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Air Force vs. Texas State preview: Do the Falcons have an answer for Nijal Pearson?

Both clubs will have something to prove in their respective conferences this season, and a win could set them in the right direction.

NCAA Basketball: Air Force at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Strahan Coliseum – San Marcos, TX
Date: Friday, Nov, 9
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV/Stream: ESPN+
Records: Air Force 1-0, Texas State 0-0

Setting the Stage:

The Bobcats gear up for their first game of the 2018-19 campaign with the hopes of building off a mediocre 15-18 season a year ago. Last year Texas State finished near the bottom of the Sun Belt but they enter this year’s inaugural game as heavy favorites against the Air Force Falcons.

The Falcons, meanwhile, aren’t expected to do much in the top-heavy Mountain West but are coming in off a 25-point win against Johnson & Wales in their season opener. Texas State, though, provides a much more difficult challenge.

Players to Watch:

Chris Joyce, G, Air Force

Joyce was the Falcons’ leading scorer on Tuesday evening with 15 points off the bench. The sophomore hit 80% on his free throw attempts (4-5) and was a perfect 3-3 on his three-point tries. In total, Joyce shot 57.1% from the floor and did so in just 12 minutes of action. Look for the six-foot-five guard to be one of Air Force’s top offensive producers again tonight.

Lavelle Scottie, F, Air Force

Against Johnson & Wales, Scottie gave the Falcons perhaps their most complete performance. Offensively, he nabbed 12 points going 5-8 from the floor (2-4 from three). He also got in on three assists. On the other side of the ball, the junior had a steal and snagged six defensive boards (seven total). Like Joyce, Scottie came off the bench and didn’t even see a full half of game time.

Nijal Pearson, G, Texas State

As a sophomore, Pearson was the Bobcats’ leading scorer by a wide margin, averaging 15.2 points per game (the next closest was Immanuel King at 8.9). He also led the club with six rebounds per contest and attempted more field goals than anyone on the roster. Defensively, Pearson was a force to be reckoned with as well. His 44 total steals tied him for eighth in the Sun Belt and he led Texas State with 130 defensive rebounds. He could be a headache for Air Force in this one.

Eric Terry, F, Texas State

Terry was the club’s most efficient shooter last year connecting on nearly 60% of his field goal attempts. He also knows how to get to the line as he attempted 78 free throws a season ago, which was third most on the team. An interesting note: Of Texas State’s 33 contests last year, Terry didn’t start a single one.

Prediction: This game could be close in the early stages as the Falcons are coming in off a victory and, despite it being against little ol’ Johnson & Wales, a win is a win that could lead to some early momentum. This is also Texas State’s first game of the year so there could still be a little rust to shake off. Through the first five to ten minutes, don’t be surprised if Air Force is hanging around. Guys like Joyce and Scottie could keep them close for a little while.

With that being said, as the game goes on, I expect the Bobcats to start to run away with it. Pearson will simply be too much for the Falcon defense and he should help lead the team to a comfortable victory when all is said done. Head coach Danny Kaspar will have the ‘Cats ready to take care of business against one of the Mountain West’s afterthoughts in the season opener.

Verdict: 92-67, Texas State