LAFAYTTE, La. (1/30/17) – The Arkansas State men’s basketball team made 13-straight field goals as part of a 33-9 run and outscored Louisiana 55-28 the final 12 minutes to leave the Cajundome with an 88-69 victory Monday.
With the win, A-State moves into a tie for first place in the Sun Belt Conference with a 7-2 league record. Overall, the Red Wolves improve to 16-6 on the season, tying Grant McCasland with three other coaches for the most by a first year A-State head coach. With the loss, the Ragin’ Cajuns fall to 14-8 overall and 4-5 in league play.
Devin Carter led A-State with 22 points, scoring 19 in the second half. Deven Simms added 20 points and a team best six rebounds. Rashad Lindsey added 17 points and Tamas Bruce also reached double figures with 11 points. Frank Bartley IV led the Ragin’ Cajuns with 18 points.
Shooting 70.4 percent (19-27) in the second half helped the Red Wolves end the night 52.5 percent (31-59) overall. A-State was 10-for-18 (55.6 percent) from 3-point range and held the Ragin’ Cajuns 14 points below their season average with 69 points allowed. Louisiana shot 43.1 percent (25-58) from the field, but struggled beyond the arc hitting 26.1 percent (6-23).
How It Happened (First Half):
The Red Wolves used a 13-2 run to build an 18-14 advantage with 11:44 left in the half. The Ragin’ Cajuns didn’t go away, holding A-State 2-for-10 from the field for a four minute stretch.
A-State built its largest lead of the half, 28-22, with 53 seconds left, but the Ragin’ Cajuns scored the final four points of the half to send it to the halftime break 28-26.
Tamas Bruce had 11 points in the half as A-State shot 38 percent (12-32) from the floor. Donte Thomas, Connor Kern and Devin Carter each hit a 3-pointer, but A-State was 3-for-10 (30 percent) beyond the arc. The Ragin’ Cajuns also shot 38 percent (10-26), but the Red Wolves held the hosts to 2-for-9 (22.2 percent) from 3-point range.
Louisiana owned a 21-17 edge on the glass in the first half, but A-State had a 5-0 advantage in second chance points. The Red Wolves committed only six turnovers compared to eight for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
How It Happened (Second Half):
The Ragin’ Cajuns opened the second half on a 15-6 run to build a 41-33 lead 12:55 remaining. A-State took a timeout and hit each of their next 13 shots to flip the game, outscoring the Ragin’ Cajuns 33-9. Of the 13 makes, five were from 3-point range.
Louisiana hit three-straight 3-pointers late in the second half, but the Red Wolves converted 15-of-17 free throws in the second half to seal the victory.
Despite opening the second half 3-for-9, A-State shot 70.4 percent (19-27) in the second period, including 7-for-8 (87.5 percent) beyond the arc. Devin Carter (19) and Deven Simms (18) combined for 37 points of the Red Wolves 60 points in the second half on 13-of-16 (81.3 percent).
With the win, A-State earned its first at the Cajundome since a win over Western Kentucky in the 2007 Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Lafayette. The win against the Ragin’ Cajuns at the Cajundome was the first since Dec. 17, 2006 (73-63).
The win ties Grant McCasland with Jack Dale (16-9 | 1931-32), John Rauth (16-8 | 1949-50), and Marvin Speight (1963-64) for the most wins by a first year A-State head coach.
A-State has now won 16 of its first 22 games for the first time since the 1997-98 season. This is just the second time in program history to have 16 wins before February, joining the 1988-89 team that was 16-4.
The Red Wolves now have seven road wins, tied for the second-most in program history, joining the 2013-14 and 1997-98 teams.
Devin Carter posted 20-plus points in league play for the 14th time in 25 Sun Belt Conference games at A-State. This was his 25th career game with 20-plus points in 52 games played.
Quoting Coach MacCasland:
“You get in these kind of battles on the road and you look in huddles and belief is a big deal. I know these guys love each other by the way interact with each other on and off the floor. I looked at them in the timeout, it was just a matter of understanding that you have to find a way. I told them that we were going to win and I looked at Devin Carter, Rashad Lindsey and Deven Simms and those guys just look at each other like we’re going to win. We put ourself in a position to win every day in practice and it takes that to be able to put yourself in a position to win games like this on the road. This is where practice happens and the time and effort you put in starts to show. I was proud of the way we competed and I love this team because you can tell there is just a belief about them that they love each other.
Early in the game, we had to stay in it by getting stops. Playing this team, which is the best in the league at offensive rebounding, that we had to keep them under three offensive rebounds (in the first half) and we did, which gave us a two point lead. When you’re not shooting the ball well, that is where I am most proud of our team because we found ways to get stops. In the second half, we just kept chipping away in the way we competed and we didn’t let a few turnovers affect us too much. Then, we get that timeout and we flipped a switch. I thought Rashad Lindsey was just tremendous tonight in how he managed the game. When we needed another ball handler tonight, we got it out of Deven Simms to spread the floor and he just kept attacking the rim. What can you say about Devin Carter though, he just made big shots when we needed them. He came down and would just throw one in and he’s one of those guys who has shown tremendous growth in practice.
One thing about our team, home games have been huge for us. We’ve been fortunate to win all our home games and we are excited about getting back to the Convocation Center. We’ve been packing it recently with students involved too and hopefully we’ll get a great crowd this weekend. An important aspect of winning a conference championship is winning home games and we’ve got a big home test on Saturday.”
Arkansas State returns to the Convocation Center to host Appalachian State on Saturday (Feb. 4) and Coastal Carolina on Monday (Feb. 6). Both games will tipoff at 7 p.m.