The Wildcats travel to Corpus Christi to face one of the elite teams the Southland Conference has to offer. The Islanders rank second in the conference at 11-3 and are one of two teams with 20 wins on the season. ACU, after handling business at home against Southeastern Louisiana, 91-80, is 7-7 in league play and 12-15 overall.
ACU, who is still learning how to win on the road (2-11), will need to play perhaps their cleanest and most efficient game of the season to get the win in their last road game of the 2015-2016 season.
Head coach Joe Golding’s squad comes off one of their best offensive showings of the season. The 91 points are the highest by the Wildcats during Southland play as five players found their way into double-digit scoring. Seniors Austin Cooke (14), Jalen Little (12) and Duran Porter (10) led the way for the Wildcats in scoring. Freshman guard Jaylen Franklin, who leads ACU at 15.8 points per game which ranks sixth in the conference, added 15 points while converting 11-14 free throw attempts, normally a 63 percent free throw shooter.
The Islanders have been one of the best teams in the Southland all season long. Corpus Christi, led by the fifth-year head coach Willis Wilson, started their Southland campaign 7-0 before falling in back-to-back games against Stephen F. Austin (66-61) and Incarnate Word (70-65). Since then, TAMU-CC has lost one game out of its last five, while posting a dominate 12-1 record at home at the American Bank Center.
The Wildcats, who know a thing or two about winning at home, are 9-2 at home this year, with one of those “home” losses coming away from Moody Coliseum, when ACU was forced to play a home game a few miles down the road at Hardin-Simmons University, due to Sing Song festivities. During conference play, the Wildcats are 5-0 at the coliseum and will return back to Abilene after their game with Corpus Christi for their final three games of the season to be played at home.
Franklin looks to return to his old form after battling the flu which caused him to miss the Wildcats game against Sam Houston State on Dec. 15. In his two games since the miss, he has scored 15 points in both games, after scoring 20 plus points in three straight games against Lamar (27), Houston Baptist (21) and Southeastern Louisiana (20). Freshman Jaren Lewis, coming off a near double-double of 10 points and eight rebounds, is second on the team at 9.0 points and a team-high 5.7 boards per game.
Senior sharp-shooter Parker Wentz has a chance to make history for ACU Tuesday night. If Wentz checks in at anytime during the game, he will have become ACU men’s basketball’s all-time leader in games played with 116 career games for the Wildcats. Wentz also leads the conference in three-point field goal shooting at 46 percent making 61 of 134 attempts.
Junior forward Rashawn Thomas is one of the top players in the Southland and is among the leaders in several categories. Thomas is fourth in the league at 17.0 points per game, leads the Southland in rebounding at 8.6 boards a night and is second with 2.3 blocks per game. The 6-foot-8 Oklahoma City native has scored 30 or more points five times this year and has recorded three of his nine double-doubles on the year in their last four games.
The Islanders, who average 74.2 points per game, get a lot of production from their trio of seniors. Guards Hameed Ali and Brandon Pye and forward Bryce Douvier all average 10.5 points per game. Ali is one of the best guards in the league on both sides of the ball. He scored 16 and 18 points in the Islanders past two games and recorded four steals in both games, as he leads the Southland with 3.0 steals per game.
TAMU-CC is the best defensive team in the league, holding opponents to 41 percent shooting, while ACU sits at the bottom of the conference at 48 percent. The Islanders also give up 68.3 points per game while forcing opponents into 17.2 turnovers per contest, second in the Southland. The Wildcats hold a 1.52 turnover margin, averaging 13.1 turnovers and forcing opposing teams into 14.6 turnovers a game.