Texas State will travel to the Jack Stephens Center tonight at 7 p.m. to face the Arkansas—Little Rock Trojans for the second time this season.
The Bobcats won the first matchup in San Marcos, limiting the Trojans to 35 points and 29 percent shooting. UALR is seventh in the Sun Belt Conference with a 3–3 record. The Trojans have not finished lower than second in the last six seasons. They are 90–22 in the conference since the 2007–08 season.
“They are a tough team,” said Coach Zenarae Antoine. “For whatever reason, they haven’t been as good as they usually are so far, but they are still one of the better teams in the conference.”
UALR is allowing 55.6 points per game, the 13th lowest mark in Division I. The Trojans lead the Sun Belt in field goal percentage defense and 3-point defense.
“They can defend with the best of them,” Antoine said. “They do a very good job limiting high-percentage shots and protecting the paint. We are going to have to work really hard for good shots against them.”
The Trojans received six first place votes in the Sun Belt preseason coaches’ poll. The Trojans were the top-ranked team with 95 points, 3 points ahead of second-ranked Western Kentucky.
“I haven’t looked at their previous seasons, but they still look good on paper this year, despite their record,” Antoine said. “We beat them the first time, but they closed the game very well. I anticipate another close game.”
During the first matchup, Texas State scored 18 points in the second half, and the Trojans trimmed the 12-point deficit to 7. UALR was within 4 points with six minutes remaining, but the Bobcats finished on an 8–5 run.
Junior guard Taylor Gault, a Sun Belt preseason first-team selection, is averaging 13.8 points per game, ranking seventh in the conference. Senior guard Taylor Ford is averaging 9 points per game, fourth on the team.
Gault and Ford combined for 3 points and 1 of 16 shooting against Texas State. It was Gault’s third scoreless game in her three-year career.
Texas State is 3–2 in the conference. They are one-and-half games behind Sun Belt leader Arkansas State with 13 conference games remaining.
Antoine replaced sophomore guard Ayriel Anderson with junior guard Meghan Braeuer in the starting lineup. Braeuer is averaging 7.8 points as a starter and 2.8 points off the bench.
Texas State is 2–1 since the lineup change.
“(Braeuer) has done a phenomenal job for us,” Antoine said. “Kaylan Martin has been our sole leader. She’s been steady in the classroom and on the basketball court. We recruited (Braeuer) for that same reason. It allows for our younger kids to make mistakes, and play through our hiccups when you have (Braeuer) and (Martin). Regardless of who we play, this is an area I’m really excited about.”