JONESBORO, Ark. (11/22/16) – The Arkansas State men’s basketball team won its fifth consecutive game Tuesday night, defeating SIU-Edwardsville 75-57 at the Convocation Center behind a 22-4 run midway through the second half.
A-State improved to 5-1 on the season, marking the 12th time in school history and the first time since 2008-09 the program has won at least five games over its initial six outings. The Red Wolves handed the Cougars their third straight setback, bringing their record to 2-3.
Junior guard Deven Simms scored a season-high 17 points to pace Arkansas State’s offensive attack, while fellow guard’s Devin Carter and Rashad Lindsey joined him in double figures with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
“That was a tremendous crowd we had,” said A-State head coach Grant McCasland. “When I played here in December of 1998 (with Baylor) and A-State made that run in the second half and I turned the ball over and lost the game, I remember how the crowd was and tonight reminded of that. Hopefully we can have more of that. I thought our guys fed off it and I thought our energy picked up in the second half and the crowd was definitely a part of that.”
The contest featured four ties and five lead changes, the last coming with 12:15 left in the game when the Red Wolves overtook the Cougars in the midst of a 22-4 run. Facing its largest deficit of the game, 39-33 five minutes into the second half, A-State started the run with a Carter three-pointer, and he later finished it with a three-point play after being fouled on a layup.
“If there is one thing we have focused on since we got the job, it is making sure we have guys competing on the defensive end of the floor,” said McCasland. “Every team that I have ever been on or competed on has been good on the defensive end of the floor.”
The Red Wolves held a 55-43 advantage at that point with 7:06 remaining. SIUE was able to get it back to a nine-point game at the 3:17 mark, but couldn’t get it any closer. A-State actually extended its lead to 75-55 with 12 seconds to go, giving it at least a 20-point lead in every outing during its five-game winning streak.
A-State posted a season-high .569 field goal percentage while holding the Cougars to a .345 mark. Both squads made 5-of-13 shots from beyond the arc, but A-State held a 36-26 advantage on the boards and outscored SIUE 46-22 in the paint. The Red Wolves have now won or tied the latter two statistics in each of their five victories. Additionally, A-State is averaging 14.0 more points in the paint than its opponents over the last five games.
Including Simms’ 17 points and nine by junior forward Tamas Bruce, the Red Wolves got 35 points from its bench. Starting guard Donte Thomas also added nine points for A-State, while Carter and Simms both pulled down a team-best six rebounds. SIUE had four players score in double digits, including Christian Ellis with a team-high 13 points.
Arkansas State was able to open up a nine-point lead, 20-11, just under 12 minutes into the game, but SIUE outscored the Red Wolves 16-7 to close out the half down by just three, 27-24. The Cougars began the second half with a 15-6 run before A-State began its comeback.
The Red Wolves return to action Sunday, Nov. 27, when they host Lehigh at 1:30 p.m. at the Convocation Center.