JONESBORO, AR (astateredwolves.com) – Led by a season-high five players scoring in double figures, the Arkansas State men’s basketball team picked up a 104-71 non-conference victory over Arkansas-Monticello Saturday night at the Convocation Center.
The Red Wolves improved their home record to 3-1 and eclipsed 100 points scored at the Convocation for the first time since posting 108 against Lyon on Dec. 19, 2011. The victory snapped a four-game skid for the Red Wolves and brought their record to 3-6, while UAM dropped to 1-7 on the season.
“We needed a game like that,” said A-State head coach John Brady. “We played with great effort and got to the free throw line. If we can hold our opponents to 65 points or so from this point on we can win 17 games. We can score 75 or 76 points, but we have to defend around the goal. We had the effort that was necessary tonight, but we need to control the paint whether it’s rebounding or defending.”
Junior guard Devin Carter paced the Red Wolves offense with a game-high 20 points, giving the team a 20-point scorer in eight consecutive games. Fellow junior guard Donte Thomas added 19 points for A-State, and senior forward Kelvin Downs finished with a career-high 16. Also reaching double figures for A-State were senior center Nouhoum Bocoum and senior guard Sean Gardner with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
Arkansas State never trailed and was able to build a double-digit lead, 17-7, eight minutes into the contest. UAM went on an 11-4 run over the next three minutes to pull back within three, but wouldn’t get any closer the remainder of the game. The Red Wolves pulled back ahead 34-23 with 5:32 left in the first half and entered the break with a 55-35 advantage.
The Red Wolves, who have now scored 68 or more points in their first nine games for the first time since 2004-05, scored eight of the first 10 points to begin the second half and set the tone for the final 20 minutes of action. A-State went on to outscore the Boll Weevils 49-36 in the half to claim the 33-point victory.
Arkansas State shot a season-best 55.7 percent from the field and held Arkansas-Monticello to a 31.7 shooting percentage, the second lowest among all opponents this season. Thomas collected his first double-double this season, pulling down a team-high 10 rebounds to go along with his 19 points. The Red Wolves finished the game with a 45-36 advantage on the boards.
Additionally, A-State dished out its second most assists this season with 20, blocked four shots and recorded six steals. The Red Wolves hit 31-of-40 free throws for a .775 percentage, while UAM made 21-of-30 attempts at the charity stripe.
Four players scoring in double figures, including Richard Benedyth with a team-high 18 points, to lead UAM. Andre Brown led the Boll Weevils on the boards with nine rebounds.
The Red Wolves return to action Friday, Dec. 18, in a road contest at UT Martin. Tip off is set for 6 p.m.