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: February 1, 2012 10:33 am

Southland's UT Arlington with monster game tonite

By Jeff Goodman

Baylor goes to College Station tonight and plays Texas A&M. UConn travels to Georgetown and Indiana will play Michigan in Ann Arbor. 

But the Game of the Night will be played in the brand-new College Park Center when UT San Antonio faces UT Arlington tonight. Ok, maybe I'm getting a little carried away. But this is a huge matchup by Southland Conference standards. 

UT Arlington is 15-5 overall, flawless in league play at 7-0 and carrying a school-record 11-game winning streak into the contest. Brooks Thompson's UTSA squad comes in with a 14-7 overall mark and a game back in conference play at 6-1. 

Not a bad night to open up the 7,000-seat, $78 million facility.  

"It should be a great atmosphere. It's been sold out for a while now," UT Arlington coach Scott Cross said. "I think it's the nicest facility I've ever stepped foot in." 

Scott was optimistic about his team entering the season, but one of the primary reasons was due to the addition of junior college point guard Jorge Redmon. Well, Redmon is no longer on the team due to academics, but Cross said that sophomore Shaquille White-Miller has been terrific in running the club. 

"He mirrors my personality," Cross said. "He's a pit bull who makes enough shots, has a high number of assists and is a bulldog on defense." 

Bo Ingram (11.7) and Kevin Butler (10.6 ppg) both average in double-figures and junior big man Jordan Reves (8.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg) has made strides to become of the Southland's top big men, but the primary reason for the Mavericks success is senior guard LaMarcus Reed III, who is averaging 16.1 points and has made big shot after big shot for Cross. 

"We used to lose all the close games last year," Cross said. "But now anytime the game's on the line, he wants the ball. He's begging for it. You can see it in his eyes." 

Cross said his team had UTSA down double-digits last season, but was unable to close out the victory. In the offseason, he made it one of his primary focuses to prepare against UTSA's stellar zone defense that is similar to the one Baylor's Scott Drew utilizes. 

"We've worked on it plenty," Cross said. "They are really good at it." 

Cross admitted Wednesday night's contest may be the second most important game in his tenure next to the league championship game in 2008 that gave the Mavericks their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.A victory would give the Mavericks a two-game advantage in the standings over UTSA -- and could put UT Arlington in position to win the league in its final year in the Southland. 

UTA, UTSA and Texas State will all head to the WAC next season while Oral Roberts and Houston Baptist will enter the league. 

Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:31 am
Edited on: December 21, 2011 12:32 am

Night Court: C.J. Leslie beats the buzzer

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Kenpom.com anointed North Carolina State vs. St. Bonaventure as the game of the day prior to Tuesday – and he certainly wasn’t wrong. It was a back and forth game throughout, but it looked like it was heading to overtime once Eric Mosley tied it up at 65 with 3.1 seconds left. Then C.J. Williams launched a full-length pass to C.J. Leslie, who somehow got a shot off to win the game for the Wolfpack. Check the really high-quality video above.

Win to brag about: Northern Iowa was 6-0 on its homecourt heading into Tuesday, but Ohio went into Cedar Falls and came out with a 17-point win. The Bobcats shot 52 percent from the field, 52 percent from 3-point range and stifled Northern Iowa on the defensive end. Ivo Baltic went for 22 points in the win for Ohio, which is now 10-1.

Loss to hide from: There weren’t any truly bad losses on Tuesday, but Stephen F. Austin dropping one to Prairie View A&M tops the list. Prairie View didn’t have a Division-I win all season and had won just two games away from home in the last season and a half. Stephen F. Austin expected to contend in the Southland this season, but going 0-for-8 from 3-point range en route to a 53-50 loss isn’t going to do it.

Player who deserves improper benefits: Richmond’s Darien Brothers scored 38 points to lead the Spiders to a 90-82 overtime win against Old Dominion. Brothers jumpstarted the extra period with a four-point play to give Richmond a lead it would never relinquish. Overall, he had 19 points in the last 11 minutes of regulation and overtime. 

