year: Sam Houston State junior guard Jabari Peters is the fourth player from Sam Houston State to earn Newcomer of the Year accolades and the first since Gilberto Clavell in 2010. Peters, a junior guard from Brooklyn, N.Y. (Grady H.S.) is a junior college transfer from Seward (Kan.) County Community College and has made an immediate impact in Huntsville. One of five players who started every game for the Bearkats, he led the team in scoring with 12.9 points per game. Peters is tied for fifth in the league with 4.2 assists per game and his 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio is seventh in the Southland. He has scored 20 points or more five times and has scored in double figures in 18 games. He has led the Bearkats in scoring 11 times this season and tallied a season-high 29 points against Prairie View A&M in November. He hit the game-winning 3-pointer against 2013 NCAA tournament team James Madison in December. Peters recorded his second double-double of the season against New Orleans to close the regular season, going for 11 points and season-high 10 assists. Other Bearkats that have been named newcomer of the year include Jejuan Plair in 2006 and Donald Cole in 2002. A&M-Corpus Christi Houston, Texas Sam Houston State The first game on the Islanders’ side of the bracket pits No. 6 seed Oral Roberts and No. 7 seed McNeese State. They meet in the first round Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ORU is back in the tournament for a second time and are looking for their first win in the event. The Golden Eagles are 16-15 overall and finished 10-8 in their final season in the league. McNeese is back in the tournament for a conference-best 27th time. The Cowboys, who have 23 wins in the tournament, are making their fourth consecutive trip and have five wins in their last three appearances, including title-game berths in 2011 and 2012. McNeese is 11-19 overall and 9-9 in the Southland. On a Neutral Court: The Southland Conference has played its postseason tournament on a neutral court every year since 2007. In those seven years, only Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State have participated every year. The two even played for the championship in 2010. Stephen F. Austin has played a league-best 14 games in the tournament since 2007 and leads all programs with eight wins. Sam Houston State is next with seven wins. McNeese State is next with seven wins. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi boasts the best win percentage in its three tournament appearances since 2007. The Islanders are back in the tournament this year, and at 5-2, have a win percentage of .714. Lamar is second at 3-2 (.600) in three appearances, while Sam Houston is third with a .583 win percentage. Northwestern State Twenty-Win Teams: The Southland Conference has three teams with at least 20 wins for the third consecutive season. At 29-2, SFA has recorded 20 wins or more for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. UIW finished 21-6 in its first transition season into Division I. Sam Houston State brings a 21-9 record into the tournament. It is the first 20-win season for the Bearkats since going 25-8 in 2009-10. The winner of the Southeastern-Nicholls game will play No. 4 seed Northwestern State Thursday at 5 p.m. The defending conference champions are in the tournament for a fourth consecutive season and for the 17th time overall. The Demons finished with a 16-13 overall mark and were 12-6 against league opposition. The Southland has not had a repeat champion since former member Louisiana-Monroe won four in a row from 1990-93 though the Demons have been in the title game seven times, including four straight from 2005-08. 3 SFA’s Parker Named Player of the Year: Stephen F. Austin junior Jacob Parker has been named the 2013-14 Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. Parker helped lead the Lumberjacks to their second consecutive Southland regular-season championship and their fourth overall. The forward from Bixby, Okla. (Bixby H.S.), is averaging 14.5 points and 7.1 rebounds to pace SFA. Among the conference leaders, Parker is highly ranked in several statistical categories, including second in free-throw percentage (.870), fifth in offensive rebounds (2.5), seventh in rebounding (7.1), ninth in field goal percentage (.537), 11th in scoring (14.5) and 12th in defensive rebounds (4.5). He has scored in double figures in all but five of the Lumberjacks’ 31 games and scored 20 or more points five times, including a season-high 31 points at Marshall in November. Parker has nine career double-doubles (all this season) and cleared a season-high 13 rebounds against Northwestern State in January. Parker is the fourth Lumberjack to earn the award and is the second consecutive SFA winner. Taylor Smith won the award last season, while Josh Alexander and Matt Kingsley won the award in consecutive seasons in 2008 and 2009. 5 Northwestern State 5-4 2001, 2006, 2013 2009 .600 1996 Tournament Tidbits• This is the 34th Southland Conference tournament.• The regular-season champion has won the tournament 22 times, but in each of the last three tournaments another team has took home the trophy, sending the Southland regular-season champion to the NIT. The last team to win both was Sam Houston State in 2010.• 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 its win in 2012 as the No. 3 seed.• McNeese State is in the Southland tournament for a record 27th time, breaking a tie with former league member Texas-Arlington. • The Cowboys also boast the most tournament wins of any team in the history of the event with 23 after moving ahead of former member Louisiana-Monroe, which had held the record with 21. McNeese has five wins in the last three years thanks to back-to-back title game appearances in 2011 and 2012.• Northwestern State made its seventh all-time appearance in the championship game in 2013. That figure leads the current membership. Lamar is next on the list with six. The record is 10 held by ULM, which has won six tournament championships.• There have been seven championship games featuring two teams from Texas (1986, 1995, 2001, 2002 and 2005) and five finals with teams from Louisiana (1983, 1994, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010).• Oral Roberts and Central Arkansas each made their first appearances in the Southland tournament last year, but each took an early exit, losing its first game. 1995, 1998 Central Arkansas Nicholls Tickets in Katy: Individual-session and all-session tickets tournament are now on sale. 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 available at all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster.com and the Merrell Center box office. Team 0-1 7 1 • Clinched the conference regular-season championship for the second consecutive season.• Is the No. 1 seed in this week’s conference tournament and receive a bye into the semifinals. SFA’s first game will be Friday at 5 p.m., CT on ESPN3.• Has won a Southland record 26 consecutive games with its last lost Nov. 23. It’s current streak ranks second behind Wichita State’s 34-game run.• Has won a league record 23 consecutive conference games dating back to the 2012-13 season.• Has won 33 consecutive home games, dating back to the 2011-12 season. Lumberjacks’ current home streak is tied with Duke for the longest streaks in the nation.• Has won 12 straight road games, which is tied with Wichita State for the Division I leads. SFA won all nine of its Southland road games this season. It’s 14 road wins this season are the most by any Division I team.• Became the first Southland school to win 27 regular-season games in the league’s 51-year history.• With 29 wins, tie the 1984-85 Louisiana Tech Sweet 16 team, led by Karl Malone, which finished 29-3. Last year’s SFA team finished 27-5.• Is 56-7 during the last two seasons. Selection Sunday: The Southland Conference tournament champion will earn the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. The 68-team field for the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship will be unveiled Sunday at 5 p.m., CT on CBS. San Antonio’s AT&T Center will serve as host to one of the eight second- and third-round sites. This year’s Final Four will be held in North Texas at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. In the SFA Bracket: In the SFA half of the bracket are No. 4 seed Northwestern State, No. 5 seed Nicholls and No. 8 seed Southeastern Louisiana. The Colonels and Lions will open the tournament Wednesday at 5 p.m. Southeastern, which is 12-17 overall and 7-11 conference, earned the last spot in the tournament with a 71-62 victory at Lamar on the final day of the regular season. It is the 10th all-time tournament appearance, all in the last 11 years, for the Lions. The Colonels are in the tournament for the sixth straight season and the 14th time overall. Nicholls is 13-14 overall and was 10-8 in league games. No. 3 seed Sam Houston State awaits the winner of the ORU-McNeese game for a second-round game Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The Bearkats return to the tournament for the 12th consecutive year after going 21-9 overall and 13-5 in the Southland. Sam Houston has reached the championship game three times with titles in 2003 and 2010. 