FACTS & STATS: Site: Strahan Coliseum (7,200) -- San Marcos, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: Fordham 0-0, Texas State 0-0. Away Record: Fordham 0-0, Texas State 0-0. Neutral Record: Fordham 0-0, Texas State 0-0. Conference Record: Fordham 0-0, Texas State 0-0. Series Record: Fordham leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Texas State Bobcats begin their first season as a member of the Western Athletic Conference tonight as they tangle with the Fordham Rams in non-conference action at Strahan Coliseum in San Marcos.
Doug Davalos, the head coach of Texas State who is 21 games under .500 during his tenure with the Bobcats, led the team to a record of 13-17 overall last season but just 5-11 against other programs in the Southland Conference. Outside of a couple of early three-game win streaks and one four-game run in the second half of February, Texas State found it difficult to put up consistent, positive efforts. On the road it was especially tough as the Bobcats delivered just three wins in 14 true road tests.
The 2011-12 campaign came to an end for the Bobcats in early December when they bowed to Sam Houston State, 63-61. The squad will have to hurry to make their mark in the WAC because they are scheduled to be here for just one year before moving on to the Sun Belt Conference beginning in 2013-14.
As for the Rams, members of the Atlantic 10 Conference, they actually played well against non-conference opponents a year ago as the produced a record of 7-6. Unfortunately, it was against the rest of the A10 that the troubles began as Fordham managed only three wins in 16 opportunities. Like Texas State, the Rams were also woeful on the road with just one win in 14 attempts, losing all eight conference road dates.
The Rams won the only previous meeting between the teams last season at home in Rose Hill Gym with an 81-70 decision in December. Chris Gaston recorded a career-high 35 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for the hosts, as the victory began the only three-game win streak of the campaign for the Rams.
One of the top all-time performers with the Rams, Gaston is the one who will determine how the entire season will play out. The senior led the program in both scoring (17.1 ppg) and rebounding (9.9 rpg) a year ago and is on pace to reach 1,000 rebounds and 1,500 points in his career in the not-to-distant future. The only player to start all 29 games for the Rams last season, junior guard Branden Frazier is the other returning double-digit scorer who put up 11.7 ppg and was also tops in the passing department with 118 assists. However, the knock on Frazier is his shooting after he converted just 36.6 percent from the floor and 27.3 percent behind the three-point line. Then again, the team as a whole made just 38.3 percent from the field and 27.5 percent on the perimeter. At just 61.0 percent, the Rams were also one of the weakest free-throw shooting teams in the country as well.
While the Rams were struggling with their shooting accuracy from all over the floor, Texas State was cranking out some impressive offensive numbers as it ranked 24th in the country with 76.4 ppg. However, the team did cause much of that damage against inferior opponents such as Texas Lutheran, Howard Payne, Houston Baptist and Huston-Tillotson. In conference play the points were much harder to come by, but that didn't stop Matt Staff from leading the group with his 13.3 ppg as he shot 52.5 percent from the field and 42.9 percent behind the three-point line. Staff is also the top returning rebounder for the Bobcats by a wide margin, having accounted for 7.9 boards per outing which was more than two times the average of all but one of his teammates. Vonn Jones (7.7 ppg), a starter in 16 of the team's 30 games, needs to work on his shooting from the floor (.374) and on the perimeter (.284), but being the top assist man (118) a year ago is what he must again focus on this season.
Obviously Gaston is someone who can dominate a game, one that is played against a weaker foe, but in this case the Bobcats hold the edge by being at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas State 75, Fordham 66
11/09 10:38:08 ET
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