CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – With a 94-82 victory over visiting Central Arkansas to start Southland Conference play Tuesday evening, the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team improved to 10-3 on the year, the best start in program history.
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"You get into conference play and you just never know what's going to happen," Head Coach Willis Wilson said after the game. "That was a team we faced tonight that felt that if there's time to rally the troops and have new life, it's conference play. They did a really nice job of doing what they do."
With a week off since defeating Austin Peay on the road, the Islanders got out to a sluggish start. Central Arkansas (1-11, 0-2) led by as many as 11 points, at 28-17 with 9:55 to play in the first, before A&M-Corpus Christi battled back with a 13-1 run to regain the lead at 30-29.
Leading 45-43 out of the break, the Islanders (10-3, 1-0) used a 14-4 run to start the second half to go up 59-47 and take control of the contest. The Blue and Green extended their lead to as much as 22 before cruising to the 94-82 victory.
"I was really proud of our guys," Wilson said. "We made plays. We made plays at key times tonight that really ignited our team."
PYE SCORES CAREER HIGH 23 ON SEVEN THREES
Senior Brandon Pye led the Islanders with a career high 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 7-of-10 from the three-point line. His seven threes were a career best. He's now tied for fourth all-time with 137 career threes made. Pye had scored just a combined 10 points over the last three games.
ALI GOES FOR SECOND STRAIGHT 20-POINT GAME
• After a career high 26 at Austin Peay last week, senior Hameed Ali was back at it with 20 points against the Bears.
• Ali knocked down five threes, a career best for the Hayward, Calif., native.
• The point guard also had five assists, marking the seventh time this season he's dished out at least five helpers.
ISLANDERS VICTORIOUS DESPITE 36 FROM UCA'S HOWARD
Last year's Southland Conference Freshman of the Year Jordan Howard went off for 36 points against the Islanders. He was 10-for-14 from the field, 6-for-7 from three-point range and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. The sophomore added seven rebounds and four assists in the defeat.
A&M-CC OUTSCORES BEARS 20-7 OFF TURNOVERS
• A&M-Corpus Christi forced Central Arkansas into 17 turnovers in the game, which led to 20 points for the Blue and Green.
• On the other side, the Islanders only gave the ball away 10 times.
• The Bears were only able to score seven points off of those 10 giveaways.
JOE KILGORE LEADS BENCH TO 27-POINT NIGHT
The Islanders outscored the Bears 27-6 in bench points. Sophomore Joe Kilgore scored 13 to lead the A&M-Corpus Christi bench, but plenty of Islanders got in on the action. Ehab Amin had eight, Emmanuel Toney put up four and Jake Kocher chipped in with two.
The Islanders will continue Southland Conference play Saturday, Jan. 9 at McNeese State. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Lake Charles, La.
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