1 Look Back at 2013 Championship Game: Northwestern State picked off 10 steals, including a game-clinching swipe by DeQuan Hicks with two seconds left that preserved a 68-66 triumph over regular-season champion Stephen F. Austin in the final game of the 2013 tournament. The contest came down to the final seconds just like the season’s two previous meetings between the Southland stalwarts. Their three games were decided by a total of seven points, with each winning at home, a 61-57 Northwestern victory on Jan. 26, then a 64-63 SFA triumph on March 2. The Demons were on top for the game’s final 19 minutes after the last of 12 lead changes, a Shamir Davis layup 66 seconds into the half that was among 19 points by the tournament’s most outstanding player. The Northwestern lead was as large as nine points, 54-45 with 9:12 left after a transition layup by Brison White. SFA never had the ball with a chance to take the lead until the final possession, which began 94 feet away from the basket with six seconds left after a missed NSU shot bounded out of bounds. Using the full-court pressure that is their trademark, the Demons locked up the victory when an SFA pass just across the half-court line in transition was snagged by Hicks near the top of the free throw circle. He dribbled once and heaved the ball off the NSU backboard as time expired. Tournament Titles Among 2014 Field 1995 Demon Rookie Woodley is Best Frosh: Northwestern State freshman guard Zeek Woodley gives the Demons back-to-back Freshman of the Year winners in the Southland Conference. Overall, the guard from Pelican, La. (All Saints H.S.), is the third Northwestern State player to earn freshman of the year honors. He and West have a lot to do with how the Demons closed the year, with victories in 11 of their last 13 games, rallying the team from a 1-4 league start. Woodley is the top-scoring freshman in the conference, averaging 14.1 points per game overall and 14.4 points in conference action. His 63.2 field-goal percentage leads all Southland players and ranks third nationally. He is also shooting 42.9 percent on 3-pointers and 81.2 percent at the foul line. Woodley’s 14.1 points per game overall is the best scoring average in the league by a freshman since Stephen F. Austin’s Josh Alexander led the Lumberjacks with a 14.2 scoring average while winning the freshman of the year award in 2006. The two are the top scoring averages by league freshmen since former league member Texas-San Antonio’s Devin Brown averaged 16.7 points per game in 1998-99. Woodley, who maintained a 3.2 grade-point average in his first college semester, was a three-time Louisiana Class C MVP in high school. 2010 2007 .714 Title Tilt on SportsRadio 610 in Houston: Marc Vandermeer and John Lopez will team up to provide the local market with the official radio broadcast of Saturday night’s championship game on SportsRadio 610. 2009 Sam Houston State Northwestern State’s West Named Player of the Week: Northwestern State guard Jalan West has been named the Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week after he averaged 22.5 points, 6.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds in helping lead the Demons to a pair of wins last week against Central Arkansas and Oral Roberts. The sophomore from Bossier City, La., scored 26 points on 9-of-10 shooting, including a perfect 6 for 6 from behind the 3-point arc, in a 119-102 victory last Thursday against the Bears. He also had five assists and three steals. Then on Saturday, in an 88-82 victory against the Golden Eagles, he scored 19 points, dished seven assists and added four rebounds. The Demons (16-13 overall, 12-6 Southland) will be the No. 4 seed in this week’s Southland Conference tournament. ESPN3 to Carry Southland Semis: The semifinals featuring the Southland’s top two seeds – Stephen F. Austin and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi – will be available solely on ESPN3 Friday night. The Lumberjacks await their foe in a 5 p.m., CT, tipoff and the Islanders will follow at 7:30 p.m. Lincoln Rose will call the action and be joined courtside by Jim Haller as the color analyst. .000 Stephen F. Austin Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Shreveport, La. .250 Lumberjacks First-Year Mentor Tabbed Coach of the Year: Stephen F. Austin took home its second consecutive coach of the year award. Brad Underwood, who joined the Lumberjacks after a long career as an assistant coach, most recently at South Carolina, and previously at Kansas State under Frank Martin and Bob Huggins, is making a name for himself in his first season as a head coach. The Lumberjacks carry a 29-2 record into this week’s conference tournament and have a chance to become the first Southland team to win 30 games. The record ranks in the top-10 all-time starts by a first-year head coach in NCAA history. Underwood’s squad became the first in the Southland to navigate a perfect 18-game schedule and is the first undefeated league champion since Arkansas State in 1967. No team in the league’s 51-year history had gone undefeated in more than an eight-game schedule.