SFA moves to 4-0 after dominating win over Howard Payne

SFA moves to 4-0 after dominating win over Howard Payne

From SFA Athletics

Nacogdoches, TX - At the endpoint of a stretch of three games in a matter of only four days, the Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team emphatically denied any doubts about its fatigue level by producing an offensive explosion the likes of which not seen by Lumberjack men's basketball faithful since the mid 1990's. 

Unloading a relentless scoring barrage on visiting Howard Payne, SFA posted its highest single-game point total in almost 21 years and received a game-best 30 points from junior Shannon Bogues in a 118-64 evisceration of Howard Payne inside the walls of William R. Johnson Coliseum Saturday afternoon. The win kept SFA perfect at 4-0 and continued the team's best start since the 2013-13 campaign. 

Bogues, who put forth the first 30-point effort by an SFA player since Thomas Walkup racked up 33 against then No. 8-ranked West Virginia in the 'Jacks' opening round win over the Mountaineers in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, finished 12-of-17 from the field with many of his buckets coming off of great passes from his teammates. 

In all, the 'Jacks totaled 26 assists - the most in a game since passing out 27 against Northwestern State on Feb. 8, 2016 - with a career-best nine of them coming off the hands of senior guard Ivan Canete. The final-year man just missed out on his first SFA double as he also finished with 12 points and tied a career best with six steals. 

Yet another SFA double-double opportunity fell just short as junior TJ Holyfield put in a career-best 25 points to go along with a game-high nine rebounds and five steals. Many of those steals came off of the sheer fact that Howard Payne turned the ball over 38 times - the highest turnover total by an SFA opponent in at least 10 years. 

"For the final 28 minutes of the game, I thought our team played the best it has all year," remarked SFA head coach Kyle Keller following the conclusion of the game. "Defensively we're finally starting to trust each other and buy into how we guard more than they have earlier in the week."

SFA connected on 59.2-percent (42-of-71) of its shots - the best single-game field goal percentage in the Kyle Keller coaching era - and finished with a 40-22 edge on the glass in the rout. Howard Payne shot a respectable 43.2-percent (19-of-44) but the Yellow Jackets' propensity to throw the ball away made it impossible for them to even attempt to come back. 

For as many points as the 'Jacks' finished with, it was Howard Payne that came out firing. The Yellow Jackets received a pair of three-pointers from De'Marcus Hurd and one more from Khyce Randall to take a 9-8 lead with 3:02 gone before SFA's offense sprang to life. 

Through the next 2:51, John Comeaux, Kevon Harris and Leon Gilmore III led the home team on a 15-0 run that ensured the Yellow Jackets would never again lead. Comeaux started the surge with eight-straight points before Gilmore III and Harris joined in and finished the scoring surge that put SFA ahead 23-9 with 14:07 left in the opening frame. 

Howard Payne fought back, eventually shrinking the 'Jacks' once-comfortable lead all the way down to 40-31 after a pair of free throw makes by Hurd with 5:53 remaining in the opening stanza. Needing to score another batch of points in a hurry, SFA did so before the first frame was in the books and put the game away in the process.

Leading 46-35 after Howard Payne's Talen Davis hit a layup with 3:33 left in the half, SFA ended the half on a 17-0 run with all of the points coming from the trio of Bogues, Canete and Holyfield. That scoring spree put SFA ahead 63-35 at the break and left the Yellow Jackets at a loss for answers. 

Piling on the points, SFA's advantage never dipped below 28 the rest of the way and the 'Jacks watched it bulge to as high as 58, 118-60, when Comeaux converted a layup with 52 ticks left. 

Comeaux finished with 13 points while Kevon Harris - who scored 20 or more in two of his first three games this season - was held to 14. Hurd fired in 23 markers for the Yellow Jackets who played the game as an exhibition. 

Still undefeated and boasting a 4-0 mark for the first time since 2012-13, the 'Jacks next test will be a far stiffer one when they head to Starkville, Miss., for a Wednesday night showdown with Mississippi State - another undefeated squad. 

The Bulldogs are a different breed of animal than what the 'Jacks have tangled with thus far in 2017-18 - a fact that Keller had no qualms about sharing with his team mere moments after its most lopsided victory since the 2013-14 season opener (an 84-30 SFA win over NCAA Division III adversary UT-Tyler).

"As far as I'm concerned, our season starts tomorrow. That what we just got done talking about in the locker room," Keller vowed. "It's nice that we've done exactly what we're supposed to do up to this point and at the half I told our team the way the executed during that last 20 minutes would lay the groundwork for our next three days of preparation.

The only way we'll have a chance to do something really special for our program on Wednesday is to keep improving on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday."