Texans use 26-point swing to erase 15-point deficit at Utah Valley

Williams scores 20-plus for the third consecutive game


OREM, Utah — Tarleton State Men’s Basketball erased a 15-point deficit for the second time this season, to come from behind and knock off Utah Valley, 72-61 at the UCCU Center on Thursday night.

The Texans (16-7 overall, 9-3 WAC) matched their WAC record in wins earning their ninth conference victory over the Wolverines (9-14 overall, 4-8 WAC). Tarleton also clinched its first over .500 overall winning percentage in its D1 era.

“Tonight was a big-time road win for the Texans,” said acting head coach Joseph Jones after the game. “Our guys fought extremely hard and played their hearts out. It shows us that this team is never going to give up and never quit for Tarleton and their teammates.”

Lue Williams led the team in scoring for the third-straight game posting his third consecutive 20-plus game posting 21 with 15 coming in the second half. He also brought down six boards and dished out three assists.

Jakorie Smith and KiAndre Gaddy also scored in double-digits posting 13 and 10, respectively. Emmanuel Innocenti pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds while scoring seven points.

Tarleton trailed at the half by 15, in a half that was seemingly dominated by Utah Valley. However, the second half was a completely different story. The Purple and White outscored the Wolverines, 49-23, a 26-point swing from the first half.

Barnes got the Texans started in the second 20 minutes, draining a triple and a mid-range jumper just outside the paint to shorten the deficit to 10 on a 5-0 run in the first two minutes. After his jumper, his excitement warranted a technical foul according to the official, where Utah Valley converted on one-of-two. On the very next possession, Barnes was called for another foul which sparked the bench and seemed to shift the momentum in the Texans favor. Barnes made the Texans seventh straight point on the other end, the beginning of a 7-0 run to bring Tarleton within six, 41-35 with 15:22 to go.

After the Wolverine made a bucket, it was Gaddy’s turn to spark a run. The senior missed the last 17:07 of the first half after drawing two quick fouls. In a span of 1:33 Gaddy made a trio of buckets and his and-one free throw for a 7-0 run of his own, bringing the Texans within a point, 43-42.

With the Purple and White outscoring the hometown team, 19-5, in the first eight minutes of the second half, UCCU Center fell mainly silent except for the contingent of Tarleton fans located right behind the squad’s bench.

Williams tied the game for the first time since it was seven to seven draining a contested shot from downtown to deadlock it at 45. After a UVU missed three-pointer, the ball found Innocenti at the top of the arc where he swished his first three of the night to give the Texans a 48-45 lead and seemingly deaden the crowd.

The two teams would trade baskets before being tied for the final time at 55. With 5:57 to go, Williams made a hook shot in the lane to tie the two squads at 55 and break the tie converting his and-one free throw. The Texans shot out to a five-point lead when Smith and Gaddy made buckets on back-to-back possessions. Smith knocked down a pair of triples with the latter giving Tarleton a 66-58 lead with 1:09 to go.

The Wolverines would make one more triple but after a few shots in the paint that didn’t fall and a TSU rebound, the game was out of reach for UVU. The Texans closed the game on a 6-0 run with two pairs on two pairs of free throws and a fast break wide open dunk by Williams to put the exclamation mark on the 72-61 victory.

Tarleton State shot 27-for-60, 45 percent from the floor. The Texans shot an impressive 56.3 percent in the second half after shooting 32.1 percent in the first half. The Purple and White shot over 50 percent from deep for the third time this season resulting in their third win. TSU shot 53.3 percent from downtown in the game and 62.5 percent in the second half. Utah Valley shot 23.3 percent in the second half after shooting 46.7 percent in the first 20 minutes.

Tarleton will stay out west for one more game this weekend heading northwest to Seattle U, the WAC’s northernmost member. The Texans will take on the Redhawks on Saturday afternoon with tip scheduled for a 3 p.m. local PST start and a 5 pm CT start. Tarleton will return to Texas next week but will remain on the road with a single game in week eight at the College Park Center against UT Arlington on Thursday night at 7 pm.

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