JONESBORO, Ark. (11/6/19) – A second-half surge on both ends of the floor propelled the Arkansas State men’s basketball team to a 65-49 win against Arkansas-Monticello in the 2019-20 season opener Wednesday night at First National Bank Arena.
A-State (1-0) scored 37 of its 65 points in the second half, shooting 48.4 percent from the floor (15-of-31), while forcing 22 turnovers. The Red Wolves improved to 49-10 all-time in home openers, including 27-6 when the home opener is the season opener as well.
“We talked to our guys over the last four days about how good (Arkansas-Monticello) was,” head coach Mike Balado said. “We want to play teams that are going to push us and we knew they had four starters coming back and they’re going to win a lot of games. It was a really good win for our team. I was very happy with the way we responded, especially in the second half.”
Canberk Kus led the Red Wolves with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting while J.J. Matthews recorded the first double-double of his career with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Two other Red Wolves scored in double figures, with Marquis Eaton tallying 11 and Christian Willis adding 10. As a team, A-State shot 46.6 percent from the field in the game with a 20-to-12 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Wanya King led Arkansas-Monticello with a game-high 19 points on 5-of-9 from three to go along with seven rebounds. Marcus Gilbert added 15 points and six boards. The Red Wolves’ defense held UAM to 32.1 percent shooting (31.0 percent in the second half).
Both sides traded blows early, with the Weevils taking a 13-9 lead after a pair of treys by Gilbert, but Willis responded with a layup of his own, handing the Red Wolves a 15-13 lead. That advantage grew to 26-17 after a 6-0 A-State run.
UAM clawed back to within four at 26-22 with under three to go in the half, but a layup by Brevard with 44 seconds to go halted the 5-0 run by the Weevils to hand A-State a 28-22 lead at the break.
Willis led the Red Wolves with eight points in the first half on 3-of-5 shooting (2-of-3 from three).
An 8-2 run out of the half by the Weevils knotted up the score at 30-all, with UAM taking a 35-34 lead on a Gilbert layup with 15:48 left. Seconds later, Kus laid in a shot to spark an 11-0 run to push A-State back ahead by 10 at 45-35. That lead grew to 15 at 50-35 as Kus and Jackson registered buckets.
The Weevils trimmed the deficit to 11 on a pair of free throws and a bucket by Gilbert with just over three minutes left, but A-State would close out the night by extending that lead out to 16 at 65-49 after Matthews converted an and-one with 45 ticks left.
A-State now turns its attention to another tough test, traveling to Oxford, Mississippi, to take on Ole Miss at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8. The game will be streamed live on SEC Network+.
For the latest on the A-State men’s basketball program, follow @AStateMB on Twitter and @astatemb on Instagram, while also liking the team’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/RedWolvesMB.