A&M-Commerce (11-1, 0-0 LSC) vs Midwestern State (8-4, 0-0 LSC)
The Lions closed out the 2013 calendar year with some fireworks in the form of a 15-point comeback win over Henderson State on Dec. 18, giving A&M-Commerce an 11-1 start to the season. That start is the best for the program since the 1996-97 team started the season 14-1 on its way to the NCAA South Regional.
This will be the 81st time the Lions have faced the Mustangs on the hardwood, with Midwestern holding a 48-32 edge in the all-time series and winning 12 of the last 13 meetings.
THE LAST TIME OUT
Tyrie Wooten's three-point play with just 1.3 seconds remaining capped a furious A&M-Commerce comeback that saw the Lions erase a 15-point second-half deficit and pull out a 71-68 win over Henderson State on Dec. 18 at The Field House.
The win was the second of the season for the Lions over the Reddies this season, both coming in the final seconds for A&M-Commerce. The Lions trailed by as much as 15 points with 13:42 remaining in the second half after trailing 38-29 at intermission; however, the Lions finished the game on a 19-2 run, holding the Reddies without a field goal for the final 7:43 of the game.
A&M-Commerce will stay at home, continuing Lone Star Conference play on Jan. 8 with a matchup vs Texas A&M-Kingsville at The Field House before embarking on a long three-game road trip that includes games at Angelo State, Cameron and Eastern New Mexico.
TEAM QUICK HITS
The Lions got off to an 8-0 start to the season, the second best start to a season for A&M-Commerce in program history. Currently the squad stands at 11-1 on the year, which is the best start through 12 games for the team under head coach Sam Walker, and is the best overall since the 1996-97 team began the season 24-8.
A&M-Commerce is 6-7 in conference openers under Sam Walker, and 8-5 in its first LSC game of the season at home.
Halftime deficits have not been an issue for A&M-Commerce this season. The Lions have found themselves down at the break of six of its 12 games, coming back to win in five of those games. It's largest deficit over come of the season was a 15-point margin in its 71-68 win over Henderson State.
Series vs. MIDWESTERN STATE: MSU leads, 48-32
Last 5 Meetings
2012-13 vs Midwestern State L 92-84
2012-13 at Midwestern State L 85-67
2012-13 MIDWESTERN STATE W 74-66
2011-12 vs Midwesetern State L 64-52
2011-12 at Midwestern State L 69-50
The No. 1 seeded Midwestern State pulled away from A&M-Commerce in the second half to eliminate the Lions in the first round of the LSC Tournament. Despite 19 points from Preston Whitley and 18 from Andrew Davis, the Lions could not overcome a 33-point effort from the Mustangs' Kevin Grayer, who finished 11-for-16 from the floor. A&M-Commerce nailed 10 three-point buckets, but were hindered by 17 turnovers, while getting outscored 20-8 in points off turnovers and 32-18 in the paint.
The Lions have not fared well against the Mustangs recently, winning just twice in the last 15 meetings since the 2004-05 season. That includes a 74-66 win last season in the team's first meeting, a win that snapped a 10-game losing skid for the Lions to the Mustangs dating back to the 2005-06 season. The Lions are just 5-17 vs Midwestern State in the Sam Walker era.
Wall Of Macauley: In addition to his 9.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, A&M-Commerce big man Christian Macauley has been stellar as the Lions' last line of defense. The junior from Washington D.C. leads the Lone Star Conference with 2.8 blocks per game after adding three more to his season total against Henderson State. He has at least one block in every game this season for the Lions, with multiple blocks in eight of A&M-Commerce's 12 games to date. Lee Johnson holds the single-season school record with 84 blocks (2.8 bpg), set in 1978-79.
WALKER ADDS TO WIN TOTAL: Head coach Sam Walker became the all-time winningest coach in A&M-Commerce history last season with his 202nd victory, pushing him past former Lion head coach Jim Grudger, and in two less seasons. He now continues to distance himself from the other 19 coaches in Lion history with 217 victories to his credit.
CALLING LONG DISTANCE: The Lions have not been afraid to step out and let it fly from beyond the arc this season with its 273 three-point tries being 45 more than any other team in the LSC. Still, they have managed to be efficient with them too, hitting at a cool 36.3 percent from three-point range, a mark that ranks fourth in the league. A&M-Commerce has made at least 10 threes in six games this year with a season-high 12 in a six-point win over Southern Arkansas on November 13. In all, four Lions with at least 30 three-point tries are hitting better than 37 percent of those shots, led by LaDon Carnegie's 48.3 percent.
NO CARNEGIE, NO PROBLEM: Despite not having leading scorer LaDon Carnegie in its past two games, the Lions have still managed to put up a pair of victories over Dallas Baptist and Henderson State. Without him the Lions scored just 81.5 points in their two wins after averaging 88.7 in their first 10 games; however, they have seen increased production from several players, including senior guard Tyrie Wooten, who has upped his game to the tune of 15.5 points per game on 41.4 percent shooting in those two victories, including the game-winner against Henderson State.
ACCEPTING CHARITY: The Lions may be putting up more long-distance jumpers than any other team in the Lone Star Conference, but they are still doing their fare share of getting to the foul line. In fact, A&M-Commerce has shot more free throws than its opponent in all but one game, and that game saw both the Lions and Southern Arkansas shoot 34 apiece. In all, the Lions are averaging 27 foul shots per game, and rank third in the league with a 72.7 free-throw percentage as a team.
BETTER AS THEY GO: A&M-Commerce has managed to overcome five of six halftime deficits this season for victories, and when you look at the numbers, it is no surprise. The Lions are averaging 49.9 points in the second half of games this year, compared to just 37.6 points in the opening 20 minutes. Looking closer, both A&M-Commerce's overall field-goal percentage and three-point percentage goes down in the second period; however, the Lions are getting to the foul line more, hitting 73 of just 100 foul shots in the first half this season compared to 164 of 226 in the second half.