SAN MARCOS, Texas– Texas State (7-6, 0-2 Sun Belt) opens 2020 with a pair of Sun Belt Conference games in Arkansas. The Bobcats will challenge Little Rock (8-5, 2-0 Sun Belt) at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 2 at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock, Arkansas before matching up with Arkansas State (10-3, 2-0 Sun Belt) at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 4 at the First National Bank Arena in Jonesboro, Ark.
ESPN + vs. Little Rock: PXP: Ben Creighton, Analyst: Steve Shields
Live Stats vs. Little Rock: Statbroadcast
ESPN + vs. Arkansas State: PXP: Roger Twibell, Analyst: C.J. Pepper
Live Stats vs. Arkansas State: Statbroadcast
Listen vs. Little Rock/Arkansas State: AM 1300 The Zone, 89.9 KTSW, TuneIn App – Bill Culhane
SETTING THE SCENE
- Texas State enters the weekend with an 0-2 start in Sun Belt play after suffering losses at Georgia Southern (67-64) and Georgia State (81-69).
- The Bobcats are looking to end a three-game losing streak on the road and pick up their first conference win this season.
- Overall this season, Texas State leads the Sun Belt Conference in scoring margin (10.2), field goal percentage (.480) and field goal defense percentage (.380). The Bobcats’ defensive field goal percentage ranks No. 23 in the nation.
- The team also ranks No. 2 in the league as they give up just 63.6 points to their opponents. The Bobcats average 73.8 points per game (No. 5 in the Sun Belt) and shoot 33.5 percent from 3-point range (No. 7 in the Sun Belt) and 73.6 percent at the free-throw line (No. 3 in the Sun Belt).
- Senior guard Nijal Pearson is No. 3 in the Sun Belt with 17.8 points per game behind a 42.9 field goal percentage (No. 7 in the Sun Belt). He also averages 5.1 rebounds per game (T-No. 19 in the Sun Belt) and has 25 assists, 13 steals and six blocks on the year. Pearson has scored in double figures in every game this season.
- Sophomore guard Mason Harrell follows with 10.5 points per game and leads the team with an efficient 57.5 field goal percentage (46-of-80). He also shoots 84.6 percent at the charity stripe (No. 5 in the Sun Belt). Harrell is the league leader with a 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio and dishes out 3.1 assists per game, tying junior guard Marlin Davis at No. 10 in the league. Davis is also No. 2 in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1).
- Senior forward Eric Terry has been dominating as of late, averaging 18.7 points and 4.7 rebounds over the last three games. After logging a career-high 20 points vs. Bethany, Terry has led the team in scoring with 17 and 19 points, respectively, in conference games. Overall, Terry averages 1.2 blocks (No. 6 in the Sun Belt) and 8.7 points per game.
- Junior forward Isiah Small is tied at No. 6 in the Sun Belt with 6.8 rebounds per game, including 4.9 defensive rebounds per game (No. 5 in the Sun Belt). Small also joins Terry in the top 10 of the conference with 1.0 block per game (T-No. 7) and averages 7.3 points per game.
PEARSON RECORD TRACKER / NOTABLES
- Pearson is one of 12 active NCAA Division I players with 1,500 career points and 600 career rebounds (24 total players across all divisions).
- Pearson has 1,753 career points that rank No. 3 all-time in TXST history and No. 21 among active players in the NCAA across all divisions. He is 88 points shy of passing former Bobcat Travis Cornett (1970-74, 1,841 points) for No. 2 all-time. He is also No. 25 in the Sun Belt Conference all-time.
- The Beaumont, Texas native has 151 career steals, ranking No. 5 in school history (Ryan White No. 4, 154).
- Pearson has 638 career rebounds, which is tied at No. 12 with Cameron Johnson (2007-11) on the all-time rebounding list in the program’s history. Pearson is six boards behind Willie Terrell (1969-71, 644) and 33 rebounds behind Brandon Bush (2005-09, 671). Pearson is on pace to finish his career in the top 10 in total rebounds for Texas State.
- Pearson was named to the Lou Henson Award Preseason Watch List on Nov. 5. Pearson appeared on the Lou Henson Mid-Season Watch List last year. He was also picked as the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year in a couple of publications including the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and Street & Smith’s.
- Pearson was tabbed to the 2019-20 Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team by the league office after garnering All-Sun Belt First Team honors in the 2018-19 season.
