Bobcats take over Sun Belt lead with win over Cajuns

The Texas State Bobcats on Saturday won their 22nd game of the year and moved into sole possession of first place in the Sun Belt Conference.

They also did it in dramatic fashion, building an 18-point, second-half lead, falling behind by a point and then grinding out a 64-62 victory at home over the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.

Guard Nijal Pearson hit a three with 1:21 remaining for the final points of the game.

After the last regular-season home game of the season, Bobcats coach Danny Kaspar took the microphone at courtside and thanked fans at Strahan Arena for their support.

Texas State closes its regular-season schedule with three road games — at Troy and South Alabama and at UT-Arlington.

The Bobcats (22-6, 11-4) hold a one-game lead on the Georgia State Panthers (19-9, 10-5) in the race for the Sun Belt title.

Coastal Carolina, playing at home in Conway, South Carolina, beat Georgia State 95-82 on Saturday.


Texas State 22-6, 11-4
Louisiana 16-11, 7-7


Texas State — Tre Nottingham, 17 points. Nijal Pearson and Eric Terry, 13 apiece.

Louisiana — Cedric Russell, 25.

Fans start to take notice of Division I hoops in San Marcos

Keaton Wallace had 19 points for UTSA. Texas State beat UTSA 69-68 on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Texas State forward Chandler Davis (left) defends against UTSA’s Keaton Wallace. The Bobcats beat the Roadrunners 69-68 on Dec. 1 in San Antonio. – Photo by Joe Alexander.

Texas State Bobcats coach Danny Kaspar likely has known for awhile now that his team could emerge in March as one of the most special in school history.

He hasn’t said so in as many words.

At least, not until Saturday, when he started comparing his squad favorably to some of the best in school history.

Moments after a stirring 77-64 victory over Arkansas State in front of 4,163 fans at Strahan Arena, Kaspar credited the fans for their support and talked about how helpful they could be down the stretch.

“I know the crowd helped us, but it also wowed (the players) when they walked out there,” he said, in a video posted on the program’s website. “I mean, other than the Air Force game, that’s the first good crowd we’ve had.

“And, of course, a lot of our students are in town and that makes a difference.”

Texas State drew 4,058 on Nov. 9 in an opening-night 67-57 victory over Air Force.

With that performance, the Bobcats started to build momentum, which has carried them to a 16-3 record, including 5-1 in the Sun Belt.

Now tied for first in the standings, Texas State will commence preparation for a meeting with Sun Belt co-leader Georgia State Thursday night in Atlanta.

A demanding coach who chooses his words carefully, Kaspar said his team is “worth a look” when it returns home to play at Strahan in coming weeks.

“I just think this team is playing some of the best basketball in the Division I era (of the university),” Kaspar said. “I know that they had some great teams during the NAIA years.

“But in the Division I era, this is about as good as anyone’s been playing, since the Jeff Foster days, the Donte Mathis days.”

Formerly a NAIA and NCAA Division II program, Texas State transitioned into Division I in the 1984-85 season.

Success has been spotty, with the Bobcats reaching the NCAA tournament in 1994 and 1997. They haven’t been back since.

Could this year be the year? Given that the Bobcats are 14-2 since mid-November, the coach issued an appeal to the fans.

“I’m hoping people will say, ‘Maybe it’s worth a look,’ and start coming out,” Kaspar said. “I think they have fun when they’re here.”

Texas State’s Kaspar encouraged by effort at Arkansas

Playing on the road in a traditionally hostile setting, the upstart Texas State Bobcats opened with a 19-6 burst Saturday afternoon against a higher-profile opponent that didn’t seem all that interested in competing.

Texas State coach Danny Kaspar. His Bobcats beat UTSA 69-68 at the UTSA Convocation Center on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. - photo by Joe Alexander

Texas State coach Danny Kaspar. – Photo by Joe Alexander

But then the Arkansas Razorbacks woke up and found a rhythm, answering with a 17-0 run over a four-minute stretch that spelled the difference in a 73-70 victory, putting an end to the Bobcats’ eight-game winning streak.

