James Jordan II
The Texas State Bobcats men’s basketball team are coming off two huge Sun Belt Conference wins within a three-day span thanks to the clutch shooting of senior Kavin Gilder-Tilbury.
Saturday night, the Bobcats faced Little Rock in a Sun Belt Conference match-up with a chance to gain some ground on moving into first place within the conference. With the Bobcats up by four points with less than two minutes left to play in the game, Gilder-Tilbury receives an inbound pass with the shot clock running out, he takes two dribbles and heaves up a three-pointer that hits nothing but net as Strahan Coliseum erupts with excitement. That shot gave the Bobcats a seven-point lead and eventually sealed a 56-49 victory.
The Bobcats prepared to take on another team from the state of Arkansas on Monday night, when the Arkansas State Red Wolves came to Strahan Coliseum. Similar ball game, similar situation, similar circumstances. Bobcats up by two points with less than two minutes to play, Gilder-Tilbury receives an inbound pass with the shot clock running out, he pulls up to shoot–but this time the ball banks in from three-point land from the exact spot he made his clutch shot in Saturday’s game. Texas State went up by five and eventually beat Arkansas State 62-58. Déjà vu.
The lights are bright and everyone is watching, but Gilder-Tilbury isn’t the one to shy away from the big stage or the big moment. He actually wants to be the man for the situation if it comes down to it.
“I ain’t going to lie, I want the ball,” Gilder-Tilbury said, after finishing his night with 21 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. “I’m just shooting with no conscience and it’s going in.”
Coach Kaspar was pleased with the team’s defense throughout the past few games, even though their offensive game hasn’t been pretty at times. But even Coach Kaspar couldn’t help but notice Gilder-Tilbury has been the go-to guy in clutch moments during his time playing for the Bobcats.
“He has been that way for the last two years, to a point where I have to tell him sometimes ‘you have to pass it too.’ He does want to take the last shot, and we’re fine with that… I think he would rather have it in hands rather than anybody else,” Kaspar said. “I guess those prayers at night are helpful.”
The Bobcats were projected to finish last in the preseason polls for the Sun Belt Conference, but after winning five out of their last six games, they are only a game back of first place with a record of 8-4 in conference play.
With six games left until the Sun Belt Conference tournament, the Bobcats are gaining the momentum they need to prove the doubters wrong and place themselves atop of the conference.
“Why not us?” Gilder-Tilbury said. “Just take it one game at a time and anything is possible.”
Next up for the Texas State is a road trip to Georgia, where they will take on Georgia Southern on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Georgia State on Monday at 6 p.m.
Featured image by Eddie Lerma.