Posted on: March 5, 2012 10:04 am
Edited on: March 5, 2012 12:52 pm

What-to-know conference previews: Southland

Texas-Arlington went into the weekend’s season finale gunning to finish the Southland’s regular season unbeaten, but Texas-San Antonio had other plans, handing UTA its first loss of the campaign. Will that open the door in the tournament, or is UTA still the favorite?

Texas-Arlington has lost just two games since December 20, road games at Weber State and Texas-San Antonio. The Mavericks love to play up-tempo basketball, forcing turnovers at a very high rate and playing an aggressive brand of attacking basketball. They are long and quick, with multiple offensive options. LaMarcus Reed can fill it up from the perimeter, while Bo Ingram and Kevin Butler also need to be stopped.

Stephen F. Austin won its last five games to end the season, and is the perfect foil to Texas-Arlington. The Lumberjacks control the tempo, preferring a halfcourt game and a slow pace. They play some of the best defense in the league, dominating the glass and contesting everything inside the arc. Big man Jereal Scott is difficult to handle in the paint.

LaMarcus Reed and UT-Arlington have lost just twice since mid-December. (US Presswire)

Lamar has one of the best trios in the conference, with Mike James, Anthony Miles and Devon Lamb leading the way. Offensively, the Cardinals are explosive, but when the perimeter players go cold, they are in trouble. Their ceiling is high, though. Despite having the league’s best scorer, McNeese State has lost four in a row.

A team to watch could be Texas-San Antonio, the only team to beat UT-Arlington this season. The Roadrunners play a 1-1-3 trapping zone for 40 minutes, which is difficult for the faster teams to play against. They also shoot nearly 40 percent from 3-point range, and have plenty of size and scorers.

With only eight teams making the tournament, it’s going to be ultra-competitive. Can UT-Arlington survive?



Title game: Saturday, March 10 on ESPN2 (3:00 p.m., ET)


  1. Patrick Richard, McNeese State
  2. William Mosley, Northwestern State
  3. LaMarcus Reed III, UT-Arlington
  4. Mike James, Lamar
  5. Jereal Scott, Stephen F. Austin

Conference RPI: 28

KenPom.com rating: 28

Sagarin rating: 27

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances

  • Lamar Cardinals: 2000, No. 16 seed, lost to Duke 82-55 in the first round.
  • McNeese State Cowboys: 2002, No. 14 seed, lost to Mississippi State 70-58 in the first round.
  • Nicholls State Colonels: 1998, No. 16 seed, lost to Arizona 99-60 in the first round.
  • Northwestern State Demons: 2006, No. 14 seed, beat Iowa 64-63 in the first round, followed by a 67-54 loss to West Virginia in the second round.
  • Sam Houston State Bearkats: 2010, No. 14 seed, lost to Baylor 68-59 in the first round.
  • Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks: 2009, No. 14 seed, lost to Syracuse 59-44 in the first round.
  • Texas-Arlington Mavericks: 2008, No. 16 seed, lost to Memphis 87-63 in the first round.
  • Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners: 2011, No. 16 seed, beat Alabama State 70-61 in the opening round, followed by a 75-46 loss to Ohio State in the first round.

- Jeff Borzello

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 13, 2011 3:01 am
Edited on: March 13, 2011 3:03 am

Welcome to the Dance, UTSA Roadrunners

The Southland final pitted a No. 1 seed and No. 7 seed against each other, but it wasn’t a mismatch on paper. When the game was played, it certainly was not a mismatch, as lower-seeded Texas-San Antonio knocked off McNeese State, 75-72, to win the conference championship and get a bid to the NCAA tournament. Devin Gibson finally slowed down his triple-double ways, but Jeromie Hill stepped up with 25 points.

Texas-San Antonio is heading to its fourth NCAA tournament, with the last two coming as a No. 16 seed. The Roadrunners are likely to enter the Big Dance as a No. 16 seed once again, despite winning their last five games. They had an up-and-down conference campaign, but were on the wrong side of a very close Southland race and were relegated to the seventh seed.

Player to know: Devin Gibson. Gibson is one of the best all-around players in college basketball. He is capable of impacting a game at both ends of the floor, as evidenced by his two triple-doubles this season and the fact he averaged nearly three steals per game during his four-year career. Gibson is playing some of his best basketball right now, averaging 23 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in the conference tournament.

The Vitals:

  • Record: 19-13, 9-7 Southland
  • Team colors: Navy Blue, Orange and White
  • We’re thinking: 16-seed.
  • KenPom ranking: 219
  • RPI: 205
  • Best win: San Jose State (17-15)
  • Worst loss: Samford (12-19)
  • Notable stat: Devin Gibson is tied with Tu Holloway of Xavier for the most triple-doubles in the country, with two.
  • Most recent tournament history: 2004. Entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 16 seed, lost to Stanford in the first round.

Photo: AP

Posted by Jeff Borzello

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: March 12, 2011 3:01 am

Southland championship game preview

The Southland title game is deceiving. On the surface, No. 7 seed Texas-San Antonio would seem like a fairly big underdog to regular-season champion and top seed McNeese State. In what was the tightest conference race in the country, though, UTSA actually finished only two games behind McNeese during the regular season. The lower-seeded Roadrunners actually beat the champs in the lone meeting between the two.

McNeese State (21-10, 11-5) had the most consistent regular season of any team in the conference, finishing by winning four of its final five games to get the outright title. The Cowboys have not dominated their opponents in the tournament, beating Anatoly Bose and Nicholls State in a slow-down, 61-54 win and then knocking off Texas State in an up-and-down, 91-83 affair. McNeese State would prefer something in between those tempos.

