By Joshua Orozco
Take away everything about a basketball game and magnify it into its simplest form and the product will be two key aspects: winning the turnover battle and knocking down free throws. Texas State did just that in Thursday’s matchup against the Little Rock Trojans.
The Bobcats came out the gate fast and furious as the ‘Cats had one goal in mind: drive inside the paint early and often. With a push-the-pace mindset to start the game, the Bobcats were able to force turnovers from every which way. The Bobcats were able to exploit a Little Rock team who has been susceptible to turning the ball over, combining for 17 turnovers, matching their fourth most takeaway total as a team this season.
Alex Peacock exited the game nearly as quick as he entered as he was assessed two early fouls within the first five minutes of the game. Luckily for the ‘Cats, they were able to force just as many fouls against Little Rock throughout the entire game.
During the first half, the one true kryptonite of Texas State quickly struck the Bobcats: missed free throws. Texas State shot merely above 50 percent from the charity stripe during the first half of play. However, basketball is truly a game of two halves and this benefited Texas State in every which way. Whatever head coach Danny Kaspar preached at halftime definitely lit a fire under the team as evident from an 84 percent second half free throw shooting percentage.
Texas State came out in the second half ready to rack up points from downtown. Name a man as vicious as Tre Nottingham was last night in San Marcos and I guarantee you won’t be able to find anyone who could match his lethal-ness from the floor. Nottingham delivered right where it hurts Little Rock the most, behind the three-point line. Nottingham nearly matched his career-high with 24 points from 5-of-8 shooting beyond the arch as he lead the Bobcats in scoring.
With tonight’s victory, head coach Danny Kaspar ties Mike Jarvis (FAU) and Tic Price (UNO) with 41 Sun Belt Conference all-time wins. Coach Kaspar wasn’t the only one to have a career defining night as guard Nijal Pearson had himself another stellar shooting performance as he poured in 19 points on 50 percent shooting. After knocking down back-to-back treys towards the end of the first half, Strahan Arena erupted with the energy needed to swing the momentum the Bobcats way for the start of the second half. Pearson finished the game having moved up to ninth on Texas State Men’s Basketball all-time career scoring list with 1,299 career points.
After tonight’s win, the Texas State Bobcats move to 15-3 overall and 4-1 in the SBC. They look towards continuing their hard-nosed defense and second half free throw shooting from tonight’s game into their next Sun Belt Conference battle–against Arkansas State at Strahan this Saturday at 4 p.m.
Featured image by Texas State Athletics.