SCOUTING LITTLE ROCK
- Little Rock enters 2020 with an 8-5 record, including a 2-0 conference mark with wins over ULM (73-72) and Louisiana (69-66). The Trojans are currently riding a three-game losing streak and have a 4-1 record at home this season.
- Overall this season, the Trojans average 68.0 points while giving up 65.2 points per game to their opponents. The team shoots 45.0 percent from the field, 33.0 from 3-point range, and 68.7 at the free-throw line.
- LR seems to have slow starts as they are outscored by their opponents 429-389 in the first half, but have strong finishes, outscoring the opposition 495-418 in the second half.
- Sophomore guard Markquis Nowell is the Sun Belt Conference leader with 19.8 points per game and 2.7 steals per game. He shoots 47.8 percent from the floor (No. 4 in the Sun Belt), including a 40.2 3-point field goal percentage (No. 2 in the Sun Belt). Nowell also shoots 87.0 percent at the line (No. 2 in the Sun Belt). Nowell also leads the team with 4.5 assists (No. 2 in the Sun Belt).
- Junior guard Ben Coupet Jr. follows with 12.2 points on average and has a .417 clip from behind-the-arc. Coupet Jr. also shoots 47.2 percent from the floor and adds 5.8 rebounds per game.
- Junior forward Ruot Monyyong completes the list of double-digit scorers for LR with 11.2 points and nearly averages a double-double with 8.8 rebounds per game which is the second-best mark in the league. Monyyong is a presence in the paint on both offense and defense as he scores on 50.0 percent of his shot attempts and leads the team with 1.8 blocks per game (No. 2 in the Sun Belt).
- Sophomore forward Kamani Johnson serves as an X-factor for the Trojans as he averages 8.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game (No. 4 in the Sun Belt).
SCOUTING ARKANSAS STATE
- After a pair of wins vs. Louisiana (79-67) and at ULM (62-59), Arkansas State completed its nonconference schedule with an 84-73 win over Freed Hardeman.
- The Red Wolves are 7-1 at home this season with their only loss coming at the hands of Stephen F. Austin, 76-57 (Nov. 30).
- A-State averages 69.2 points (No. 10 in the Sun Belt), shooting 45.7 percent from the floor (No. 4 in the Sun Belt) and 35.1 percent from behind-the-arc (No. 3 in the Sun Belt). Defensively, the Red Wolves allow 67.3 points per game, giving up a league-worse 45.9 field goal defense percentage.
- Senior guard Canberk Kus and freshman guard Caleb Fields both average 12.3 points per game to lead the Red Wolves. Kus leads the team with 1.5 steals (No. 9 in the Sun Belt), 1.0 blocks (T-No. 7 in the Sun Belt) and adds 5.4 rebounds per game. Fields is the team leader with 3.3 assists (No. 8 in the Sun Belt) and 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio (No. 5 in the Sun Belt).
- Junior forward J.J. Matthews (9.9 ppg), junior guard Marquis Eaton (9.8 ppg), and senior guard Jerry Johnson (9.3 ppg) each average over nine points per game, and senior forward Malik Brevard leads the team with 6.2 rebounds (No. 10 in the Sun Belt) in addition to his 5.8 points per game.
- Texas State is 6-8 all-time vs. Little Rock and 7-3 vs. Arkansas State.
- The Bobcats swept both teams in the regular-season series last year and are on a combined 11-game winning streak.
- Texas State has won the last four games vs. Little Rock, including a 67-60 win at Little Rock last year (Feb. 16, 2019).
- In the last meeting, Pearson dropped 23 points and Terry added 12 on 6-of-6 shooting.
- After dropping the first three meetings of the series, the Bobcats are on a seven-game winning streak vs. Arkansas State.
- TXST picked up a 20-point victory (84-64) the last time the Bobcats played the Red Wolves met in Jonesboro (Feb. 16, 2019). In that game, Pearson finished with 21 points and Sule had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Texas State returns home and will host three games in six days for the Bobcat faithful. The Bobcats will have a 7 p.m. game on Monday, Jan. 6 vs. Troy, followed by another 7 p.m. tip on Thursday, Jan. 9 vs. Coastal Carolina.
The week will conclude with a 4 p.m. matchup on Saturday, Jan. 11 vs. Appalachian State.