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February looms large as Bobcats prepare for UT Arlington

Texas State Men's Basketball
Thursday, January 31, 2019

Texas State got drunk off its own success, head coach Danny Kaspar claims. 

The Bobcats were riding a major high after picking up what Kaspar described as one of the program’s biggest Sun Belt wins on Jan. 24 over Georgia State. But after its worst performance of the season, Texas State stumbled out of Hanner Fieldhouse in Statesboro, Ga. with a 74-58 loss to Georgia Southern on Jan. 26. 

“I think we were intoxicated with our success against Georgia State,” Kaspar said. “We never came down off that high.”

Added junior guard Nijal Pearson: “I wouldn’t say we were our best selves that day. I take some of the blame on that as a player, as a captain on the team. I don’t feel like as a team, I don’t feel we were locked in and focused enough to win that game.” 

Texas State (17-4, 6-2 Sun Belt) returns to San Marcos in the same spot it was when it left for Georgia — In a tie for first place in the conference with Georgia State. 

The Bobcats have high aspirations after their strong start to the season. A soothsayer would tell Texas State to beware the ides of March (and its Madness). For the Bobcats, however, it’s beware the ides of February.

To get to March, Texas State will have to fight through February 

Texas State saw itself in a similar situation last season after beginning conference play with a 7-3 record through January. The Bobcats lost their first two games of February against Coastal Carolina and App State, which began a down slide. Texas State ended the regular season on a nine-game losing streak. 

“You don’t understand how a season can turn like that, especially if you lose,” Kaspar said. “Two heartbreaking losses in a row, and then we had to play Tre (Nottingham) so much and it wore him down. We really played without a point guard last year. I don’t think we’ll have that problem this year.

“... I’ve seen it so many times, it really takes a really, really good team to be good from beginning to end.”

The Bobcats begin their February slate against UT Arlington on Saturday at 4 p.m. inside Strahan Arena. 

The Mavericks enter Saturday’s matchup on a hot streak. They’ve won five out of their last six games. 

Although UTA ranks last in the Sun Belt in scoring offense, Kaspar believes the Mavericks are a dangerous squad. 

“They’re playing very hard,” Kaspar said. “They’ve been playing pretty good defense and they’ve just been playing with great intensity on both ends, and you’ve got to match that intensity … They have two guards that are scoring quite a bit of points for them. But they do have some other players that can jump up there and have some good games also. They’re not just a two-man team. But we have to control their perimeter. That’s the most dangerous part of their team is their perimeter scoring.” 

Those two guards Kaspar mentions — redshirt junior Edric Dennis and junior Brian Warren — average 15.2 and 13.7 points per game, respectively. 

UTA enters the game ranked No. 3 in the conference in scoring defense, while Texas State is still No. 1. 

While February’s schedule looms and the Bobcats are reeling off of a disappointing loss, Texas State doesn’t plan to change its mindset going forward. The Bobcats are focused on Saturday’s contest. 

“We’re right back at it,” Pearson said. “We’re in the same spot. We didn’t go anywhere We didn’t go up. So, I mean, I say if you’re at the top and you don’t go down, it’s still not bad. We’re staying focused. We’re focusing on UTA. We’re trying to get better. Just trying to work harder. Just become the best team we can. 

“Right now, we’re kind of focusing, even though we’re 17-4 and in first place in conference, there’s a lot of basketball to be played. There’s a lot of games left. So, we’re just taking one game at a time. Try to stay focused on the team in front us and just try to get better as a team.”

San Marcos Record

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