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: Coming off Butler’s win against Purdue over the weekend, we expected the Bulldogs to show better against Gonzaga. Instead, they got behind early and fell, 71-55. Three of Butler’s top four scorers – Andrew Smith, Chase Stigall and Chrishawn Hopkins – combined to shoot 3-for-21 for a grand total of seven points.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 358: Towson lost to Manhattan on Tuesday night. The Tigers have now gone 358 days without a win.
  • November 16: Prior to its win over UNC-Asheville, Tennessee hadn’t defeated a Division-I team in over a month.
  • 11-1: After its win over St. Francis (Pa.), Pittsburgh has now started 11-1 in 11 of the last 12 seasons. The PA announcer in that game had to call out an update after every basket due to a scoreboard malfunction.

Three other notable results:

  1. Charleston looked poised to pull the upset over Louisville, but a quick 8-0 run in 70 seconds gave the Cardinals a seven-point lead with two minutes left. Louisville held on, 69-62.
  2. Doron Lamb shot 8-for-12 from the field to lead Kentucky to an 82-50 win over Samford.
  3. Syracuse stayed undefeated with an 80-61 victory over Patriot favorite Bucknell.


  • Jared Sullinger returned from a foot injury to play 30 minutes against Lamar. He scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 70-50 win.
  • New Mexico’s game against Montana State was delayed 30 minutes by a fire alarm before tipoff. Per the AP, it was the third time in the last two seasons New Mexico has had a game delayed.
  • BYU bounced back from an early deficit to beat Buffalo, 93-78.
  • North Texas freshman Tony Mitchell is averaging 12.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in his first two games since becoming eligible.
  • Solomon Hill had 23 points and 11 rebounds to help Arizona get an 85-73 win over Oakland.

On tap: There are several good games to check out on Wednesday. The best game of the night should be Texas taking on North Carolina, with Myck Kabongo going head-to-head with Kendall Marshall. Seton Hall also faces Dayton, and Alabama looks to bounce back against Oklahoma State. A couple of teams with gaudy records battle in DePaul and Cal Poly, and Parrish will be at Mississippi vs. Middle Tennessee State.

Photo: US Presswire
Video: YouTube

Posted on: October 19, 2011 9:55 am
Edited on: October 19, 2011 9:58 am

Bob Knight commits secondary recruiting violation

By Matt Norlander

Just because you're long out of the coaching game doesn't mean you can't commit an NCAA violation.

It's looking like Bob Knight talked to a couple of recruits on the phone, and since those recruits have verbally agreed to play at Lamar, where son Pat Knight coaches, then an NCAA violation did indeed take place. Only basketball staff members, with a few exceptions, can speak with recruits about joining any sports program. Even though Bob Knight is Pat's father, he's considered a person of influence; it's why universities do their best to get famous alums around the schools as frequently as possible. Those notable alums can't speak directly to recruits, but their presence can have an influence.

It must be noted Knight had a near-flawless record with the NCAA during his coaching career. His Hall of Fame tenure at Indiana revolved around winning a ton of games (and three national titles), graduating his players and not breaking the rules. The fact this likely secondary violation has occurred drips with irony.

From the Indianapolis Star:
Regarding his conversation with Bob Knight, Minton said, “He told me that he thought I’ d be a good fit for the program and said he hoped he’d see me at Lamar.” The Beaumont Enterprise reported last week that the players “attended the Lamar football game Saturday and talked by phone with Bob Knight.”

NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said he couldn’t comment specifically on the Lamar situation because he didn’t know the details. He added, however, “Generally speaking, telephone calls to prospects can only be made by coaching staff members or those listed in the exceptions.” The exceptions include the university president and academic advisors.
Lamar is reported to be dealing with the situation internally right now, and it's likely they'll self-report and receive a slap on the wrist. Pat Knight, who's about as different from his dad as you could expect, didn't hide from the issue. In fact, in the following  135 words, he sounds a lot like Pop.

