MBB game notes: LSC tournament (Round 1)

Mar 6, 2014

No. 4 A&M-Commerce (19-8, 6-7 LSC) vs No. 5 Eastern New Mexico (14-10, 7-7 LSC)
Thursday, March 6, 2014 • 8:30 p.m. • LSC Tournament First Round 
Allen Event Center (6,225) • Allen, Texas 


• The Lions will enter this week's Lone Star Conference Tournament one of the hottest teams in the league, having reeled off four straight wins to close out the regular season after its victory on Saturday over No. 2 Tarleton State.

• A&M-Commerce will enter the event as the No. 4 seed, and will be taking on No. 5 Eastern New Mexico for just the second time ever in the LSC Tournament. The Lions will also be looking to advance past the first round for the first time since 2007-08, having dropped their past five opening-round contests.

• The A&M-Commerce Lions hit seven foul shots in the final 90 seconds of the game, and held on to upset No. 2 ranked Tarleton State, 79-76, on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 1,645 at The Field House. The win gives the Lions its first four-game win streak to close out the regular season since the 2004-05 campaign, and snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Texans. LaDon Carnegie was the go-to hand for A&M-Commerce throughout the night, going for 34 points and nine rebounds on the night. The junior hit 10 of his 17 field goal tries, and 10 of 12 from the foul line, including four of the Lions' 10 three-point buckets on the night.

• Should the Lions knock off Eastern New Mexico in the opening round, they would play the winner of the quarterfinal between No. 1 Tarleton State and No. 8 West Texas A&M at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 7.

• With its win on Saturday over Tarleton State, the Lions snapped an eight-game losing streak to the  Texans, and gave the Lions its first win streak of at least four games to close out a regular season since 2004-05 season.

• A&M-Commerce is hitting 74.6 percent of its foul shots this season, leading the league in free throw percentage, ranking second only to Tarleton State in free throws attempted (740) and free throws made (552). Better than 26 percent of the Lions' points this year have come from the free throw stripe, the highest in the LSC.

•The Lions earned four all-LSC on Tuesday, including a pair of league superlatives with Christian Macauley's selection for Defensive Player of the Year and De'Andre Carson's nod for Freshman of the Year. It is just the second time the Lions have earned two league superlatives in the same season, the last coming in 2004-05 when Jemart Miller was named both the leaue's Player and Newcomer of the Year.

Series vs. ENMU: A&M-Commerce leads 39-19
Last 5 Meetings
2013-14    EASTERN NEW MEXICO        W    78-71
2013-14    at Eastern New Mexico             L     83-78
2012-13    at Eastern New Mexico             L     84-77
2012-13    EASTERN NEW MEXICO         W   84-77
2011-12    at Eastern New Mexico             W   67-62 (OT)                        

The A&M-Commerce Lions overcame a sluggish start and never trailed in the second half, evening the season series with Eastern New Mexico with a 78-71 win over the Greyhounds Wednesday at The Field House. The Lions picked up consecutive wins in conference play for the first time this season, and head into the regular season's final two games just a game back of third place in the LSC. Devondrick Walker led the Lions in scoring for the fourth time in the last five games with 20 points and was tied with Kameron Price with a game-high four assists. De'Andre Carson found his way into double figures for the second straight game, hitting a pair of threes and 7-for-8 from the foul line for 15 points, and LaDon Carnegie added a dozen.  
The Lions avoided its first three-game losing streak to the Greyhounds since the 2004-05 season with a 78-71 win on Jan. 19 in Commece, and now own a 39-19 advantage in the all-time series. Thursday will mark just the second time the teams have met in the postseason, with the Lions owning a 67-64 win over ENMU in the first round of the 1994 Lone Star Conference Tournament. 

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: The Lions are 24-31 all-time in the LSC Tournament, and will be making their 10th straight and  overall 35th appearance in the event, the most in league history. A&M-Commerce has three previous tournament titles, but will be searching for its first since the 1997 season when they left Edmond, Okla., with an 89-85 win over Central Oklahoma in the final. The Lions are 14-20 in first-round games, but have dropped their last five, not advancing out of the first round since the 2008 tournament.

