Three All-Conference players lead LU Men into SLC Tournament
KATY – After a 20-win season and a Southland Conference East Division crown, the Lamar men’s basketball team will look to add a conference tournament championship to its list of accomplishments this season. Leading the Cardinals into the Southland Conference Tournament is a trio of senior guards who were named to the all-conference team Tuesday.
Mike James was named to the All-Southland Conference First Team, while Devon Lamb and Anthony Miles were each selected as second-team honorees. Along with regular season champion UT Arlington, Lamar was the only school with three players named all-conference.
Lamar finished the regular season as the No. 3 seed and will face sixth seeded Northwestern State on Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 from the Leonard E. Merrell Center. The game will be broadcast live in Beaumont on KLVI 560 AM with Dave Hofferth providing the play-by-play, and will be streamed live for free on SLC Now at Southland.org.
“All three of these guys didn’t make any of the all-conference teams last year,” said first-year Lamar head coach Pat Knight about his honorees. “They go from that to being first or second team. This shows how much hard work they put into it. It shows they earned a lot of respect around the league.
“Any time you get your kids on the all-conference team, it’s great because it shows they worked hard. It makes us (coaches) feel good too because we know the school’s going to get some notoriety.”
James led the Cardinals, and ranked third in the Southland, in scoring average at 16.8 points per game. He also leads the league in free throw percentage at 81.4 percent, and is fifth in steals at 1.7 per game. James scored 52 points against Louisiana College as a junior to set the school single-game scoring record.
“It’s a great honor for Mike,” said Knight. “He’s worked really hard and bought in to what we wanted him to do from a basketball standpoint, so it’s good he got rewarded for it. It’s not just his offense. The kid played well defensively, too. I thought he had a great year on both ends of the floor.
Lamb leads Lamar with 10 double-doubles on the year and his 8.3 rebounds per game rank second in the Southland. An honorable mention selection as a junior, Lamb is scoring 12.0 points per game and picking up 1.8 steals per game.
“Lamb is the best 6-foot power forward you’ll ever see and I’ll never coach another player like him,” said Knight about his leading rebounder. “I’m glad he got the respect he deserves because when you get that many double-doubles at his size, sometimes that stuff gets overlooked and people get enamored with points. He was probably our most valuable player.”
Miles is fifth in the league in scoring at 14.6 points per game, and also ranks second in free throw percentage at 81.2 percent and third is assists per game at 4.1. Miles, who joined Lamb as an honorable mention selection last year, will be playing in his 123rd career game Wednesday to establish a new school record.
“Buck (Miles) is our leader and our quarterback,” said Knight. “I’m thrilled for him. He’s one of the best guards I’ve coached, and along with Mike, that’s going to be a tough backcourt to replace.”
Lamar is making its first trip to the conference tournament since the 2007-08 season when as a No. 2 seed it fell 81-75 to eventual tournament champion UT Arlington. The Cardinals have won three Southland Tournament championships in 14 previous appearances, with the last title coming in 2000.
Lamar is going in to the tournament on a three-game winning streak, including a 78-68 home win over McNeese State on Saturday that gave the Cardinals the East Division crown. It was also Lamar’s 20th win of the season, marking the first time Lamar had reached that milestone since 1988.
The Demons and Cardinals split a pair of regular season games this year with each team winning on its home court. Lamar is 23-21 against NSU all-time, but it was the Demons who knocked Lamar out of three straight SLC Tournaments from 2005-2007. The winner of the game will take on the winner of the Stephen F. Austin vs. Sam Houston State game on Thursday night at 6:05 p.m.
Lamar is third in the conference in scoring at 74.6 points per game with the Demons fifth at 70.6 points per game. They are both ranked in the top two in the league in both steals and blocked shots. Behind senior center William Mosley, NSU leads the conference in blocked shots at 6.6 per game. Lamar is second at 4.3.
NSU is also first in steals at 9.0 with Lamar averaging 8.4. Lamb, James and Miles all rank among the top 10 in the conference.
Mosley, who earned First Team All-Southland honors, leads the league in rebounding at 9.6 per game and blocked shots at 4.1. He averages more than twice as many blocked shots as any other player in the Southland Conference to go along with his 11.3 points per game.
Junior guard Shamir Davis leads head coach Mike McConathy’s Demons in scoring at 13.4 points per game. Davis is also ninth in assists in the Southland at 3.2 per contest. Fellow guard Louis Ellis is the other double-figure scorer on the team with 10.9 points per game.