Bobcats prepare for 'do or die' matchup against the Trojans

Senior Sports Reporter

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Coach Danny Kaspar approached the Texas State men’s basketball team with two questions heading into a “do-or-die” matchup against the Troy Trojans.

Are the Bobcats mature enough? Do they have the character to rise to the occasion?

Troy is a half-game behind Texas State in the Sun Belt Conference standings. Both teams are battling to secure the seventh or eighth spot for the conference tournament in New Orleans.  

Kaspar believes two wins at home against Troy and Arkansas State may get Texas State into the conference tournament, but three wins would put the team in even better shape to secure an invitation.

“We dug ourselves a hole to where it’s do or die,” Kaspar said. “We have to come out here this week and get our two wins at home. Basically, we have to win these two at home because these are the teams we are competing with.  It’s a pressure situation. I’m going to be interested in how we respond having our backs to the wall like this.”

Kevin Thomas, Trojans senior forward, is second in the conference in offensive rebounding. Second-chance rebound opportunities allow Thomas to find Musa Abdul-Aleem, Trojans senior guard, and Wesley Person, Trojans freshman guard, to finish the offensive possession with a basket.

Halting the Trojans’ offensive rebounds will give the Bobcats the defensive edge. Thomas averages 8.1 rebounds per game this season.

Abdul-Aleem and Person are among the top ten scorers in the Sun Belt Conference. Abdul-Aleem averages 14.9 points a game. Person averages 14 points a game. Abdul-Aleem tallied 20 points against the Bobcats in the last meeting.

Kaspar relies on the team captains to prepare the players to shoot against Troy. Texas State defeated the Trojans 57-46 in Alabama this season. The Bobcats shot 42.9 percent from the field in the victory. However, they have failed to shoot over 35.8 percent in the past four games.

Ethan Montalvo, junior guard, and Wes Davis, senior guard, provided offense for the Bobcats in the victory against Troy. Montalvo had 20 points and six 3-pointers. Davis scored 13 points and had one 3-pointer.

“Ethan, DJ and Wes—those have been our three starters as guards,” Kaspar said. “And we’ve got to get some offensive production. Both Wes and Ethan gave us great games at Troy.”

The rest of the Bobcats have not shown signs of offensive production in recent matchups, which has resulted in the team’s four-game losing streak.

“It’s always harder to beat a team twice, but it’s on the line, and I think we are all ready,” Montalvo said. “Every player has their slump, whether it’s an inside post, point guard, doesn’t matter—it’s just about trying to get over it. And that’s when I lean on my teammates to give me the confidence that I need to get out of it.”

The Trojans will play a 1-3-1 zone in an effort to eliminate the offensive spark Emani Gant, junior forward, provides the Bobcats. Montalvo understands the team will rely on the backcourt to create shots because the Trojans will crowd the paint.

“We may play better away if that’s what (Kaspar) thinks, but the other teams still struggle here because of our crowd,” Montalvo said. “The fact they have to travel all the hours—I think we still have the advantage. We just have to use it. These last few games are pretty much do or die. We got to get these two if we don’t want be looking from the outside in.” 

Follow Sabrina Flores on Twitter @SabrinaFloresTX.