The Cowboys take care of the ball offensively and can hurt defenses in a variety of ways. They get to the foul line as well as anyone in the conference and can get hot from behind the arc. Five players average at least 9.6 points per game, with Patrick Richard leading the way. Richard has notched double-figures in 19 straight games. Diego Kapelan is a gunner, while Stephan Martin has been inconsistent of late. P.J. Alawoya gets double-doubles down low.

Texas-San Antonio (18-13, 9-7) has won four in a row heading into Saturday’s championship game. The Roadrunners needed heroics in the opener of the conference tournament, as Jerome Hill dunked the game-winning basket with two seconds left to beat No. 2 Northwestern State, 97-76. They then forced Sam Houston State into an eye-popping 28 missed 3-pointers in the semifinals to advance over the Bearkats.

The Roadrunners go as far as star guard Devin Gibson carries them. Gibson has been at his peak in the conference tournament, racking up a triple-double in the quarterfinals and averaging 27.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 2.5 steals in two games. He can change a game at both ends of the floor. Backcourt mate Melvin Johnson III has been playing well lately, providing an outside threat, while freshman Jerome Hill bangs down low. UTSA loves shooting fro deep and getting to the free-throw line.

This should be highly-entertaining battle between two teams who like to drive aggressively to the basket and fire away from 3-point range on a consistent basis. The key for McNeese State will obviously be limiting Devin Gibson’s impact on the game. He is playing the best basketball of his career right now, and can carry UTSA to an automatic bid. On the other side, UTSA can’t allow McNeese State to get hot from deep. The Cowboys can then keep the defense on its heels with penetration and playmaking.

Texas-San Antonio is on roll right now, and Gibson is the type of player who can single-handedly bring the Roadrunners into the Big Dance. If McNeese State is to stop him, it will need to play disciplined at that end of the floor and avoid fouling. Meanwhile, McNeese State might have too many offensive options for UTSA. Something has to give.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Jeff Borzello

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: March 7, 2011 3:35 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 3:36 pm

Southland Conference tournament preview

The Southland Conference race came down to the final day, as McNeese State (19-10, 11-5) and Texas State (15-15, 10-6) went into the last weekend tied for first, but only one game ahead of three other teams. As a matter of fact, the top four teams in the conference lost in the next-to-last game of the season, which could be a precursor for what to expect in the conference tournament. When the dust settled, McNeese State won the outright title, going 11-5 in the league.

Northwestern State (18-13, 10-6) finished one game behind McNeese, losing three of its final six to fall too far behind. Southeastern Louisiana (15-13, 9-7) and Nicholls State (14-13, 8-8) also reached the conference tournament. In the West division, Sam Houston State (17-12, 10-6) and Texas State split the title, as SHS won eight of its last 10 and Texas State dropped its final two regular-season contests. Stephen F. Austin (18-10, 9-7) and Texas-San Antonio (16-13, 9-7) finished one game behind the two co-champs. The conference tournament only invites eight teams, meaning we could be in store for an extremely competitive three days.

Despite finishing just one game ahead of three other teams, McNeese State comes into the conference tournament as the favorite. The Cowboys won eight of their final 11 games to win the title. Offensively, they take care of the ball and attack the rim. On the defensive side, they defend the arc very effectively. McNeese has four double-figure scorers, led by the forward duo of Patrick Richard and double-double machine P.J. Alawoya. Diego Kapelan and Stephan Martin provide perimeter production. Kapelan is averaging 17.8 points in his last eight games.

There is no shortage of contenders for the automatic bid. Sam Houston State is arguably the hottest team in the league, using its prowess around the rim to control the glass and score in the paint. Gilberto Clavell has 15 20-point games this season. Texas State plays at one of the fastest tempos in the country, getting up and down the floor at a rapid rate. The Bobcats are deep and balanced, although Cameron Johnson and Tony Bishop are the two go-to-guys. Northwestern State is another up-tempo team, forcing turnovers and getting to the free-throw line. Will Pratt and Devon Baker can fill it up.

In terms of sleepers, look out for Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks play a half-court style, meaning they can cause problems for the up-tempo outfits. They are a lockdown defensive unit, forcing turnovers, controlling the glass and creating difficult shots. Nicholls State (Anatoly Bose) and Texas-San Antonio (Devin Gibson) can go as far as their studs carry them.

Southland Conference Tournament Bracket

Top Three Players:

1. Anatoly Bose, Nicholls State
2. Devin Gibson, Texas-San Antonio
3. Gilberto Clavell, Sam Houston State

  • Conference RPI: 29
  • KenPom.com Conference Ranking: 29
  • Sagarin Conference Ranking: 29
NCAA Tournament Locks: None
NCAA Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance

  • McNeese State: 2002 (lost to Mississippi State, first round)
  • Nicholls State: 1998 (lost to Arizona, first round)
  • Northwestern State: 2006 (lost to West Virginia, second round)
  • Sam Houston State: 2010 (lost to Baylor, first round)
  • Southeastern Louisiana: 2005 (lost to Oklahoma State, first round)
  • Stephen F. Austin: 2009 (lost to Syracuse, first round)
  • Texas-San Antonio: 2004 (lost to Stanford, first round)
  • Texas State: 1997 (lost to Minnesota, first round)

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Jeff Borzello

More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Tags: LAND, Southland
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com