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Bobcats hand lost weekend to Trojans

by Eli Lederman | January 17, 2021 at 2:48 a.m.

Darrell Walker spoke for more than three minutes after the Trojans' 67-56 loss to Texas State on Saturday, the UALR coach needed just 10 seconds to convey his feelings about the Bobcats' road sweep at the Jack Stephens Center.

"They kicked our butts," he said. "They kicked our butts. They kicked our butts. I can't say the other word. But they kicked our butts in every way."

Texas State shot 60% from three-point range and rode a game-high 23 points from Caleb Asberry to hand the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (7-6, 3-3 Sun Belt) its first back-to-back home losses since March 2019.

Senior Ben Coupet Jr. led the Trojans with 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 4 three-pointers. Ruot Monyyong finished with 10 points and 10 points, and Nikola Maric added 11 points. But the Bobcats outmuscled the Trojans in the paint, outscoring UALR 38-16 inside.

"We knew that they were a physical team and that they had the advantage on the block," Texas State Coach Terrence Johnson said. "So we tried to play Texas State defense and embraced contact at a high clip, and we made them uncomfortable."

Absent on Saturday were UALR guard Markquis Nowell and Texas State guard Marlin Davis, who were each suspended after throwing punches in a late altercation Friday. Trojans guard C.J. White (tailbone) returned and recorded four points and two assists in his first minutes since Dec. 21.

Texas State's performance capped off a dominant weekend after Friday's 63-59 win over the Trojans. The Bobcats (9-4, 3-1) now sit atop the Sun Belt West Division, two games in the loss column ahead of fourth-place UALR.

"Our confidence is growing in ourselves," Johnson said. "This weekend we stayed locked into us. If we can just do that ... we can repeat it. I know we can do more of this."

Shelby Adams scored 10 of his 11 points in the opening 9:10, and the Bobcats led 27-19 when Asberry drained one of his five three-pointers with 9:17 remaining in the first half.

The Trojans fired back with a bench surge when White and Marko Lukic entered to spark a 7-0 UALR run. Lukic (six points, three assists) dished to Coupet for a jumper and scored on a pass from White after a Texas State turnover. Coupet brought the score to 27-26 with a three-pointer at the 5:29 mark of the first half.

Coupet carried the Trojans in the first half, scoring 15 points, and UALR trailed 40-34 at the break.

"We lost [Friday], so me being a leader on the team, I know I have to come out and perform and give it all I got," Coupet said. "I just wanted to make sure I came out swinging and fighting to try to get the win."

His effort was countered by Asberry's. The junior went 9 of 11 from the field and 5 of 6 from deep to go with 7 rebounds. He set the tone at the start of the second half, nailing a quick three-pointer before driving to the basket and throwing a dunk down of Marko Andric.

He led a Texas State offense that shot 49.4% over the two-game sweep.

"I'll give it to him, he can play," Coupet said of Asberry. "He was talking. He came out with energy both games. I'll give him his props. He can play."

The Trojans committed 16 turnovers, including three shot-clock violations. Coupet lamented how Texas State "did more of the little things" over the weekend.

"This doesn't feel like a team right now," Walker said. "We're just kind of floating around. That's bothersome to me, and it's on me to fix it."

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