JONESBORO, Ark. (2/17/17) – The Arkansas State men’s basketball team snapped a two-game skid and remained undefeated at home with a 67-58 Sun Belt Conference victory over Little Rock Friday night in front of a crowd of 6,367 at the Convocation Center.
A-State improved to 11-0 at home while running its record to 19-8 overall and 10-4 in Sun Belt action. Little Rock fell below .500 overall with a 13-14 mark and now stands 4-10 in league play.
The Red Wolves were led by three players scoring in double figures, including senior guard Devin Carter with a game-high 18 points. Junior guards Deven Simms and Rashad Lindsey added 16 and 10 points, respectively, while Tamas Bruce pulled down a game-best 10 boards.
Little Rock was paced by Jalen Jackson’s 16 points, and Marcus Johnson Jr. joined him in double figures with 10.
Arkansas State shot .468 from the field in comparison to Little Rock’s .446 percentage. The Red Wolves also held a 38-28 advantage on the boards, although the Trojans outscored them 36-26 in the paint and had two more second-chance points.
How It Happened (First Half):
The contest’s first eight minutes featured two ties and three lead changes, the last coming when sophomore guard Connor Kern hit a three that gave A-State a 10-9 advantage. The shot began a 10-0 run for the Red Wolves and they wouldn’t relinquish the lead the remainder of the half.
Arkansas State’s lead reached as much as 12 points, 27-15 at the 5:26 mark, in the first half, but Little Rock responded with a 9-1 run to pull back within four with 2:14 left before the break. The Red Wolves closed out the half by scoring five of the last seven points to take a 33-26 advantage into the locker room.
Carter scored 11 of his 18 points in the first half, which saw both team shoot 42 percent from the field. Seven A-State players scored in the opening 20 minutes, including Simms and Bruce with five points each. Bruce also recorded eight of his 10 rebounds in the half.
Howl It Happened (Second Half):
Little Rock began the second half with a 10-2 run to regain its first lead, 36-35, since seven minutes into the game. Still trailing 38-37 with 13:37 remaining, Arkansas State put together a 16-0 run over the next five minutes to claim a 53-38 lead.
A-State, which wouldn’t trail the rest of the night, matched its largest lead at 15 points almost one minute later when Little Rock began to chip away at the margin. The Trojans were able to get it down to five points on three different occasions, the last coming 63-58 with 44 seconds left.
However, the Red Wolves would score the game’s final four points at the free-throw line to secure the victory. Simms led A-State in the second half by scoring 11 of his 16 points.
Tonight’s home attendance of 6,367 was A-State’s largest since Feb. 28, 2008 (vs. ULM) – it’s final game as the Indians – with a crowd of 6,651.
Devin Carter scored in double figures for the 21st time this season and the 48th time of his career. He has now led the team in scoring 14 games this year. Carter made four three pointers to give him 173 for his career, moving him past Dewarick Spencer (2003-05) for the sixth most in school history.
Deven Simms reached a double-digit points total for the 17th time this season, while Lindsey hit the mark for the 13th time. Simms’ 16 points and six rebounds were both the second most on the team tonight, while his five assists led the squad.
Donte Thomas handed out four assists, giving him 158 this season to move him past Dereke Tipler (2004-05) for the seventh most in school history.
The Red Wolves improved to 15-0 this season when reaching 55 points first.
Quoting Coach McCasland:
“The crowd was amazing. You go on a 16-0 run and you could just feel the momentum build, and we had a good crew out there that was sharing the basketball and making extra-effort plays for each other. That was the game right there.”
“Give Little Rock credit because they kept competing. They got down 15, I think it was, and they got in that 2-2-1 and really slowed us down in transition. We ended up taking too much time trying to get through it.”
“(I’m) proud of the win. We had an unbelievable crowd and awesome atmosphere. I’m proud of Devin Carter because of the way he competed, and I thought he really made big plays.”
Arkansas State continues a three-game home stand Saturday, Feb. 25, when it hosts Georgia Southern at the Convocation Center at 7:00 p.m. With a 19-8 record, the Red Wolves will enter the game with an opportunity to win 20 games for the first time since the 1997-98 season.