Weekend losses push State down to sixth in conference

Men's College Basketball

This weekend proved costly.

Saturday morning, Texas State was potentially looking at a chance to move to a top seed in the Sun Belt standings. 

The Bobcats were sitting a half-game back from three teams tied for second place and were within reach of UT Arlington in first. Saturday’s loss to Georgia Southern put aspirations of a top-seed on hold, but a win Monday night over Georgia State would keep them in range. Instead, the Bobcats lost Monday’s contest in Atlanta, 71-63, and in typical fashion of this season’s sporadic Sun Belt standings, Texas State now sits tied for sixth. With four games remaining in the regular season, the chance to move into a top-four seed is out of the Bobcats’ control.

After Marlin Davis’ 3-pointer around the 12-minute mark in the second half, Georgia State rattled off an 8-0 run that  created a margin Texas State couldn’t bust the remainder of the game. Against Ron Hunter’s 1-3-1 matchup zone, the Bobcats shot just 36 percent in the first half, but held the Panthers to 40.9 percent shooting. Just before the end of the first half, Georgia State’s Malik Benlevi grabbed the lead on a 3-pointer and during the second half, the Panthers opened the floodgates on offense and, led by leading scorers Jeremy Hollowell and D’Marcus Simonds, poured on 43 points on nearly 70 percent shooting. Texas State went into the locker room down just 24-22 with senior forward Kavin Gilder-Tilbury being held scoreless in the first half.

“This was a very disappointing finish to a game that we were competing in for the first 30 minutes,” head coach Danny Kaspar said. “We have to come together and get back to our winning ways that we showed before coming on this road trip.

Texas State hadn’t endured back-to-back losses since November 21 and 25 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and UTSA. Georgia State sliced through the Bobcats’ defense, predicated on shutting down penetration, for 32 points in the paint and the hosts’ bench outscored Texas State’s 25-7.

As for the Freshman of the Year race that played out simultaneously, Simonds finished with 18 points and three rebounds on 7-of-11 shooting while Nijal Pearson finished with 17 points and five rebounds also on 7-of-11 shooting.

This was the first time all season that Texas State allowed over 43 percent shooting in back-to-back games. Both Georgia schools shot over 50 percent from the floor. Gilder-Tilbury was held to a rare low-point total with just 12 (all in the second half) and senior guard Ojai Black finished with 10 (eight in the first half). Now Texas State is one and a half games back from the fourth seed (Georgia Southern and Georgia State) with no games on the schedule against the teams ranked above them in the conference standings.

Texas State returns for its final home stand of the season Saturday against Troy and Monday night against South Alabama on senior night.

San Marcos Daily Record

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