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The University Star


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Men’s basketball sweeps Trojans in second win of weekend


Junior guard Caleb Asberry (2) attempts a shot against the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Trojans during a weekend series against the team. Texas State swept the Trojans, winning its final game 67-56. 

Texas State men’s basketball (9-4 overall, 3-1 Sun Belt) beat the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Trojans (7-6 overall, 3-3 Sun Belt) for the second time in as many days in a competitive but decisive 67-56 victory.
After their two-game series with Arkansas State University was postponed because of COVID-19 concerns related to the team, the Bobcats came out swinging against a fellow high-flying Sun Belt Conference team in the Trojans. Texas State now stands alone atop the West Division of the Sun Belt Conference and is on a three-game win streak.
The first half tipped off with just as much passion as the previous game’s end, as both teams were without creative pieces because of a scuffle toward the end of the 59-48 Bobcat victory. Texas State was without the playmaking of graduate guard Marlon Davis, while Little Rock felt a similar absence without junior guard Markquis Nowell due to both players being ejected and suspended for their roles in the incident.
Despite the lauded and physical defenses from both teams, the half was an active scoring affair as both teams traded buckets inside and from distance. Senior guard Ben Coupet Jr. started the Trojans off with a three, which senior forward Isiah Small responded to with three made free throws after being fouled beyond the arc.
Coupet Jr. led the Trojans in scoring in the first half with his deadly accuracy from all parts of the court, scoring 15 points (4-5 FGS, 3-4 3FGS, 4-4 FTS). Senior forward Ruot Monyyong, who averaged 13.7 points coming into the game, seemed to be on track for a good night, ending the first half with nine points (3-4 FGS, 3-4 FTS).
The Trojan game plan seemed to dare the Bobcats to find scorers outside of some of the usual subjects, Small and junior guard Mason Harrell. Harrell, who stands at 5’9”, often found himself guarded by the 6’10” Monyyong on the perimeter or by two other Trojans in a full court press to limit his scoring and playmaking abilities.
Junior guard Caleb Asberry stepped up to bear most of the Bobcats’ scoring load in the first half with 14 points (5-7 FGS, 4-5 3FGS). The largest Bobcat scoring run of the game, an 8-0 stretch from 5:09 to 3:21 in the first half, was bookended by two Asberry threes to make the score 35-26.
The offensive flurry was not solely off the efforts of Asberry, as senior guard Shelby Adams started hot and contributed 10 in the first. Six of Adams’ 10 points in the first half were made off layups in a quick stretch between 13:13 and 11:35. The Bobcats took the lead at the 15:17 mark at 11-9 and did not fall behind for the rest of the half or the game, returning to the locker room at 40-34.
Texas State honed in on what made the team so successful thus far in the season — defense. Whether it was the fatigue from the constant full court press or the Bobcats putting on the clamps, Little Rock’s shooting never got close to its apex of the first half, going 8-21 in the second. The accuracy from deep withered away just as much as the field goal percentage, falling from 4-8 from three in the first to 1-5.
The Bobcats simply continued their game, keeping the ball in the hands of those who could make plays happen and locked down the stars of the Trojan first half. Little Rock could not adapt as well as its opponents did in the final period, as Coupet Jr. only scored five and Monyyong was limited to one point. The Trojans’ only scoring outlet was junior forward Nikola Maric, who scored eight in the second.
Junior forward Alonzo Sule made his presence felt in the second half with eight of his nine points coming after the teams returned from the locker room, while Asberry continued his excellent form with nine points, shooting a perfect 4-4 from the field, 1-1 from three.
Texas State enjoyed its first of three 11-point leads at the 16:13 mark, keeping the Trojans at arm’s length for the majority of the remaining minutes. Concern would begin to form as Texas State went scoreless from 15:29 to 9:09 and Little Rock closed the gap to only two points at 49-47.
The scoring drought came to an end with a Sule layup, which then saw a steady rebuilding of the lead as the Bobcats reapplied the clamps and found previously unavailable space in the paint and several points off fast breaks after turnovers.
An Asberry dunk with 1:25 left extended the lead to 64-56 and seemed to seal the deal, as the Trojans did not foul in an attempt to get back into the game. Another layup by Sule and a free throw by Harrell restored the lead to its 11-point high to end the game, with Texas State winning 67-56.
Asberry finished with a game-high 23 points (9-11 FGS, 5-6 3FGS), followed by Adams with 11 (5-10 FGS) and Harrell with 10 (4-10 FGS, 1-3 3FGS). Asberry was also the Bobcats’ leading rebounder with seven, while Adams had six (three OR).
For Little Rock, Coupet Jr. had 20 points (6-11 FGS, 4-6 3FGS, 4-4 FTS) and Monyyong had 10 (3-6 FGS, 4-6 FTS). Monyyong led all players with 10 rebounds (three OR).
Texas State will extend its stretch of away games to eight straight when it faces the University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks (4-9 overall, 2-4 Sun Belt) at 6 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Jan. 22-23, respectively. Both games will be streamable on ESPN+.

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