Quick Facts about Stephen F. Austin
Location: Nacogdoches, TX
Head Coach: Brad Underwood (Overall Record: 33-3 in 2nd Season)
2013-14 Record: 32-3 (18-0 conference)
2014-15 Record: 1-2
Last Game: 63-81 loss to Xavier
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2014 (Round of 32)
November 24, 2014 in Waco, TX (7:00 PM CT, Channel: FSSW)
When the season started, this matchup seemed to be the first major test for the Bears, but the shine has fallen off.
Stephen F. Austin comes into Waco off of its best season in school history, with then-first-year head coach Brad Underwood leading his team to a 32-3 overall record, an undefeated mark in conference play, and an NCAA Tournament win. However, the start to the 2014-15 season has been anything but exemplary for Underwood’s team. That said, there is little doubt that SFA can still contend in the Southland conference, which means a win will do well towards boosting the Bears’ RPI by season’s end.
For the Bears defensively, two Lumberjacks will need to be shut down: Jacob Parker and Thomas Walkup. A senior and junior, respectively, Parker and Walkup are the only two players to average more than 22 minutes this season, both sitting around 31 mpg. A heavy bulk of the offense is run through this guard-forward combo, with 46% of the total points scored coming from their play.
Parker, a 6’6’’ undersized forward, is shooting an incredible 54% from the field and 42% from behind the arc. He is adding a little under 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal to that stat line as well. Coach Underwood has cited Parker as the leader of the team and says that he strives in that role on and off the court.
Walkup, meanwhile, compliments Parker nicely. A sizable guard, Walkup also averages over 50% from the field, but his weakness lies in three-point range, knocking down only 25% of his attempts. What is perhaps most noticeable about Walkup’s play, however, is that he is not afraid to get physical and crash the boards. Baylor has always struggled with its guards grabbing rebounds, and Walkup could teach them a thing or two, averaging almost 8 boards per game.
Offensively for the Bears, the excellent guard play of Kenny Chery and Lester Medford must endure, in order to allow Rico Gathers, Johnathan Motley, and Deng Deng to continue settling into their respective roles in the paint. Size-wise the Bears should have little problem down low, so look for those three posts mentioned previously to take advantage of their matchups. Taurean Prince will likely see more minutes this time around, which is good news for Baylor fans, as Prince is averaging an incredibly efficient 80% from the field and 10 ppg.
Players to Watch:
SFA: Jacob Parker and Thomas Walkup
Baylor: Taurean Prince
Final Prediction: SFA – 57 Baylor – 72