by Kyle Spencer
Strahan Coliseum was packed last night for another edition of the I-35 rivalry. UTSA came into the game with one win, and they would leave San Marcos with the same amount. Texas State took control of this game early and never looked back. The Roadrunners simply could not find an answer for the intense style of defense coach Kasper had the Bobcats playing. Ultimately holding the Roadrunner’s leading scorer, Ryan Bowie, to 11 points on 5-11 shooting. Anthony Roberson stayed on his hip most of the game and denied Bowie the ball at every opportunity. This put pressure on other players from UTSA to points on the board, and none of them could deliver. Texas State not only defended well, they controlled the glass and created multiple turnovers. Ethan Montalvo was all over the court last night and ended up tieing the Texas State record for steals in a game with 8.
Most of the scoring for Texas State came off of those turnovers. 29 of the Bobcat’s 76 points came off of turnovers. Another big key offensively was their ability to get into the paint. Over half of the team’s points came from underneath the free throw line. So far this season Texas State has done a great job establishing the paint, being able to not only get buckets down low, but also set a tone on the defensive end. Early in the season this team fell in love with the 3 ball, but it seems Kasper has really drilled these players about getting down into the restricted area. Another good sign for an offense that struggled last year is their assist numbers. The ball is moving and the players seem unselfish. When UTSA dropped back into a 2-3 zone the Bobcats seemed confident and found open gaps in the zone. Last season this team would have swung the ball back and forth on one side with no clear motive. This year we are seeing a team that wants to attack hard and get to the rim.
Emani Gant led the way last night with 16. Kavin Tilbury was right behind him with 15. After that 2 other Bobcats were sitting in double figures, Anthony Roberson and Cameron Naylor.
Emani is their workhorse and will continue to put up numbers, but Tilbury has really came into his own. Kavin is averaging around 13 points a game, 5.5 rebounds and about 3 assists. On top of that he is a solid defender on the wing and can even bang a little down low. Look for him to get his shooting percentage up later on in the season while he continues to grow into the role as a go-to option for the Bobcat’s.
This is a fun team to watch. They don’t run a lot of fast break options, but they play a hard nosed style of defense and don’t mind getting in the opponent’s face. It seems Kasper has finally instilled that no-nonsense attitude within in his players and they have responded well. Texas State will be headed to the coast in their next match-up with Texas A&M Coprus Christi, but return home December 12th to tip off against UT Rio Grande Valley.