JONESBORO, AR (ASU) – Sophomore forward Anthony Livingston scored a career-high 31 points, including the game-winning bucket, to lead the Arkansas State men's basketball team to an 81-80 Sun Belt Conference victory over Texas-Arlington Thursday night at the Convocation Center.
The Red Wolves, who have won back-to-back games for the first time since mid-January, improved their overall record to 11-15 and now stand 6-11 in Sun Belt play. UTA saw its overall record move to 15-12 and is 9-8 in league action.
In addition to his 31 points, Livingston's monster night included a game-high 15 rebounds that gave him his 13th double-doubles of the season. None of his points or rebounds were bigger than those that came down the stretch, specifically in the final seconds.
The second half featured 11 lead changes and eight ties, but the Red Wolves managed to build a 77-72 advantage with 3:25 left in the game. UTA had pulled back within 77-75 on a three when Livingston hauled in an offensive rebound and made two free throws with 1:56 left that put the Red Wolves back up by four.
However, the Mavericks answered with a layup by Lonnie McClanahan and a three by Erick Neal to take an 80-79 lead with 32 seconds remaining. A-State's next, and final, possession saw Livingston collect an offensive rebound and go back up to score the game-deciding basket with 13 second left. UTA had one final shot, but Neal's runner in the lane bounced off the rim as time expired.
Livingston was one of three A-State players to score in double-figures as junior guards Frederic Dure and Cameron Golden added 20 and 11 points, respectively. Dure, who recorded a career-high 22 points in his previous game, became the first Arkansas State player to reach 20 in back-to-back games since Livingston on Jan. 17 and 19.
Junior guard Sean Gardner came off the bench to add nine points, helping the Red Wolves score 80 or more points against a Sun Belt opponent for the first time this season.
While the second half was a back-and-forth battle, the first 20 minutes was highlighted by big runs from both teams. Leading by four points nearly midway through the half, the Red Wolves went on a 15-4 run to open up a 32-17 point lead, the largest of the game by either team, at the 6:09 mark.
The Mavericks answered by scoring 18 of the final 23 points of the first half, cutting A-State's lead to just 37-35 at the break.
Both teams hit 43 percent of their field goal attempts and made nine shots from beyond the arc, but the Red Wolves held a 43-34 advantage on the boards and made more free throws while also shooting a higher percentage at the charity stripe.
UTA was led by three players posting a double-figures point total, including Neal and Jamel Outler with 21 each. McClanahan added 11 points for the Mavericks.
Arkansas State returns to action Saturday, Feb. 28, when it will face Texas State in a 4:30 p.m. road game.
HEAD COACH JOHN BRADY QUOTES
vs. UTA, 2-26-15
I'm proud of our team and what they were able to do. This was another gutty win. It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough and that's all that counts. We had some guys play really well, but the two best plays were Anthony Livingston's offensive rebound and the last 14 seconds we defended them as well as we could do.
They were a little confused – we switched some screens, we made them take a bad shot, and they were kind of out of sync a little bit. They got a one handed and one legged runner, and then we were able to get the rebound and win the game.
Louisiana-Monroe missed one at the buzzer, and they (UT Arlington) missed one at the buzzer, but with everything that we have gone through our team is still competing. We deserved that. Our team played well together. We had a couple of careless turnovers, and we didn't communicate well a couple times down the stretch to get us in the right set in the offense we wanted to run. But at the end of the day it was good enough to win the game and that's what really matters.
I was proud of us – we got to the foul line 28 times and made 22. We shot it well from the foul line. Anthony Livingston was outstanding, Dure was really good again. We had enough complimentary plays from everybody to get the win. We rebounded the ball again pretty well tonight. Outside of the turnover situation, I thought it was a good game for us.
We need to get our rest and see if we can do it again Saturday night on the road. It's another step towards where we want to be in two weeks. We made some progress. We've got three (games) left, two at home. We have to keep fighting. I believe this team is going to do that. We won the game and it's good for us. It is something our team needed to do. I'm proud of our guys. It's about how they feel about themselves. It's been a tough couple of days, tough couple of games. We need to carry it over on the road Saturday.