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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

Career-night from Sykes propels Bobcats to overtime win against Troy

Mandalyn Lewallen
Texas State junior guard Dontae Horne (2) dribbles the ball past a Troy defender, Friday, March 1, 2024, at Strahan Arena.

Sophomore forward Davion Sykes finished with a career-high 30 points and 12 rebounds in helping Texas State men’s basketball (14-17, 7-11 Sun Belt Conference) hold off Troy University (20-11, 13-5 Sun Belt Conference), 82-79 Friday night in Strahan Arena to end the 2023-2024 regular season on a three-game winning streak.

Sykes recorded his sixth double-figure performance in a month. Within those double-doubles, the Bobcats have won every time.

After the tip-off, both teams showed physicality, not allowing each other to find a rhythm, with the score only being 12-12 10 minutes into the game.

“From start to finish, [Sykes] played his game,” Texas State Head Coach Terrance Johnson said. “Davion didn’t do anything he hadn’t done all season.”

Troy’s offense began to take advantage of the Bobcats’ turnovers as they allowed 14 points off 11 turnovers to take a 39-25 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the first half.

The Bobcats recollected themselves by collecting a three-point play from Sykes on a put-back layup and a follow-up play by junior forward Brandon Love to cut the lead to 39-30 going into halftime.

In the second half, Texas State inched its way closer but went on a dry spell, going scoreless for three minutes to find itself down double digits once again with 13:34 remaining.

Troy held the lead for approximately 29:32 until a big three-point shot from sophomore guard Jordan Mason to take a 62-61 Bobcat lead.

The Trojans answered and created a pivotal moment, draining a three-pointer by freshman forward Victor Valdes to take a three-point lead with two minutes remaining in regulation.

The Trojans proceeded to get a big defensive stop and an offensive rebound on the other end of the court to send themselves to the free-throw line, advancing the lead 68-64 with less than a minute remaining.

Junior guard Dontae Horne’s three-point play gave the Bobcats a chance to tie the game, but they could not corral the extra point, forcing a late-game foul and sending Troy’s freshman forward Myles Rigsby to the free-throw line.

Rigsby made the first but missed the second, giving the Bobcats one final opportunity with 22 seconds remaining to either tie or win the game.

Sykes tied the game from a drop-off pass under the rim by Horne to send the Bobcats to overtime.

The Bobcats’ grit and toughness down the stretch mounted their comeback, securing a 3-point lead with 10 seconds remaining in overtime.

Rigsby attempted a three-pointer to tie the game again but missed to secure the hard-fought Texas State win.

Horne finished the game with a career-high 17 points while going 6-for-11 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free throw line and added seven assists.

The Trojans were led in scoring by junior guard Tayton Conerway, who finished with 14 points and three steals. Troy also got 12 points, six rebounds and two steals from Rigsby. In addition, senior guard Aamer Muhammad had 11 points and a pair of steals.

The win secured Texas State a top-10 seed in the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Tournament and its six-game winning streak at Strahan alive. The Bobcats will play their first tournament game in the second round against South Alabama (16-15, 8-10 Sun Belt Conference). The Jaguars and Bobcats split the series during the regular season.

“I’d rather we go out there with a win against a top-three team than a loss,” Johnson said. “I think if we can keep this momentum, we see that we can play with anybody, so hopefully, we can keep that hunger and focus.”

Tip-off between Texas State and South Alabama is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Mar. 7, at the Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, Flordia. The game will be available to stream on ESPN+.

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