“Last year and this year, my teams haven't guarded the way my previous teams have. We were one of the top five defensive teams in the conference and this team is not there. If we have a good possession, we don't get the rebound and they got two or three consecutive shots at one point.
“It's disappointing where our team is and we just need to get better. Coaches need to coach better and players need to play better. It's disappointing where we are with 16 games left. We've got to get it figured out.”
Since starting 1-0 in league play, A-State has dropped three consecutive conference games and now stands 6-7 overall. The Eagles picked up a victory for the fifth time over their last six games, improving to 9-3 overall and 2-1 in conference action.
The Red Wolves were led by three players scoring in double figures, including junior guard Cameron Golden with a team-high 17 points to go along with six assists that also led the squad. Sophomore guard P.J. Hardwick scored 12 points and sophomore forward Anthony Livingston added 11 for the Red Wolves.
A-State hit just two of its first 11 field goal attempts, and, combined with Georgia Southern's hot-shooting start, found itself trailing 29-5 after the game's first 12 minutes of action. Still down 20 with 2:21 left in the first half, the Red Wolves went on a 7-0 run to pull within 39-26.
A-State had an opportunity to pull even closer with six seconds left, but it was Georgia Southern that put the final first-half points on the board. Junior forward Charles Waters, who posted career-best numbers for points (8) and rebounds (6), missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity at the free throw line with six seconds left, and Georgia Southern's Angel Matias was able to hit a jumper as time expired to make the score 41-26 at the break.
A-State was able to regain the momentum early in the second half, outscoring the Eagles 14-7 over the initial eight minutes to pull within 48-40. However, Curtis Diamond responded with a three-point field goal, one of 11 on the night for Georgia Southern, which pushed the lead back to double figures.
The Diamond three-pointer also started a 20-7 run by the Eagles that extended their lead to 21 points, 68-47, with 4:30 left in the contest. A-State was able to get back within 10 points three different times down the stretch, but couldn't get any closer.
“We were beaten in every aspect of the game tonight, whether it's rebounding, 50-50 balls or defensively,” said A-State head coach John Brady. “We aren't good enough defensively, and that is disappointing for me as the coach. Last year and this year, my teams haven't guarded the way my previous teams have. We were one of the top five defensive teams in the conference and this team is not there.
“If we have a good possession, we don't get the rebound and they got two or three consecutive shots at one point. It's disappointing where our team is, and we just need to get better. Coaches need to coach better and players need to play better. It's disappointing where we are with 16 games left. We've got to get it figured out.”
Arkansas State improved its field goal percentage in the second half, but still hit just 38 percent of its shots in comparison to Georgia Southern's .500 mark from the field. The Eagles also connected on 55 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, while the Red Wolves made 31 percent.
Georgia Southern held a 43-24 advantage on the boards as well, led by Diamond with a team-high 10. Diamond also scored 12 points to collect a double-double, and he was one of five Eagles to reach double digits in the scoring column. Jelani Hewitt led all scorers with 18 points.
Arkansas State returns to action Jan. 10 at UT-Arlington in a 7:15 p.m. game. The Red Wolves play their next two games on the road before returning to Jonesboro for a two-game home stand starting against Texas State on Jan. 17 at 7:05 p.m.