SFA clinches SLC championship with 40 point win

NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team claimed the outright Southland Conference championship, as sophomore Thomas Walkup recorded a career-high 28 points in a 103-63 victory at New Orleans on Thursday night in Lakefront Arena.

"We made shots tonight, we were very dialed in," head coach Brad Underwood said. "New Orleans has a good basketball team and we felt like they had to match their intensity in order to win hear on the road. When the ball goes in the basket, things look easy. We are very balanced, we have a lot of weapons and tonight we got the ball to the rim, which was really good."

SFA (26-2, 14-0 SLC) entered the night with a three game lead over Piney Woods rival Sam Houston State, and with the win over UNO (11-12, 8-7 SLC ) and SHSU's 80-71 loss and UCA, the 'Jacks claimed their second outright conference championship and first under head coach Brad Underwood.

SFA nets 100 points for the first time since they did so against Howard Payne in 2010 and the first against a league opponent since dropping 110 against Texas-Arlington in the 1994-95 season.

The 'Jacks picked up their nation-leading 13th overall road win and 11th straight road win, which ranks second behind No. 2 Wichita State. SFA also extends its overall win streak to 23 straight wins, with the won over UNO (11-12, 8-7 SLC), which also ranks second nationally behind only WSU.

Walkup recorded a game-high 28 points in the victory, as four different 'Jacks scored in double figures. The native of Pasadena, Texas, finished 13-of-16 from the field, and sunk two of his three free throws attempts to hand the Privateers their worst loss at home in program history.

Of the 103 points scored by the 'Jacks, SFA scored 56 in the paint and 33 off of turnovers in the victory. The 'Jacks also held a 20-10 mark in second-chance points and a 10-0 advantage in fast break points.

SFA quickly set the tone of the night, opening 7-0 on UNO and building to as much as 25 (53-28) before taking a 53-30 lead into the break.  The 'Jacks connected on its first five field goal attempts, while the Privateers started one-for-six.

In the second half, the intensity never let up as SFA surged to as high as a 43 in the championship-clinching victory.

The 'Jacks will now close their road schedule on Saturday, Mar. 1, at Southeastern Louisiana, before returning to Nacogdoches for their final two regular season games.