The Texas State men’s basketball team looks to avenge a 4 point loss suffered earlier in the season to Arkansas—Little Rock during their second matchup with the team tonight.
The Bobcats were down 60–58 in their last game Jan. 2 against the Trojans with less than 20 seconds left as senior forward Joel Wright drove down the lane. However, Wright was called for a charge, and ensuing free throws by the Trojans put the game out of reach for the Bobcats.
“We’ve come out of practice with a good game plan this week,” said sophomore forward Emani Gant. “I feel if we prepare right we should be able to beat them.”
Texas State was out-rebounded in that game 23–21, and 10 of the Trojans’ rebounds came on the offensive side of the ball.
The Bobcats have the best scoring defense in the Sun Belt Conference allowing 66.3 points per game. The team will have to matchup against the sixth leading scorer in the conference, 6-foot-10-inch senior forward Will Neighbour.
Neighbour averages 17.8 points a game along with 7.2 rebounds per game. Neighbour has the third best field goal percentage shooting 52 percent and averaging 32 minutes of playing time per game. He scored a team-high 20 points along with two blocks and two steals in the first matchup against the Bobcats.
Texas State freshman guard Naiel Smith scored 7 points, bringing down four rebounds, dishing out four assists and stealing the ball three times in the previous matchup against UALR.
“We just need to get each other more involved,” Smith said. “We need to listen to coach and run our plays to pick up our offense.”
Smith is third on the team in steals despite only starting two games this season, and first in three-point percentage, shooting 40 percent.
“As a defense, we can get it done. We’ve been practicing really hard,” Smith said. “We just have some little flows in the offense, but we’ll pick it up.”
UALR sits second in the Sun Belt at 4–2 just behind 5–0 Georgia State. The Trojans have won games against UT—Arlington and defeated Western Kentucky in overtime.
“I myself need to produce on the offensive side,” Gant said. “And on defense I need to keep up and just help my teammates as much as I can”.
Gant shot 5–8 from the field and scored 11 points last game against UALR. The sophomore looks to rebound after playing only 19 minutes and scoring 2 points against the Mavericks.
“You saw a lot of guys get playing time that don’t normally play,” said Coach Danny Kaspar. “I’m going to continue to do that when I think players are not performing. That includes Joel Wright and Emani Gant who didn’t play a lot of minutes.”
Wright scored 10 points while shooting 3-4 from the field and hitting 4–7 free throws against UALR in the Jan. 2 matchup.
Texas State looks to improve its record against the Trojans as they are currently 1–3 all-time.