By Jason Harris
If you’re like me, when the men’s basketball schedule first came out, you took a look and saw 8 of the first 15 games of the season would be played in San Marcos. And if you’re decent at math you calculate that over fifty percent of those games would bring the Bobcats a home court advantage. Now I don’t know about you but that’s odds I like to see. However, if you took a closer look you’d find that the Bobcats would be opening Sun Belt competition on the road. For three straight games. Ugh.
The Bobcats would begin Sun Belt Conference play by traveling to Alabama to take on the Troy Trojans. Troy would enter the competition at 6-4 with two of those losses coming against Ole Miss and Georgia. They would also enter the game having scored 70 or more points in seven of those games. Then the brick wall that is the Bobcat defense would come to town. Led by the superb defensive effort of Wes Davis, Texas State would hold the Trojans to just 15 points in the first half. They would go on to defeat the Trojans 57-46. Ethan Montalvo would explode from beyond the arc, going 6-9 from three-point land and totaling 20 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Davis would chip in 13 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists to go along with his stellar defensive effort. The Bobcats would leave Alabama 1-0 in Sun Belt Conference play.
The next stop for Head Coach Danny Kaspar and the Bobcats would be Statesboro, Georgia for a Sun Belt match up against the Georgia Southern Eagles. The script would be flipped however as it was the Eagles who unleashed a defense that held the Bobcats to just 36 points, including a 15 point second half. The Bobcats would fall 40-36 behind a poor shooting performance that saw them make only 27% of their shots from the field and 15% from beyond the arc. Holding an opponent to just 40 points in normally a recipe for success… unless of course you go 12-40 from the field. After that tough loss, it would be a long two days for the Cats as they traveled to Atlanta for their next Conference match up against the Georgia State Panthers.
As the cliché goes, on paper this match-up seemed to heavily favor Georgia State. Led by Senior guard Ryan Harrow, who you will see NBA, the Panthers were widely picked by many to not just win the Sun Belt Conference but also run through it fairly easy. The Panthers entered this contest at 9-4 on the season and undefeated in conference play. After 40 minutes of gameplay against the Bobcats they would remain undefeated. After one overtime period they again would remain undefeated. After two OTs however, they would not.
The Bobcats brought down the conference favorites 77-74 in a thrilling double overtime victory. Led by an 18 point performance from Cam Naylor, the Bobcats would move to 8-4 on the season and more importantly, 2-1 in conference play. Emani Gant would chip in 17 points and 6 rebounds as five different Bobcats would end up scoring double digits. Texas State would shoot 43% from the field and 36% from range; a significant improvement over their last game against Georgia Southern. The aforementioned Harrow would get his though, going 11-22 from the field on route to a 29 point night.
The Bobcats are now in a tied for 4th place in the SBC with Georgia Southern as they now return home for a 3 game stand. Up first for the Cats is the UALR who enters with a record of 5-7 (0-2) followed by match-ups with UL Monroe and South Alabama. None of these teams currently have a winning record but I’ll caution you to remember that it’s just on paper. The next three games give the Cats the opportunity to climb the ladder in the Sun Belt Conference standings though you can bet that Coach Kaspar won’t be looking past any of these cellar-dwellers.
The Bobcats are off to a hot start early on in the 2014-15 season and have put the Sun Belt on notice; we will not be an easy victory. This is not last year’s team. This is Texas State basketball.