By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (February 17, 2015) — Many among the Tarleton State faithful believed the Texans would jump into the top 10 this week.
Why shouldn’t they feel that way. Tarleton was No. 11 a week ago, and all the Texans have done since is upset No. 4 Angelo State at home and go on the road to beat Lone Star Conference rival Texas A&M-Kingsville.
But ASU was the only top 10 team to suffer a loss next week, and other than those 10 teams being shuffled accordingly, there wasn’t any room for Tarleton to move up. At least not according to this week’s National Association of Basketball Coaches top 25, which was released Tuesday.
Tarleton remains 11th entering a tough Wednesday road test at West Texas A&M, which has won six of seven – the only loss was to ASU – since falling 76-71 in Stpehenville on January 21. Wednesday’s game will come on the heels of the debut of the South Central Region rankings, which will be unveiled earlier in the day. The regional rankings – and automatic berths won at conference championship tournaments – ultimately decides who plays where in the opening three rounds of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
But there is reason for Tarleton to celebrate. Nosa Ebomwonyi, a 6-4 guard from Pflugerville, has been named LSC Defensive Player of the Week by conference officials in Richardson. Ebomwonyi is the first true freshman from Tarleton to earn an LSC honors since the school joined the NCAA and the conference in 1994. He is the fifth Texan to be honored this season, joining defensive players of the week Davene Carter and Damion Clemons, as well as offensive players of the week TaShawn Mabry and Mo Lee.
Ebomwonyi’s best defensive work came over the final six minutes of Tarleton’s win over ASU. The freshman manned up on Marsell Holden and held him scoreless over that stretch after the talented guard poured in 16 points over the first 14 minutes of the second half and 20 for the game.
Ebomwonyi had seven rebounds against the Rams and four at A&M-Kingsville, with nine of his 11 total boards coming on the defensive end. He helped Tarleton limit the two foes to a 36.8 shooting percentage and an average of just 69 points. Tarleton was particularly impressive on the defensive end against ASU, limiting the Rams to 21 points below their average of 89.1 entering the game. A large reason why was field goal percentage defense – ASU was shooting 54.5 percent for the season before hitting only 36.8 percent at Wisdom Gym.
The freshman has started 18 games for Tarleton, averaging 6.2 points and 2.8 boards. He is a 43 percent shooter, including 42.9 percent from the arc.