Texas State men’s basketball (3-2) lost 74-53 to the No. 13 University of Texas Longhorns (5-1) Dec. 9 in Austin.
Going into the game, the Longhorns were the heavy favorites, but the Bobcats managed to hold on for the better part of the game until UT pulled away midway through the second half.
After senior forward Jericho Sims started the game with a dunk for the Longhorns, senior guard Matt Coleman III stole the ball from Texas State’s junior guard Mason Harrell leading to a thunderous jam by freshman forward Greg Brown, which put UT up 4-0. Harrell would respond with a catch and shoot three from the left-wing a minute later to make the score 4-3.
UT would extend its lead to 12-3 before the Bobcats scored five straight to close the gap to 12-8, capped off with a three-pointer by Harrell with 12:01 left in the first half.
The upperclassmen guards would continue to battle throughout the first half. With 10:09 left in the half, Coleman III got past Harrell and scored a layup off a dribble spin move to put UT up 16-10.
Despite going down early in the opening half, the Bobcats continuously put pressure on the Longhorns as Interim Head Coach Terrence “TJ” Johnson and the ‘Cats were only outscored by four points in the final 15 minutes. The Bobcats closed the first half down 33-20.
The Bobcats’ issues with length and lack of rim protection were evident in the first half. Sophomore forward Kai Jones was one beneficiary of this issue, as he had three dunks in the first half to go along with two blocks and one steal.
The Longhorns' defensive philosophy was to pressure the ball handlers coming off screens and pick them up early with a full-court press. UT continued that strategy from the first minute to the final buzzer.
Texas State started out the first half shooting 9-32 from the field and 2-9 from deep, an issue that carried on into the second half. This lack of efficiency from behind the arc is something that concerned Johnson, as the Bobcats ended the game shooting only 18% from deep.
"We could not find the three-ball tonight,” Johnson said. “We tried to drive sometimes and made some things happen, but we did not get as many clean looks as we had hoped."
Harrell started the second half by attacking the basket to cut the Longhorns lead down to 33-22.
UT’s junior guard Courtney Ramey scored four straight, leading to the largest deficit at that time for the 'Cats at 38-22. Junior forward Alonzo Sule, who struggled against the size and strength of UT in the first, scored six straight for the Bobcats to cut the Longhorns’ lead down to 40-28 with 15:21 left in the game.
A 6-1 run by Texas State cut the UT lead down to 43-36 with under 12 minutes left. A visibly agitated Head Coach Shaka Smart called a full-timeout, determined to turn the Longhorns around.
After a Coleman III three-point jumper that put the Longhorns back up by 10, junior forward Nighael Ceaser and senior forward Isiah Small led the offensive charge to conclude a 16-6 run by the Bobcats and cut the deficit to 46-39 with 9:46 left in the game.
Texas State struggled to put together any significant scoring runs. On the other end, Brown scored 15 of the Longhorns' final 22 points, which sealed the game 74-53 in favor of UT.
For the game, the Longhorns shot 43.9% (25-57, 7-22 three-pointers). Texas State shot 36.1% (22-61, 2-11 three-pointers).
UT forced 16 turnovers by Texas State, leading to 23 points. On the other end, Texas State forced 14 turnovers but only scored four points off of them.
Brown went 3-3 from deep down the stretch, finally finding his stroke from beyond the arc. Going into the game he was averaged only 0.4 made threes per game while shooting less than 15%. Brown was happy to finally find his shot from beyond the arc.
"It's been a kind of a struggle for me on the offensive end," Brown said. "But what I'm trying to keep learning is just how to play with pace, play [of] off my teammates and help the game slow down for me.”
Brown finished with 18 points (7-14, 3-7 three-pointers) to go with three blocks. Following Brown was junior guard Andrew Jones (3-7, 1-5 three-pointers) and Ramey (3-7, 1-2 three-pointers) with 11 points each.
Sims had a game-high nine rebounds (five offensive). Andrew Jones was second on the team with six, followed by Ramey with five.
Coleman III and Ramey had a game-high six assists apiece. Coleman III finished with two steals.
For Texas State, Harrell finished with 14 points (5-14, 2-4 three-pointers), followed by Small (4-8) and senior guard Shelby Adams (4-7) with eight.
Small led the Bobcats with six rebounds; Harrell and Adams each finished with four.
Texas State will look to rebound at home against Our Lady of the Lake University at 4 p.m. on Dec. 12.