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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Johnson, players reflect on up-and-down season

Texas+State+senior+forward+Nighael+Ceaser+%2822%29+shoots+against+Georgia+Southern+University%2C+Thursday%2C+Jan.+26%2C+2023%2C+at+the+Strahan+Arena.+The+Bobcats+won+70-67.

Texas State senior forward Nighael Ceaser (22) shoots against Georgia Southern University, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the Strahan Arena. The Bobcats won 70-67.

Texas State men’s basketball ended the 2022-23 season with a historic run in the Sun Belt tournament being the first double-digit seed to reach the semifinals. 
The Bobcats cut a 14-point deficit to two late in the game but would fall short to the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. This marks the second straight year in which the Bobcats’ season ended at the hands of the Ragin’ Cajuns. 
Expectations were high early this season due to the Bobcats being crowned Sun Belt Conference champions the past two seasons and returning a team full of veteran players. 
“We were able to shake off a super challenging situation in not being able to get a tournament win since I’ve been a head coach here,” head coach Terrence Johnson said. “It was a big deal for us, and then you turn around, and we’re able to string together a couple more wins. I was proud of how these guys played a high level of basketball down the stretch of the season.”
Texas State finished with a 6-12 conference record which is the first time the ‘Cats fell below .500 since the 2017-18 season. Teams such as Old Dominion and Marshall defeated the Bobcats during the regular season. However, Texas State flipped the script in the tournament, securing wins against these teams and highlighting its capabilities. 
The high expectations early on this season came from the confidence of senior guard Mason Harrell who returned for his fifth year to lead the ‘Cats.
“Throughout the season we did feel like we let a lot of games slip, and there’s a lot of games we should have won,” Harrell said. “Going into the tournament just knowing that really gave us confidence to be able to compete with anybody in the Sun Belt.” 
Harrell finished his final season as a Bobcat earning Sun Belt Conference All-Tournament Team and led the team in scoring averaging 15.9 points per game. He shot 41.3 field goal percentage along with a 34.1 3-point percentage. 
The 5-foot-9-inch guard was impressive in his final games and made clutch plays throughout the season in tight game situations. 
Senior forward Nighael Ceaser also played his final game as a Bobcat finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds to secure a double-double against Louisiana-Lafayette. Ceaser scored double digits in his final three games as a Bobcat and finished the season averaging 9.6 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game. 
With the two leading scorers departing, Texas State looks to build off key returners including freshman guard Jordan Mason who had three double-digit scoring efforts in the Sun Belt tournament. 
The Bobcats welcome back other guards who were swapped within the starting lineup throughout the season, as well a solid front court with three players listed at 6-foot-8-inch and above. 
“I was just trying to help win games anyway I could,” Mason said. “We had no pressure, we went in with nothing to lose, we weren’t expected to win any games and we just stuck together and showed we could make a run.”
In the 71-68 quarterfinals victory versus Marshall, the Bobcats had five players hit double-digits while shooting 52.6 field goal percentage as a team. Multiple players this season showed scoring ability. Next season’s offensive output needs to rise to offset the departure of Harrell and Ceaser.
“This team was more of a one-man show than we’ve had in the years past, usually were a team that’s led by three main guys or so and I think it’ll continue that way going forward,” Johnson said.
The Bobcats will be a team to watch next season after their postseason run and allowing a young group to mesh and gain experiences to improve upon. 
Texas State adds three players to the roster for the 2023-24 season: Kaden Gumbs a three-star recruit from San Marcos High School who is a two-time 26-6A Defensive MVP with over 1,000 career points and two 6-foot-4-inch guards with experience, Dontae Horne of Howard College and Elijah Tate of South Plains College.

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  • Texas State freshman guard Jordan Mason (3) drives down the court against Georgia Southern University, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats won 70-67.

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