“We started off strong, and Arkansas picked it up,” Texas State coach Danny Kaspar told reporters. “They counter-punched us and knocked us down, and we were a little slow to get up. I guess it went from 19-6 (in favor of Texas State) to 21-19, something like that.

“Other than that stretch right there, I thought we played pretty good.”

Kaspar’s comments were posted in a video published online at

After a Christmas break, Texas State will continue its non-conference slate on Dec. 29 at home against Howard Payne. It’s the final test for the Bobcats before they open play in the Sun Belt on Jan. 3 at home against Georgia Southern.

Based on what has happened in the first few months of the season, the Bobcats should feel pretty good about their chances in conference.

In Nijal Pearson, Tre Nottingham, Jaylen Shead, Alex Peacock and Eric Terry, they’ve got a leadership nucleus that has played well together for most of the season.

Kaspar lamented 13 of 41 shooting combined by Pearson, Nottingham and Peacock.

“We got to have our main people shoot better than that,” Kaspar said. “But, I thought our defense was reasonably good, against a team in a pretty hostile environment, like this place is.”

Texas State also outrebounded Arkansas, 42-34, grabbing 17 offensive boards along the way.

“You know, we didn’t really have an answer for (Daniel) Gafford,” Kaspar said. “I’m not sure a lot of people are going to have an answer for him. He’s a good player.

“But then I thought Mason Jones was the one player that made a difference in the game today. He really had a good game. He was very efficient against us. He hurt us even more than Gafford.

“But we’ll take from this and learn from it and try to do better.”

Kaspar seemed particularly pleased with the rebounding statistics, particularly the 17 offensive rebounds.

“Shows me we were battling pretty good,” he said.


Texas State is 10-2 to lead all teams in the Sun Belt in non-conference victories.

Pearson ranks in the top ten in the conference in three major statistical categories, including scoring (19.6, sixth), field goal percentage (48.9, eighth) and three-point percentage (49.4, first).

Shead, the team’s starting point guard, is tied for second in assists (4.9) and leads in assist-turnover ratio (2.7-1).

Alonzo Sule’s inspired play off the bench sparks Texas State

When the Texas State University basketball team started working out earlier this fall, a series of ankle injuries kept redshirt freshman forward Alonzo Sule off the floor.

Sule would sit out for a few days each time until, one day, Bobcats coach Danny Kaspar summoned him for a chat.

“When you get hurt,” Kaspar told him, “you can’t help me and I can’t help you.”

With his injury woes in the past, Sule has started to help Kaspar and the Bobcats in a big way.

The 6-foot-7 forward from Africa has exploded for 45 points off the bench in his last two games.

More impressively, in scoring 22 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and 23 against Houston Baptist, Sule has hit 19 of 21 shots from the floor.

“Almost seems like a light switch just flipped on,” Kaspar said.

As Texas State prepares for a road test Saturday at UT Rio Grande Valley, Sule said it feels great to contribute to the team, its 9-1 record and its seven-game winning streak.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “Really, winning is the most important thing. It’s been a good experience. I’m just feeling more comfortable in the system.”

Growing up in Cameroon, Sule moved to Texas, where he played his last two seasons of high school at Katy Cinco Ranch in the Houston area.

He said he talked to Brown in the Ivy League and also to A&M-Corpus Christi and UT Rio Grande Valley.

But he eventually settled on Texas State, where he sat out last year as a redshirt.

As this season started, Sule was not playing a major role for the Bobcats. At times, it seemed that for every play he made, he was also called for a foul.

Sule racked up 14 fouls in 52 minutes in his first five games.

“Playing defense without fouling is big,” Sule said. “I feel like I’ve gotten better at that. But it was frustrating (at first). I’d come in, and I’d foul.”

In Texas State’s last three games, Sule has come off the bench to wreak havoc on the offensive glass, pulling down nine offensive rebounds in that span.

In the best game of his burgeoning college career, Sule torched HBU last Saturday in San Marcos with career highs in points (23) and rebounds (10).

“I’ve been given an opportunity,” he said. “So, now, I’m just trying to take advantage of it.”