Tarleton scored 53 points after halftime and was led by junior guard Tyler Rushing’s 19 points as the No. 19 Texans knocked off Texas A&M-International, 83-67, in the final game of the 2008 Texan Tipoff Classic at Wisdom Gym Saturday.
Tarleton had to overcome 26 turnovers in the win, the most by a Texan team since Feb. 24, 2007 when 27 turnovers led to an overtime loss at Eastern New Mexico.
Forwards Eric Williams and Jeremiah Wilson combined for 10 of the turnovers, but made up for it by filling out the stat sheet in other ways as well.
Wilson recovered from early foul trouble to post his third double-doube for the 4-0 Texans with 12 points and 12 rebounds. The junior from Chicago had only two points and two boards at the break after sitting out the final 13-plus minutes of the opening half with two fouls.
Williams scored 17 and grabbed seven rebounds while also collecting two steals and a block and dishing out one assist.
Rushing had the steadiest hand of all in becoming the fourth player to lead the Texans in scoring in four games. The Wichita Falls native who transferred to Tarleton from Texas Western College (juco) was 6-7 from the floor, including a perfect 3-3 from byond the arc. He also went 4-4 at the charity stripe, and did it all in 24 minutes of action.
Tarleton is 4-0 in out-rebounding opponents this season after getting on the boards 50 times compared to 38 for TAMUI, but for the first time of the year failed to outscore a foe in the paint, as each club had 32 points down low.
Defense fueled the Texans in the first half when TAMUI connected on only seven shots from the field for an anemic 20.6-percent The Dust Devils didn’t hit a single field goal from the 14-minute mark until the 7-minute mark, allowing Tarleton to go on a 10-0 run to take a 19-9 lead.
TAMUI showed a little more life offensively over the final few minutes of the half, but the Texans still led, 30-22, at the break.
Jeremiah Wilson hit a three-ball to open up a 44-31 Tarleton advantage with 13:37 to play, but pesky TAMUI capped a 7-0 run wih a Mark Walton jumper to cu the deficit to six with 11:41 still to go.
The lead finally dwindled to 50-45 on a pair of free throws by Antron Pippen, son of NBA?legend Scottie Pippen, with 9:57 left, and was five again when a Jasper Garrett dunk made it 64-59 at the 4:48 mark.
That was as close as the Dust Devils would get, however, as Tarleton dominated the rest of the way.
A turnover set Williams up for a two-handed slam in transition to make it 74-63 with 2:46 to go, and the Texans went 9-10 at the free throw line in the final two-plus minutes to put TAMUI away.
Tarleton was a season-best 45.5-percent from the floor and 33.3-percent from the arc. The Texans made just 19 of their first 30 free throws before finishing 28-40 (70-percent) thanks to the late barrage from the stripe.
Tarleton looks to go 5-0 for the second straight year when the Texans host Texas A&M-Commerce on Tuesday. TAMUC was the first team to defeat Tarleton last year. Tipoff at Wisdom Gym is 8 p.m