San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 9th, 2009
Bobcats to open league slate with hot hand


With hopes of at least qualifying for the Southland Conference Tournament, the Texas State men’s basketball team is lining up prosperously entering Saturday’s league opener at home against Texas-Arlington, which won last year’s conference tournament.

The Bobcats have won four straight games, all at home, raising their record to 7-6. The last of those, an 82-59 win against Northern Colorado at Strahan Coliseum Tuesday night, avenged a 105-93 loss at Northern Colorado on Nov. 29.

“This was a great team win for us,” Texas State coach Doug Davalos said after Tuesday night’s win. “We went out, attacked them defensively and the results speak for themselves.”

Similar results have spoken often for the Bobcats, who have clearly ratcheted up their defensive work. After allowing 84.8 points per game last year, the worst such mark among Southland teams, the Bobcats are allowing 78.6 points per game entering today’s 4 p.m. tip to start the league season. Meanwhile, the Bobcats have increased their scoring average from 83.6 points per game last season to 90.4 points per game this year, ranking third in the country.

Tuesday night’s victory also marked the second straight time the Bobcats have held opponents to fewer than 60 points. Texas State has kept opponents to fewer than 70 points six times, winning all of those games. Last year, the Bobcats held only one opponent to fewer than 70 points all year.

The Bobcats also have a bit of offense working, ranking fifth nationally in three-point shooting by making 40.8 percent (116 of 284). Senior guard Brent Benson rates eighth nationally in three-point percentage at 51 percent (52 of 104). Benson also is fifth in the nation with 4.1 three-point goals per game.

Behind Benson, the Bobcats have topped 100 points three times and 90 points four other times. Their 112-70 win against McMurry on Dec. 30 set a school scoring record.

Of Texas State’s six defeats this year, four have come by a combined 19 points, including losses by four points to New Orleans, eight points to Texas, six points to Rice and one point to Wyoming.

Senior swingman Brandon Bush is scoring 14.6 points per game and leading the Bobcats with an average of 6.5 rebounds. Cameron Johnson has rallied lately, bringing his season averages up to 10.4 points and 4.5 rebounds, while transfer John Rybak is averaging 9.8 points and 4.2 rebounds. Sophomore center Ty Gough averages 5.0 rebounds and 6.2 points.

Texas-Arlington entered last year’s conference tournament as an underdog and emerged as a surprise winner. UTA features three of the Southland Conference’s top eight scorers. Senior forward Anthony Vereen averages 16.3 points (fifth in the league), while junior guards Brandon Long and Marquez Haynes are tied for seventh at 15.3 points.

UTA is 7-6 overall, including three straight wins.

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