Men’s basketball will get its chance at revenge Saturday in the Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters game as the Bobcats face a team that dashed their playoff hopes last year.
Texas State will face the Lamar University Cardinals, who ended Texas State’s chances at the Southland Conference Tournament last year, while trying to secure its first win in February to end a five-game skid.
Lamar ended the Bobcats’ chance at postseason play last year with a 71-59 victory en route to its own March Madness run after winning the Southland crown.
That Cardinals team was led by four senior guards (Anthony Miles, Devon Lamb, Charlie Harper and Mike James) who all scored in the double-digits to end Texas State’s playoff run. But this year’s Lamar team entered the season with 8 underclassmen on a 12-man roster, and the Cardinals are currently riding a three-game losing streak with a 3-23 overall record.
“That’s called the cycle of coaching,” said Texas State Coach Doug Davalos. “They’ve got some young talented kids that are inexperienced. It’s a totally different team.”
This season, the Cardinals are averaging a Southland Conference-low 58.3 points-per-game and hold a minus-17.6 scoring margin against their opponents. Lamar’s offense makes 1.7 threes-per-game, the lowest of all 345 Division I basketball teams, and commits 18.7 turnovers per game.
“They were really good last year with all the seniors,” said Texas State senior forward Matt Staff. “They’re still a good team. Their record doesn’t show how well they’re playing. They’re really well coached, and they’ve been in a lot of games, just haven’t been able to finish.”
The players and coaches, with almost a full season in the WAC under their belts, have noticed a difference between their current conference and former Southland opponents. Texas State senior guard Vonn Jones said playing in the WAC has better prepared the Bobcats for facing Southland Conference teams such as Lamar.
“Last year, people (in the Southland) weren’t as athletic and strong as players from the WAC,” Jones said. “I feel like teams play with more discipline, and it’s a higher level of play.”
Most apparent was the overall athleticism and talent that comes off the bench. This will be a statement game for the Bobcats, showing the WAC that they belong in the conference and not in the Southland.
“There’s more size and more athleticism,” Davalos said. “The guard play is similar but what you notice is the physicality, athleticism and the size. You have really good players (from 10 players deep). That’s the quality of depth for most of these (WAC) programs.”