87° San Marcos
The Student News Site of Texas State University

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

SUBMIT NEWS

If you're interested in submitting News, click here.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.

Men’s basketball outplays the tall-ball Trojans

Texas State men’s basketball (12-6 overall, 6-3 Sun Belt) collectively outplayed the physical University of Arkansas at Little Rock (10-8 overall, 6-5 Sun Belt), winning 57-47 in its first game of the weekend at Strahan Arena.
Bouncing back from consecutive two-point losses against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the Bobcats overcame the Trojans for the third time in three games this season, playing around the height of last year’s number one seeded team in the Sun Belt Conference.
Little Rock established a small lead in the first minutes of the game from two three-pointers on consecutive possessions and the paint presence of junior forward Nikola Maric (12 PTS, 5-9 FG).
The 14:24 mark seemed to be the turning point for the Bobcats when a tough layup by junior guard Mason Harrell shrank the largest Trojan lead of the game from six points to just four at 12-8, marking the start of a 9-0 run for Texas State.
After a Little Rock free throw brought the score to 15-13 in favor of the Bobcats, Texas State went on an 8-0 scoring run until a three by the Trojans from junior guard Markquis Nowell at the 5:03 mark slowed the scoring onslaught. The lead ballooned to double digits at the 5:31 mark, and Texas State lost neither its momentum nor the lead for the rest of the game, walking off the court at halftime with a 37-24 lead.
On the stats sheet, no one Texas State player outshined another — only junior forward Alonzo Sule cracked double-digit points (10 PTS, 3-6 FG, 4-4 FT) — and the team as a whole moved well off the ball to contribute to the constant ball movement to find open shooters inside the arc. Every player who stepped on the court scored with the exception of graduate guard Marlin Davis, who led the team with five assists at the break.
Interim Head Coach Terrence Johnson says the balanced play on both sides of the ball has to be repeated to make it four straight wins against Little Rock.
“I think our guys tonight didn’t care who got the credit,” Johnson says. “I’m proud of our guys; I think it’s gonna take a very similar effort in tomorrow’s game, especially on the defensive end [and] on the rebounding, winning 50/50 balls and actually causing havoc by getting deflections.”
Guards like Harrell (9 PTS, 4-9 FG, 4 AS) and junior Caleb Asberry (9 PTS, 4-11 FG) frequently found themselves one-on-one against much taller forwards in the paint but were able to make pull-up jumpers and tough layups due to their quickness and agility, ignoring the reach, height and wingspan advantage of many of the Trojan defenders. Asberry scored all nine of his points in the first half, including a three from near half court as the shot clock expired.
Little Rock’s accuracy never eclipsed the Bobcats’, shooting 42.9% to Texas State’s 55.6% in the first half due to a disciplined Texas State defense, which rarely gave up a comfortable Trojan shot attempt. This, paired with the inability to stop slashing layups and mid-range jumpers, kept the gap in points wide for most of the game.
Freshman forward Nate Martin (4 PTS, 2-4 FG) shined on both sides of the ball, especially when assigned to senior forward Ruot Monyyong (4 PTS, 2-2 FGS, 11 REB), out-muscling and out-maneuvering the more experienced big man in the post and shutting down his paint presence for much of the first half.
Johnson says Martin’s consistency in practice, resiliency and the potential observed by coaches and alumni alike drove Johnson to give the freshman more minutes.
“I got a call from Nijal Pearson about getting [Martin] more playing time,” Johnson says. “Certainly if he calls me I need to listen a little bit. We just feel like he’s growing up, gaining more confidence. He stayed engaged throughout the whole time and didn’t let a mistake affect him long-term like some freshmen do.”
When asked what Pearson, Texas State’s all-time leading scorer at 2,122 points, had to say about Martin, Johnson says Pearson pointed out the “unnoticed” yet important influence Martin has over the few minutes he was given and that he “impacted winning.”
Neither team could assert themselves after re-taking the court, as only four points were scored between the two teams in the first four and a half minutes. After the small hiatus in action, the trends of the first half resumed. Texas State expanded its lead to a game-high 17 points at 45-28.
The game became scrappier in the last 10 minutes of the second half as the Trojans played more desperately and implemented a full-court press. The game slowed down due to Trojan fouls when the Bobcats attempted to get out of their own side of the court.
The Trojans’ newfound urgency did momentarily close the gap, the lead shrinking to 51-41, but it also left Bobcats open down the court. No example of this was more eye-catching than a full-court pass from Asberry to an eager Sule for a forceful two-handed jam.
Harrell’s agility and creativity again came into play as he escaped double teams from half court to feed open teammates, the most memorable of those assists being a 1:54 lob from the middle of the paint to a leaping senior forward Isiah Small, who slammed home the feed to the delight of the fans in Strahan.
“He’s our general,” Johnson says. “We’re gonna go as far as he takes us. He isn’t extremely vocal, or loud or boisterous. But what he [has] is a quiet confidence about himself, unbelievable toughness, focus and desire to win. In short, if I had to put it in one word, he’s a winner. He’s willing to do whatever he needs to do for us to win. He doesn’t care who gets the credit. He’s an All-Conference player.”
The Bobcats seemed to drain their opposition of all energy with the dunk. The game wound down with high spirits for a revitalized Texas State team, energy Johnson wants the team to carry into its second game of the weekend, along with a healthy dose of respect for its opponent.
“We know that the margin of error is slim,” Johnson says. “We know what it’s gonna take. I mean, they won the league last year.”
The second round against the Trojans will take place at the same venue at 4 p.m. on Feb. 6 and will be streamed on ESPN+.

Donate to The University Star

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The University Star