The Texas State men’s basketball team got to file one in the non-existent moral victory drawer Saturday afternoon after giving sixth-ranked Texas all it could handle at the Erwin Center in Austin.
Though the Longhorns walked away with an 81-73 win, the Bobcats walked away with the better opinion of their own performance. The Bobcats outrebounded the Longhorns (46-42), outshot them (40.9 percent to 35.9 percent) and scored more from the bench (42-13), even if that last one is a bit of a fabrication.
“I am extremely proud of our team and, like I said all along, we have a really good team,” said Texas State head coach Doug Davalos whose team is 3-5 entering a Monday night game against New Orleans at Strahan Coliseum. “There are a lot of positives that we can take from this game.”
But the Bobcats couldn’t keep lids on 6-10 center Dexter Pittman or senior scoring guard A.J. Abrams, who each took turns turning back Texas State rallies.
Six straight points by Pittman, including a three-point play, extended a Texas lead to 61-54 in the second half. Pittman finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Abrams stole the ball and pulled up for a three-pointer to give Texas a 70-63 lead, then made six straight free throws down the stretch. Abrams finished with 30 points.
Texas State took its final lead at 50-49 on a reverse layup for sophomore forward Cameron Johnson, who scored 24 in his first start. Another Johnson layup brought the Bobcats within 65-63 with five minutes remaining. Then Abrams took over, scoring his first bucket of the second half with 4:45 left to make the Texas lead 67-63, then hitting his three off the steal.
Texas State coach Doug Davalos worked a different starting lineup against Texas, putting top scorer Brent Benson and star swingman Brandon Bush on the bench to start Johnson and freshman guard John Bowman. But the two seniors entered quickly as Benson scored 14 of Texas State’s 18 points on his way to 18 for the night. Bush scored 13 points with nine rebounds.