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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

Benson and Mason: The one-two punch off the Bobcat bench

Mandalyn Lewallen
Texas State guard sophomore Coleton Benson (22) shoots from the three point line during the game against LeTourneau, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, at Strahan Arena.

Since transferring to Texas State from Army West Point, sophomore guard Coleton Benson has been a spark off the bench for the Bobcats offensively and defensively.

Benson is averaging 7.9 points and one and a half rebounds per game while only getting 18 minutes per night. Originally from Austin, Benson decided to sacrifice his playing time at Army West Point to come to a nearby Texas State team he believes has a bright future.

Texas State Head Coach Terrence Johnson said he’s happy with what he’s seen from Benson during the 2023-24 season and wants Benson playing a part in the team no matter what role he fills.

“[Benson has] been willing and trying to learn, and trying to get himself engulfed into who we are and what we do,” Johnson said. “[He asks] ‘How can I help you’…’How can I be of service?’… ‘What do you need me to do in practice’… ‘Do you need me to be a passer or a be a shooter?’”

Benson is shooting nearly 40% from beyond the arc from off the bench and bench production is something the Bobcats needed as they ranked as one of the worst shooting teams in the nation last season.

Compared to Army West Point where he started 31 games and averaged nearly 30 minutes per game, he has only appeared in 21 games for the Bobcats, with his first start of the season coming against Georgia State on Feb. 24.

“The role that I have right now, I am grateful for it, and just blessed to have the opportunity that I am playing right now,” Benson said. “[I’m] just trying to do anything I can to help us win. At the end of the day, that is the biggest thing is just doing my part and my role in any way that I can to help us get a [win].”

While he has found success, Benson said the transfer process to Texas State was complicated. Many of Benson’s class credits from Army West Point did not transfer to Texas State. As a result, until he managed his credits the NCAA said Benson wasn’t qualified to play for Texas State.

It wasn’t until Jan. 17 against Arkansas State that Benson was able to suit up and play in his first game for the Bobcats after the NCAA finally granted him playing eligibility.

With the possibility of not seeing the court during the 23-24 season, Benson said he aimed to help the team even if it was on the sidelines in street clothes.

“My mindset during that point was really trying to have a coaching mindset,” Benson said. “Because I couldn’t contribute in games at that point in the season, which was very different for me. But I saw the game in a different way at that point.”

Sophomore guard Jordan Mason, who started in 14 games after returning from an injury in November, has also made a large impact from the bench. On Feb. 1 against South Alabama, Johnson switched up the team dynamic by taking Mason out of the starting lineup to come off the bench along with Benson. This led to the Bobcats winning four straight games.

This season, Mason is averaging 12.3 points per game, along with three rebounds and three assists per game, making him a force on the offensive end.

Although Mason started for much of the season, Johnson wanted to adjust the lineup in order to help the team win. Mason accepted what was asked of him as he is willing to do whatever it takes for his teammates and team to win, he said.

“[Coach Johnson] told me that he was going to try a different approach,” Mason said. “We had lost some games, and he was going to bring me off the bench and I was obviously welcome to the role. It wasn’t a big deal for me. I loved seeing my teammates succeed and I love succeeding myself.”

Mason and Benson were coming off the bench together over that four-game winning stretch, and they enjoyed bringing a spark into the game when they did. It also helps them not be as fatigued when they are not playing right away, according to Mason.

“It’s good to come off the bench,” Mason said. “Me and Coleton come off [the bench] and bring the energy… We kind of pick it up because I feel like when I was starting, I died out after a while getting tired, so coming off the bench making sure I bring energy is good for the team.”

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