SAN MARCOS, Texas – Texas State (7-4, 0-0 Sun Belt) closes out 2019 with a pair of Sun Belt Conference games in Georgia. The Bobcats will face Georgia Southern (6-4, 0-0 Sun Belt) at 6 p.m. CT on Thursday, Dec. 19 at the Hanner Fieldhouse before taking on Georgia State (6-3, 0-0 Sun Belt) at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday, Dec. 21 at the GSU Sports Arena.
ESPN + vs. Georgia Southern: PXP: Danny Waugh, Analyst: Ryan Pye
Live Stats vs. Georgia Southern: Statbroadcast
ESPN + vs. Georgia State: PXP: Sam Crenshaw, Analyst: Rodney Turner
Live Stats vs. Georgia State: Statbroadcast
Listen vs. Georgia Southern/Georgia State: AM 1300 The Zone, 89.9 KTSW, TuneIn App – Bill Culhane
SETTING THE SCENE
- Texas State wraps up its nonconference schedule with a 7-4 record capped by a 117-65 victory over Bethany College. It is the most points the Bobcats have scored in the Danny Kaspar era.
- Senior guard Nijal Pearson was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week after dropping 30 points to go along with six rebounds, three steals, two assists, and one block. It was his second 30-point performance in his career with the Bobcats (33 at Portland, Nov. 24, 2018).
- The Bobcats’ strength remains to be their defense as they give up 61.7 points per game (No. 2 in the Sun Belt) and holds opponents to a league-low 37.0 field goal percentage which ranks 17th in the nation.
- The Bobcat offense averages 75.2 points per game behind a league-best 48.7 field goal percentage and 34.8 3-point field goal percentage (No. 5 in the Sun Belt). They also shoot 72.1 percent from the free-throw line which sits No. 3 in the conference.
- Senior guard Nijal Pearson is No. 2 in the Sun Belt with 18.8 points per game behind a 45.6 field goal percentage (No. 9 in the Sun Belt) and .379 clip from 3-point range (No. 5 in the Sun Belt). He also averages 4.7 rebounds per game and has 19 assists, 13 steals and six blocks on the year. Pearson has scored in double figures in the first 11 games and scored 15 points or more in six consecutive games.
- Sophomore guard Mason Harrell follows with 10.9 points per game and leads the team with an efficient 58.9 field goal percentage (43-of-73). He also shoots 83.3 percent (25-of-30) at the charity stripe. Harrell is the league leader with a 3.0 assist-to-turnover ratio and leads the team with 3.3 assists per game. He has stepped into a new role this season well as he has scored 10 or more points in six of the last seven games.
- Junior forward Isiah Small is tied at No. 4 in the Sun Belt with 7.5 rebounds per game, including 5.4 defensive rebounds per game (No. 3 in the Sun Belt). Small also joins senior forward Eric Terry in the top 10 of the conference with 1.1 blocks per game (No. 9). Terry is sixth with 1.3 swats per game. Small averages 6.7 points and Terry has 7.0 points per game after logging a career-high 20 points vs. Bethany College.
PEARSON RECORD TRACKER / NOTABLES
- Pearson is one of 12 active NCAA Division I players with 1,500 career points and 600 career rebounds (21 total players across all divisions).
- Pearson has 1,728 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 114 points shy of passing former Bobcat Travis Cornett (1970-74, 1,841 points) for No. 2 all-time.
- The Beaumont, Texas native has 151 career steals, ranking No. 5 in school history (Ryan White No. 4, 154).
- Pearson has 624 career rebounds, ranking No. 13 all-time in the program’s history. Pearson is 14 boards behind Cameron Johnson (2007-11, 638) and 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 GEORGIA SOUTHERN
- Georgia Southern opens Sun Belt Conference play with an overall 6-4 record that includes a 4-0 mark at Hanner Fieldhouse.
- Although winners in three of their last five games, the Eagles are coming off an 81-51 loss at Bradley on Sunday, December 15.
- GS has a stingy defense that ranks No. 7 in the nation with 10.5 steals per game which contributes largely to their turnover margin (7.4) and turnovers forced (19.4) statistics that rank No. 2 and No. 9 in the NCAA, respectively. They do, however, give up 74.1 points per game to their opponents (No. 11 in the Sun Belt).
- Offensively, the Eagles average 80.9 points per game, ranking No. 2 in the Sun Belt and No. 25 in all of Division I basketball. Most of their buckets come from 3-point range where they average 8.7 per game (No. 2 in the Sun Belt).
- Sophomore guard Elijah McCadden leads a host of Eagles who scores in double figures with 15.4 points per game. He shoots 47.7 percent from the floor and 44.7 percent from 3-point range to go along with 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game (No. 3 in the Sun Belt).
- Senior guard Ike Smith follows with 14.9 points per game and is the team’s leading rebounder with 6.1 boards on average. Smith joins Pearson on the Lou Henson Award Preseason Watch List and was tabbed All-Sun Belt second-team in the conference’s preseason poll.
- Senior forward Isaiah Crawley turns in 14.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game and junior guard Quan Jackson chips in 11.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game (No. 2 in the Sun Belt) Jackson and Crawly were named to the conference’s preseason first and third-team, respectively.
- Sophomore guard Calvin Wishart completes the list of double-digit scorers for the Eagles with 10.5 per game and leads the team with 24 total assists.
SCOUTING GEORGIA STATE
- Georgia State, the reigning Sun Belt Conference champions, enter the weekend on a five-game winning streak which is the longest active streak in the Sun Belt Conference. They are 6-3 overall and 3-0 at home with two of those wins resulting in 3-point overtime victories vs. Charlotte (81-78) and Dartmouth (83-80). They will face UT Arlington prior to Texas State on Thursday, Dec. 19.
- The Panthers average 80.9 points per game (No. 3 in the Sun Belt) behind a 45.9 field goal percentage and 41.7 3-point field goal percentage. Their clip from long distance is the seventh-best percentage in the nation.
- GSU defends well as they hold opponents to a .390 field goal percentage (No. 3 in the Sun Belt) and a league-low .278 3-point field goal defense percentage which also ranks No. 29 in the NCAA. They protect the interior with 4.6 blocks per game (No. 2 in the Sun Belt).
- Junior guard Corey Allen is tied at No. 3 in the league with 17.1 points per game and ranks No. 10 with a 45.5 field goal percentage and No. 4 with a 39.7 3-point field goal percentage.
- Junior guard Kane Williams averages 13.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He also leads the team with 4.1 assists which rank third in the Sun Belt and has a 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio (No. 9 in the Sun Belt).
- Senior guard Damon Wilson and sophomore guard Justin Roberts average 11.4 and 11.2 points per game, respectively. Wilson leads the team with 5.0 rebounds per game, while Roberts paces the way with a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio (No. 6 in the Sun Belt) and has 3.3 assists per game (No. 9 in the Sun Belt).
- Texas State is 3-7 all-time vs. Georgia Southern and 5-10 vs. Georgia State.
- The Bobcats split the regular-season series with both teams last year.
- Texas State is 1-5 when playing at Georgia Southern, including the last meeting on Jan. 26, 2019, where the Eagles won 74-58.
- The Bobcats are 3-4 at Georgia State, including an 81-68 payback win on Jan. 24, 2019. The Panthers, however, knocked the Bobcats out of the conference tournament with a 59-46 victory and went on to win the league title.
The road trip continues as Texas State will travel to Arkansas for a pair of games to open the year 2020. The Bobcats will challenge Little Rock at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 2 in Little Rock, Ark. before playing Arkansas State at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 4 in Jonesboro, Ark.