Texas State will face Louisiana Tech University, the top dogs of the WAC, this weekend. The Bulldogs recently surpassed last year’s national champion in the Top 25 poll race.
The Bobcats travel to Arlington Thursday, and Saturday will reach Ruston, La. Texas State lost its last six games at home but has won three straight on the road.“On the road, it’s different,” said junior forward Joel Wright. “We know we are all we got. We are the only ones that we have to worry about. When we are at home, I think there is a lot on our minds. We are focused this week, ready to go on the road and get back two games.”
After the Bulldogs’ (19-3, 10-0 in WAC) recent 64-51 victory over the University of Texas-Arlington, Louisiana Tech received 16 points in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. This placed Louisiana Tech at No. 33, just ahead of Kentucky, last year’s National Champion.
Votes from 65 distinguished sportswriters and broadcasters from throughout the nation comprise the AP Top 25 college basketball poll. The Bulldogs crept into 10th place in the CollegeInsider.com Men’s Mid-Major Top 25 poll.
“They are an up-tempo team, and their pressure makes them a good team,” said Coach Doug Davalos. “They create turnovers, and there are more shots per game when you play them. They beat you with numbers. They are such a good system and 1-10 all contribute.”
During the UT-Arlington game, the Bulldogs forced 20 turnovers that contributed to 20 points. The game was the ninth time the Bulldogs have forced 20 turnovers this season. Louisiana Tech leads conference play with 8.3 steals per game. It has accumulated 191 steals on the season.
Louisiana Tech extended its win streak to 11 games, the longest winning streak since 1985 for the Bulldogs. The team has won 13 straight games at Thomas Assembly Center, which dates back to Jan. 28, 2012.
Louisiana Tech is currently one of 14 teams with at least 19 wins in NCAA Division I Basketball.
However, it is unusual that Louisiana Tech has a 9.1 scoring margin over its opponents (first in the WAC). It manages to score 72.1 points per game (first in the WAC) while only shooting .397 from the floor (eighth in the conference). The Bobcats fell 84-67, though Wright produced 24 points and seven rebounds, in Texas State’s last game versus Louisiana Tech.
“We know we should have beat them when we were at home,” said sophomore guard Wesley Davis. “We were down by four with a couple minutes left, but we just let it go.”
The Bulldogs dominated the battle of the boards, led by guard Kenneth Smith who tallied 10, taking a 54-37 advantage. Louisiana Tech accounted for 19 total offensive rebounds, which were attributed to the double-digit lead going into the half and 23 total second-chance points.
The first-half struggles were evident for Texas State, shooting 29.4 percent from the field. The Bobcats’ resiliency manifested itself during the second half, converting 60.7 percent of their shots from the floor. Texas State matched Louisiana Tech at 46 points for the second half. Davis and Deonte’ Jones finished with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
“You’ve got to play a complete 40 minutes against them,” Davalos said. “If you get down to them, they will let you back in the game. If you get up on them, they’ll get back in the game.”
The past UT-Arlington game at Strahan Coliseum featured 24 combined 3-pointers. Wright tallied 24 points shooting 4-4 from beyond the arc. Deonte’ Jones finished with 21, converting 5-9 from behind the 3-point line. Feb. 15, 2011 was the last time two Bobcats scored over 20 points in a single game. The 12 3-pointers for the Bobcats became a then-high season record.
The Mavericks got production from all five starters, each scoring in double figures. Forward Karol Gruszecki led the charge with a career-high 23 points. The figure included seven 3-pointers. Forward Kevin Butler has 15 points. Forward Brandon Edwards posted a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds. Forward Jordan Reves and guard Cameron Catlett each added 11 points.
UT-Arlington went on a 10-0 run with 4 minutes to go during play. Texas State couldn’t get a basket, going 2-7 from the field over the final minutes to cement a 91-74 loss. The most the Bobcats have given up during conference play is 91 points. UT-Arlington is 5-5 in the WAC.