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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

Men’s basketball completes season sweep against Little Rock

Texas State men’s basketball (12-6 overall, 7-4 in Sun Belt) defeated the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (10-8 overall, 6-6 in Sun Belt) 77-67 in overtime on Feb. 6, completing a weekend sweep.
The Bobcats have now played the Trojans four times in the 2020-21 season and defeated them in all four games.
“Those are the kind of games you live for,” Johnson says. “Clearly, we kind of left up off the pedal, but man we were shorthanded and tired. You know [our] guard rotation without Marlin Davis is somewhat depleted now, and we’re asking our guys to carry a lot of weight, and it may not be so tough for one game but for back-to-back games, the emotions that come along with it, sometimes it can make you a little bit more tired and make your decisions a little bit more impactful.”
In the first minutes of the game, Texas State built a small 7-1 lead, including five early points from junior guard Mason Harrell. Both teams hit a cold spell for about two minutes until Little Rock’s senior guard Ben Coupet Jr. made a three-pointer to make the score 10-6 at the 13:54 mark.
The Bobcats’ lead hit double digits after a free throw by junior forward Nighael Ceaser put them up 16-6 with 11:09 until halftime. Texas State built its lead up to 17 points at the 6:25 mark before Little Rock began to close the gap.
With just over two minutes left in the half, junior forward Nikola Maric sunk a jumper from the painted area to close the gap to 28-22.
To end the first half, Texas State went on a 5-1 run and led Little Rock 33-23. The Bobcats shot 52% (13-25) overall from the field, 42.9% (3-7) from beyond the arc and 80% (4-5) for free throws in the first half.
Junior guard Caleb Asberry led the Bobcats in points for the first half with 10 points (4-7 FGS, 1-3 3FGS, 2-2 FTS). Senior forward Isiah Small (2-3 FGS, 1-2 3FGS) and Harrell (3-4 FG and 1-1 3FG) followed with seven points each.
On the other end, the Trojans shot 40% (6-15) from the field, 75% (3-4) on three-pointers and 72.7% (8-11) from the free-throw line. Maric led Little Rock with 10 points (3-6 FGS, 4-6 FTS).
The second half started with a turnover by Asberry ultimately leading to Little Rock gaining the first point of the half with a layup from sophomore guard Isaiah Palermo, immediately followed by a layup from Alonzo Sule making the score 35-25.
At the 13:02 minute mark, a foul on Maric sent Shelby Adams out with an injury to his eye. In his place, Ceaser completed both free throws to increase the Bobcats’ lead to 51-29. Adams would later return to the game.
The Bobcats led by 23 points with 11:52 left in regulation and looked like they would cruise to the win but Little Rock then went on a 28-4 run, which included three-pointers and 11 points from sophomore guard Marko Lukic, capped off by a layup from Maric to take the lead 60-59. 
Senior forward Ruot Monyyong made a layup for the Trojans to bring his team up by three, but Harrell responded with a clutch three-pointer to tie the game 62-62 with nine seconds on the clock, sending the game into overtime.
Johnson praised his team’s execution on the game-tying possession.
“To be honest with you they ran the play to perfection, the exact same way it was on the board was the way they ran it,” Johnson says. “That doesn’t happen very often, but it happened that time. I just left the locker room and I told Alonzo Sule he did a great job setting a screen, Caleb did a great job selling the play and making the pass. When you have a good screen and you have a good pass and you have a good player, you’re probably going to have a good result and that’s what happened.” 
To start overtime, the Bobcats took the lead with a three-pointer from Asberry. Immediately after the three-pointer, Lukic responded with a three-point jumper tying up the score once again at 65-65. Texas State fired back with another three, this time from Small, to once again take the lead 68-65 with 3:23 left in overtime.
The Trojans failed to convert a field goal for the rest of the game as Texas State outscored Little Rock 9-2 to close out the game. Ceaser made an exclamation point dunk with 20 seconds left to seal the 77-67 win over the Trojans.
For the game, Asberry (7-17 FGS, 4-10 3FGS) and Harrell (7-14 FGS, 3-7 3FGS, 4-4 FTS) led the way for the Bobcats with 21 points and four assists apiece. Asberry also had a team-high six rebounds. Small had a near-perfect night with 12 points on 4-5 shooting from the field and 2-2 at the line to go with four steals.
Lukic led the Trojans in scoring with 21 points (7-10 FGS, 6-8 3FGS). Monyyong finished just one rebound shy of a double-double with 10 points (3-6 FGS, 4-4 FTS) and nine rebounds.
Next up for the Bobcats is a match against the University of Texas at Arlington at 6 p.m. on Feb. 11 at Strahan Arena.

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