“It was a quick hello on the phone and that was it,” he told the Star. “We recruited the heck out of the kids. He had nothing to do with that. I mean, he just was excited we were recruiting Indiana again and wanted to say hello to them and that was it.”

Pat Knight added, “At least I’m not paying them. The NCAA should look into guys that are paying players and not worry about guys that are doing it the right way. ... I don’t care if my dad is a celebrity or not. I think it’s (expletive), honestly. The guy is my dad. If he wants to say hello to a recruit, he can. If we get reprimanded, fine. They need to check into guys that are outright cheating instead of nickel-dime stuff like that.”

And ... scene. Thank you, Pat Knight.

Photo: AP
Posted on: September 14, 2011 2:46 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 2:52 pm

Trippin': Texas-San Antonio finds the Barrier

In our Trippin’ series, we’re talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Click here for all Trippin’ related stories.

By Matt Norlander

Of all the coaches I’ve talked to during my required allotment of the Trippin’ series, Texas-San Antonio’s Brooks Thompson was the most pragmatic. His team went 3-2, but he wasn’t too high or low. He examined, took note of what he saw, but ultimately viewed his team’s trip to Australia as an important life experience far beyond any implications having to do with basketball.

This is a team that made the NCAA tournament last year and won during the first-round festivities in Dayton, overcoming Alabama State before falling to Ohio State. Thompson is confident about his team, but sometimes a trip’s just a trip.

The team chose to go to Australia because Thompson has two Aussies—stud sophomore Jeremy Hill and fellow second-year player Igor Nujic—and fully plans on creating a pipeline there, much like what Randy Bennett’s done at Saint Mary’s, to name one of a few schools already implementing the strategy.

Thompson, a sixth-year coach, said his best memory from the mid-August excursion was taking a boat out to the Great Barrier Reef, where they saw, snorkeled and swam for a few hours.

“Usually young guys don’t understand how fortunate they are to be in a place like that, but our guys soaked it in and really enjoyed being out there,” Thompson said. “As a head coach, that was the best thing to see. … The water changes color four times when you’re out there.  When we talked docked it was amazing to see. It was just like … wow.”

What Thompson learned: “That we’re not tough enough, and I say that in a joking way. I watched them learned and bond and grow together. It was a little too casual from a coach’s perspective, because we were out there and weren’t playing real hard. It wasn’t like coaching in the conference tournament or anything.”

What impressed him: “One of our newcomers, Kannon Burrage, just because he hadn’t been in a part of our program until now. He did a great job over there and we got a chance to evaluate him. On the other side of that, Stephen Franklin, who is a senior and came into his leadership role.”

What concerned him: “We didn’t guard the way that I wanted to. And that’s what I’m talking about with the casualness. But nothing bothered me, to be honest with you. ... I think we can really score the ball and have a lot of options offensively. Defensively, we have some weaknesses that we have to correct."

-- Thompson likes his team’s experience. This is a group with five seniors that only struggled in two areas last year: offensive rebounding and blocking shots. It’s a bigger team this season. “I think we have great experience, but we’re obviously going to miss Devin Gibson (point guard).” Gibson had a higher offensive rating (107.8) than anyone on the team. Michael Hale III, a junior, is the new point guard.

-- Liked this quote from Thompson: “All coaches can say what they want, from a paper standpoint I think we’re going to be stronger, and our league will be good.”

-- If he had to put a starting five on the floor tonight, Hale III, Melvin Johnson III, Sei Paye, Franklin and Jeremie Hill would get the start. Hill is a 6-8 sophomore.

-- Had returning starter Larry Wilkins not injured himself recently, he’d get the go. Thompson didn’t go on the record with Wilson’s injury, nor say when he expects him to be back.

Photo via UTSA athletics

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