UTSA’s 31-point lead in the first half proved to be too much to overcome in the second half for men’s basketball Saturday, as the Bobcats fell 73-62.
The 46-20, 26-point deficit marked the largest halftime deficit for the Bobcats this year. The performance was evident from the nine total rebounds posted by the Bobcats, compared to the nine offensive rebounds by the Roadrunners and 25 total boards.
“That’s the worst half of basketball I’ve ever seen,” said Coach Doug Davalos. “They whipped our butts in the first half. I’ve coached almost 20 years, and I’ve never seen a team that has zero offensive rebounds in a half. You’d think you could luck into (an offensive rebound) if you just stepped into the lane.”
It took the Bobcats 12 minutes to score 10 points. Texas State trailed 30-10 with 6 minutes left in the half. The Roadrunners were led by senior guard Kannon Burrage and junior forward Jeromie Hill with 13 and 15 points, respectively The Roadrunners left Texas State behind by exploiting defensive flaws. UTSA thrived off of 18 points in the paint, (Texas State had 4), 15 second-chance points (Texas State had 0) and 11 points off of turnovers (Texas State had 2). UTSA capitalized on a 54.5 percent shooting performance, while Texas State shot 31.8 percent from the field.
“We were making shots, getting layups and some open 3 (pointer)s,” said UTSA Coach Brooks Thompson. “But I felt like the zone affected Texas State. When we jumped into that lead, they started taking some lower percentage shots to try and get back in the game. We came out today and played really, really well.”
Texas State opened the second half with a 12-3 run led by Staff, who scored 14 points and collected 11 boards in the second half alone.
“We knew at halftime that Texas State wasn’t going to come out in the second half and fold,” Thompson said. “We knew they were going to come out, and (Davalos) was going to have them ready. They were going to make a run at us, and they sure did, which is good because our guys had to face some adversity during the second half.”
Texas State went to a triangle and two, with the two players covering Hill and Burrage man to man. The change in defense held the duo to only 2 points during the entire second half. Senior guard Michael Hale III injured his shoulder in the first half and shot 2-9 from the floor and finished with 13 points.
Staff finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds while Phil Hawkins and Joel Wright added 13 points each.
UTSA’s Burrage led the Roadrunners, ending his final Interstate 35 rivalry game with 15 points and 7 rebounds.
“Oh yeah, this feels real special,” Burrage said. “Coming into our rival’s home court and getting a win. Our energy and rebounding got us to the big lead at half. Coach told us if we out rebounded them we’d win the game.”
UTSA is the only team in the WAC with three players in the top 10 in scoring, Burrage in first with 17.6, Hale in fourth with 16 and Hill in ninth with 12.5 points per game. Hale was ranked in the top 10 in eight different statistical categories in the WAC going into the 55th I-35 game. He played 39 minutes in the game.
“He’s a warrior—there’s no doubt,” Thompson said. “His size and stature doesn’t show what’s inside his heart. No doubt about it. He’s a winner. He wasn’t going to let this game get away … He’s a stud.”
The I-35 series has been decided by 5 points or less in four of the last five meetings. This will be the last conference meeting between the longstanding foes. The Bobcats are moving to the Sun Belt conference next year while UTSA will enter Conference USA for the 2013-2014 season.