Texans extend winning streak to nine games in season sweep of Trailblazers


ST. GEORGE, Utah — Tarleton State Men’s Basketball improved one of the nation’s best winning streaks to nine games, in a 85-74 victory over Utah Tech to clinch the season sweep on Thursday night in Burns Arena.

With the victory, the Texans (21-7 overall, 14-3) inch within one game of tying the program record for most conference wins in a single season. The Trailblazers (10-18, 6-11) drop further away from making the WAC Tournament. Tarleton improved its record in the season series to 6-1.

“It was a great team victory,” said acting head coach Joseph Jones. “We started on the fast start we wanted and was able to battle adversity when we faced it. We have more work to do on Saturday and I know our team will be ready.”

Jakorie Smith and Devon Barnes extended the Texans’ streak to 12 games with at least one player scoring 20-plus. The duo marks the fourth time this season to each score at least 20, and the second time Barnes and Smith teamed together to accomplish the feat. Smith led the way with 24, Barnes notched his third straight 20-point effort with 21. Barnes added a game-high six steals and Smith totaled a team-best five assists.

KiAndre Gaddy was the third Texan in double-figures posting 14 points and seven boards. Lue Williams led the team in rebounds with eight and seven coming on the defensive glass.

The Texans dominated the first half with 49 points, the most by the Texans against a D1 program this season, and the second-most in their D1 era against D1 opponents. The last four meetings with the Trailblazers are the last four times Tarleton has scored 45 or more in the first half against a NCAA Division I opponent. The Texans led all 40 minutes, never allowing a tie or the Trailblazers to take a lead.

Smith led the way knocking down a pair of triples for the first six points for the Purple and White. The Texans jumped out to a 17-2 lead with 10 coming from Smith. After a quick timeout, Utah Tech responded with a 16-4 run of their own to cut its deficit to three, 21-18 at the 10:29 mark. Once again Smith responded with a mid-range jumper to enlarge the TSU lead to five.

After the Trailblazers cut their deficit to three for the second time, a new Texan decided to help spurt the squad. Over the next 6:35 Tarleton outscored UTU, 20-7 with the duo of Gaddy and Barnes accounting for 14. Barnes led the way with eight including a four-point play, drawing the foul on a three in the corner. The Texans led 43-26 with 3:18 remaining and coasted to the 49-30 halftime lead.

In the first half the Texans shot 55.6 percent from the floor (20-for-36), The Texans also pulled down 22 boards and forced eight turnovers on six steals.

The second half started the same way with the grabbing their largest lead of the game, 21, 51-30 after Barnes made a pair of technical foul free throws assessed after the Utah Tech coach earned a technical foul at the end of the first half.

Utah Tech brought themselves back into the game, using a 14-4 run over 6:16 to cut its deficit to six, 60-54 with 9:32 remaining. Barnes responded with a triple to bring the Texans lead back up to nine.

With the Texans leading 67-61, Dario Domingos drove the lane sinking the bucket and drawing the foul. Domingos then completed the three-point play with his free throw. In just five minutes of action, the junior transfer scored seven points.

The Trailblazers cut their deficit to five, but a triple by Barnes and a layup by Domingos, ballooned the lead to ten. UTU responded with a bucket, but Domingos scored his final points of the game to put the Texans up by double-digits for the remainder of the game.

In the final four minutes, Utah tech was unable to put any dent into the lead. Tarleton closed the game shooting a perfect eight-for-eight from the free throw line in the final three minutes.

The Purple and White shot 29-for-62 from the floor (46.8 percent) and  five-of-18 from deep. The Texans won the battle of the boards 36-33. For the 93rd time in the Texans’ D1 era, TSU won the turnover battle, 16-12, to pick up their 55th win when leading the battle. Tarleton State grabbed 12 steals and 15 assists both marks higher than the Thunderbirds.

Tarleton will close the western road trip with a revenge date against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds on Saturday evening at America First Event Center. SUU got the best of the Texans on Jan. 25, 73-70, Tarleton’s last loss.

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