REGIONAL RANKINGS: The latest South Central Regional rankings came out on Feb. 26 with A&M-Commerce ranked ninth among teams from the Lone Star, Rocky Mountain and Heartland conferences heading in to next week's LSC Tournament. A top-8 finish in the region would assure the Lions a trip to the regional tournament for the first time since the 2004-05 season.  

LION ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS: The Lions racked up on LSC postseason awards on Tuesday, capturing a pari of superlatives and two all-LSC choices. LaDon Carnegie became the 64th first team all-LSC selection with his nod, while Devondrick Walker was a second team choice. Sophomore Christian Macauley was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year, the fourth overall and first for the Lions since Stacy Lamb in the 1997-98 season. De'Andre Carson was also named the league's Freshman of the Year, making him the seventh Lion to earn the honor and the first since Preston Whitley in 2009-10. 

HOW TO GET TO CARNEGIE HALL: LaDon Carnegie put together the offensive performance of the season for the Lions vs Tarleton State, going for 34 points in the win over the Texans. It was the most by a Lion since Desmond King's 34 points vs Abilene Christian on Jan. 11, 2012 and the second most by any player in the Lone Star Conference this year. His effort was enough to earn him the LSC Offensive Player of the Week nod on Monday, the first time a Lion has pulled that in this season, and just the second time a weekly honor as gone A&M-Commerce's way with Christian Macauley having won the defensive honor on Dec. 2. 

WHO NEEDS FIELD GOALS?: It's not very often a team finds a way to win when going without a field goal for the game's final five minutes, but the Lions did just that on Saturday vs Tarleton State. After a jumper from Daniel Ehambe with 4:59 to go tied the game at 68-68, the Lions did not hit a shot from the field the rest of the way. Instead, they did their damage from the foul line, hitting 9-of-10 from the stripe as a team after hitting just 10-of-17 prior to that.

WOOTEN STAYS CLUTCH: Tyrie Wooten's go-ahead free throws with just 32 seconds remaining in the Lions' upset of No. 2 Tarleton State were not out of the ordinary. In fact, Wooten hit the go-ahead shots in the game's final minute just one game before in an 83-82 win at West Texas A&M. Wooten has been exceptional in clutch situations such as those, hitting 20 of 21 foul shots in the final five minutes of LSC games this season.

SCORING WITH THE BEST: Points have not been hard to come by this season for the Lions, ranking second in the Lone Star Conference with an 81.9 per-game average. To date, that is tied for the highest-scoring team head coach Sam Walker has ever had, right with his 2006-07 team who averaged 81.9 points per contest. The mark is also the highest by any Lion team since 1996-97 when the Lions averaged 83.2 points per game under former head coach Paul Peak.

DEVONDRICK NEARING ELITE COMPANY: Devondrick Walker has stepped up his game in LSC play in his senior season, hitting for double figures in 15 of the Lions' last 18 games, and is averaging 16.4 points per game in league contests, good for fourth in the LSC. He is also currently 61 of 67 (91.0)  from the foul stripe this year, but needs to average 2.5 makes per game to qualify for the national leaderboard. He is currently averaging just 2.34 makes per game, and needs at least seven made freebies on Thursday to find his name on the leaderboard. Mike Micarelli currently holds the single-season free throw percentage mark at A&M-Commerce of 93.5 percent set in 1983-84.

20-VISION: Should the Lions pick up two more wins this season, it would push them to the 20-win plateau for the first time since the 2004-05 season and be the 16th 20-win campaign in the historyof the program.

WALL OF MACAULEY: In addition to his 9.5 points and 7.4 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  and ranks seventh nationally with 2.7 blocks per game after rejecting nine shots in his last two games vs Cameron and Midwestern State. He has at least one block in every game this season for the Lions, with multiple blocks in 20 of A&M-Commerce's 25 games to date. Lee Johnson holds the single-season school record with 84 blocks (2.8 bpg), set in 1978-79.