MOBILE, AL (A-STATE) – Behind a triple-double by Donte Thomas and a double-double by Anthony Livingston, the Arkansas State men's basketball team improved to 2-0 in Sun Belt play with a 89-67 win at South Alabama Saturday.
Thomas finished with 14 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for the third triple-double in A-State (6-7, 2-0 SBC) program history and fifth by a Sun Belt player in a conference game since the 1998-99 season. Livingston collected his second double-double in league play and 21st in his Red Wolves' career with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Five players finished in double-figures for the Red Wolves, who have scored 68 or more points in 13-straight games for the first time since the 1972-73 season. Devin Carter posted his sixth 20-point game, scoring 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in the second half. Sean Gardner had 12 points, shooting 8-of-10 at the charity stripe, while Nouhoum Bocoum scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench. Ken Williams led South Alabama (5-8, 0-2 SBC) with a game-high 23 points.
"I'm proud of our players of winning back-to-back on the road," said A-State head coach John Brady. "Our chemistry is improving and we are playing better together. That's probably the best second half we've played, without question, all year. We rebounded well consistently and we defended well too."
The Red Wolves, who led by as many as 15 in the first half, carried a 35-33 lead at the halftime break. After A-State scored the first bucket of the second half on a Charles Waters elbow jumper, South Alabama used a free throw and jumper to cut the lead to 37-36, but that would be as close the Jaguars could get.
A-State proceeded to go on a 10-0 run the next three minutes to grab a 47-36 advantage with 16:09 remaining. The Jaguars trimmed the lead to 49-44, but A-State responded once again with an 11-0 run to lead 60-44 with 11:59 showing on the clock. In that span, Carter drained three treys on three attempts to spark the Red Wolves.
Behind 70 percent (19-27) shooting in the second half, A-State outscored South Alabama 54-34. The Red Wolves attempted just five three pointers in the second half (3-5/60 percent) while commanding the paint to the tune of a 42-24 edge on the game.
The Red Wolves scored the first six points of the game and built a 24-9 advantage. A nearly four-minute scoring drought allowed South Alabama to get back in the game, but the Jaguars only grabbed five points in that span. South Alabama used a 10-3 run to cut the Red Wolves first half lead to 27-19 and a 10-2 run over the final two minutes to get the halftime score to 35-33.
A-State finished the game shooting 54.1 percent (33-61) from the floor, it's second-straight league game over 50 percent shooting. The Red Wolves also went to the free throw line more than their opponents in a road game for the first time this season, shooting 18-of-23 (78.3 percent) while South Alabama was 14-of-22 (63.6 percent) at the charity stripe.
For the 13th-straight game, A-State logged 10-plus assists as the Red Wolves dished out 19 assists on 33 made field goals. In two games of league play, A-State has 39 assists on 64 made field goals.
Livingston and Thomas combined for 21 of the Red Wolves' 45 rebounds on the afternoon. A-State ended the day with a 45-35 edge on the glass, the ninth time this season to record 40 or more rebounds after doing so just eight times over all of the 2014-15 season.
"I'm proud of our players for where we are now, but we need to use the success we've had in practice and take advantage of home games," Brady said. "We have to defend the home court over these next four games. Our team has a great feel to it now and I couldn't be more proud."
The Red Wolves open a four game homestand with ULM (6-7, 2-0 SBC) visiting the Convocation Center Thursday for a 7:30 pm contest. A-State will look to start 3-0 in league play for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
A-State Program History (3)
Donte Thomas at South Alabama (1/2/2016) : 14 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds
Dereke Tipler at Troy (2/1/2006): 14 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds
Jason Jennings vs Morris Brown (12/18/2000): 31 points, 11 blocks, 10 rebounds
Since 1998-99, there have now been five (5) triple-doubles in a Sun Belt conference game. (Credit: Randy Lieberman)
Donte Thomas (Arkansas State) at South Alabama (1/2/2016) : 14 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds
Elfrid Payton (UL Lafayette) at ULM (1/4/2014): 34 points, 11 assists, 11 rebounds
Orlando Mendez-Veldez (Western Kentucky) vs Troy (1/1/2009): 18 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds
Michael Southall (UL Lafayette) vs North Texas (1/5/2006): 19 points, 12 rebounds, 11 blocks
Dereke Tipler (Arkansas State) at Troy (2/1/2006): 14 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds