TIPPING OFFThe Texas State men’s basketball team will face its toughest challenge of the 2008-09 season when the Bobcats travel to Austin, Texas and play sixth-ranked Texas in a non-conference game this Saturday, Dec. 13 in a regionally-televised game that tips off at Noon in the Erwin Center.
Texas State enters the game with a 3-4 record after suffering a 100-94 loss at Rice last Saturday afternoon. The loss came after the Bobcats won their second home game of the season with a 110-65 victory over Southwest Assemblies.
Texas enters the game with a 6-1 record after beating No. 12 ranked Villanova 67-58 last Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Longhorns are 4-0 in home games this season after defeating Stetson 68-38 on Nov. 14, Tulane 76-51 on Nov. 18, Rice 77-56 on Nov. 30 and UCLA 68-64 on Dec. 4. Texas enters Saturday’s game with a four-game winning streak after beating Oregon 70-57 in the EA Sports Maui Invitational on Nov. 26, Rice, UCLA and Villanova. Texas opened the Maui Invitational with a 68-50 victory against St. Joseph before suffering an 81-80 loss against Notre Dame in the second round of the tournament.
SCOUTING TEXAS STATE
Texas State looks to win its first road game of the season when the Bobcats travel to Texas on Saturday. In addition to the loss at Rice, the Bobcats also suffered a 97-96 loss at Wyoming on Nov. 26 and a 105-93 at Northern Colorado on Nov. 29 in their first two road games of the season. Texas State opened the season with a 76-66 victory over Cal State Fullerton in the opening round of the Verizon Tip-Off Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii on Nov. 14. The Bobcats suffered an 88-74 loss to San Francisco in the second round of the tournament before beating Huston-Tillotson 104-81 in their first home game of the season on Nov. 19.
The Bobcats are led by senior guards Brent Benson, who is averaging 19.3 points per game, and Brandon Bush who averages 13.3 points and leads the team in rebounding with a 6.0 average. John Rybak also averaged 11.4 points per game and leads the Southland Conference in free throw shooting after making all 15 of his free throws this season.
Sophomore forward Cameron Johnson averages 7.9 points and 3.8 rebounds, while junior college transfer Emmanuel Bidias A’ Moute adds 7.6 points per game and sophomore center Ty Gough chips in with 5.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest.
LAST TIME OUT
Despite a career-best performance by junior guard John Rybak, Texas State could not get some key stops down the stretch and suffered a 100-94 loss at Rice in the Tudor Field House. Rybak finished the game with career-highs of 32 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bobcats. Senior guard Brent Benson added 17 points and Brandon Bush added 16 points despite being limited to 22 minutes of playing time due to foul trouble.
Rybak kept Texas State in the game single-handedly in the first half as he scored 24 points in the first half as the Bobcats trailed by six at halftime, 50-44. Dylan Moseley started the second half for Bush who had three fouls in the opening period and made a pair of three-point shots to pull Texas State to within 54-52.
After Lucas Kuipers tipped in a missed jumper by Trey Stanton to give the Owls a 56-52 lead, Texas State scored four straight points on lay-ups by Rybak and Cameron Johnson, who finished the game with nine points, to tie the score at 56-56 with 15:45 remaining to play.
The Bobcats tied the score again with 9:52 left to play when Bush hit a lay-up to make the score 69-69. But, this time, the Owls answered with three-straight three-point field goals and a pair of free throws to take the lead and never looked back. Cory Pflieger hit the first trey from the right wing. Then, Rodney Foster added a three-point shot from the top of the key and Pflieger added a trey from the left wing to put the game out of reach. Lawrence Ghorum capped a run with a pair of free throws and give the Owls a 77-66 lead with 8:02 left to play.
The Bobcats fought back to pull within 89-85 with 2:44 left to play, but couldn’t get any closer than within four points the rest of the way as Rodney Foster closed the game hitting six straight free throws down the stretch to preserve the win for the Owls. The Owls were led by Pflieger’s 28 points. Foster added 21 points, while Bryan Beasley and Ghorum added 13 points each.
This marks the fifth straight year that Texas State has played Texas in the Erwin Center. The Bobcats enter Saturday’s game with a 5-37 series record against the Longhorns. The last win for the Bobcats came 1938 when Texas State won 33-31. Since then, Texas State has suffered 18 straight losses against Texas, including a 96-81 setback last season.
TEXAS STATE AT TEXAS IN 2007-08
Brent Benson came off the bench to score 15 points and Brandon Thomas added 10 points and 10 rebounds to help Texas State go toe-to-toe with the fourth-ranked Longhorns before falling 96-81 in the Erwin Center on Dec. 15. Four Bobcats scored in double figures as Corey Jefferson added 14 points and Dylan Moseley scored 12 points for Texas State.
The Bobcats opened the game scoring the game’s first five points and led 12-6 early in the first half for its biggest lead of the night. Texas took its first lead midway through the first half when D.J. Augustin made a free throw with 10:15 left in the opening period to give the Longhorns a 16-15 advantage. Both teams fought back and forth the rest of the half that featured four ties and 11 lead changes. The last lead change came with 2:10 left in the opening period after Moseley hit a three-pointer to give 37-36 lead. Texas answered with six straight points on a dunk by Connor Atchley and a pair of baskets by Augustin. Benson nailed a three-pointer in the final seconds to make the halftime score 42-40.
After Thomas made a lay-up for Texas State to make the score 46-44, Texas used a 10-2 run to take a 56-46 advantage. Texas State fought back again when Corey Jefferson nailed a jumper to start a 10-2 run for the Bobcats and pull them to within 66-60 with 11:43 left to play. Brandon Bush capped the run with a jumper, but that was as close as Texas State could get the rest of the way.
Texas opened up an 86-65 lead before the Bobcats used a 16-5 run to close the deficit to 91-81 with 1:47 left to play. But, the Longhorns scored the final five points of the game.
Atchley led Texas with 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Augustin scored 24 points, including 17 in the second half. A.J. Abrams also netted 20 for the Longhorns.
SCOUTING THE LONGHORNS
Texas enters its 11th season under head coach Rick Barnes and returns four starters and nine of its top 10 scoring leaders from last year’s team that advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament and posted a 31-7 record.
Heading the list of returning players is senior guard A.J. Abrams, junior swingman Damion James and fifth-year senior forward-center Connor Atchley. Abrams leads the Longhorns in scoring this season with 19.0 points per game, while James is averaging 14.5 points and a team-best 8.4 rebounds. Sophomore forward Gary Johnson is the top reserve with a 9.9 scoring average, while junior guard Justin Mason chips in with 8.4 points and Atchley averages 7.1 points and 4.0 rebounds per contest.
Following the Texas game, Texas State returns home to begin a six-game home stand against New Orleans on Dec. 15. The Bobcats will also play host to Prairie View A&M on Dec. 21, McMurry on Dec. 30, Schreiner on Jan. 3, Northern Colorado on Jan. 6 before opening their 2008-09 Southland Conference schedule against UT-Arlington on Jan. 10.
by Rick Poulter
Texas State Athletics