Jonesboro, AR (A-State) – The Arkansas State men's basketball team suffered its first home loss of the season Saturday night at the Convocation Center, falling 72-60 against Georgia Southern in a Sun Belt Conference game.
The Red Wolves, now 11-1 at home, entered the game looking to claim a 20th victory for the first time since the 1997-98 season, but instead saw their overall record move to 19-9. A-State currently sits in fourth place in the Sun Belt standings with a 10-5 record, while Georgia Southern is tied with Georgia State for second place with an 11-5 mark. The Eagles also improved their overall record to 18-11.
Senior guard Devin Carter led A-State with 15 points and was joined in double figures by junior guard Deven Simms, but the Red Wolves shot a season-low 32.8 percent and tied their fifth-lowest scoring output this year.
Ike Smith posted a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds to pace the attack for Georgia Southern, which countered with a .478 shooting percentage while connecting on 7-of-14 three pointers. A-State hit just 4-of-23 three pointers (17.4 percent) and went 16-of-28 (57.1 percent) at the stripe.
Georgia Southern also outrebounded A-State 43-36 and scored 12 second-chance points, although it committed 18 turnovers to the Red Wolves 11. Arkansas State was able to score 18 points off the Eagles' miscues.
How It Happened (First Half):
Arkansas State jumped out to a 7-1 lead just over four minutes into the game, but Georgia Southern was able to tie the game at 8-8 by the 13:22 mark and took its first lead 20 seconds later on a bucket by B.J. Gladden. The Red Wolves and Eagles played through four ties and five lead changes the remainder of the first half.
With the score tied 28-28 with 4:13 left in the half, Georgia Southern went on a 9-4 run to go ahead by five points and eventually entered the break with a 37-34 advantage. Junior guard Rashad Lindsey scored all nine of his points in the first half and Carter added nine of his 15 as well to lead the Red Wolves.
How It Happened (Second Half):
Arkansas State held one lead, 44-43, briefly in the second half when Donte Thomas made his only three of the game with 15:46 remaining. The Eagles took the lead right back on their next possession off a Tookie Brown layup, although the Red Wolves were able to tie the game one more time at 46-46 with 14:18 left to play.
Georgia Southern then went on a 13-2 run over the next six minutes to open up the game's first double-figure lead a 59-48. The Red Wolves closed back within 67-60 at the 1:39 mark, but couldn't get any closer.
Devin Carter scored in double figures for the 22nd time this season and 49th time of his career. He has now led A-State in scoring during 15 games this year. He finished the game with a team-high three steals, which were his second most this season. Carter also made two shots from beyond the arc, running his career total to 175 and moving him into a tie for the fifth most in school history with Ryan Wedel (2006-08).
Donte Thomas moved his career assists total to 305, which ties Dereke Tipler (2004-06) for the eighth most ever by an A-State player.
Deven Simms scored in double digits for the 18th time this season and has now posted at least 15 points in eight of the last 10 games.
Jahmiah Simmons hauled in a team-high nine rebounds, which tied his career high originally set earlier this season against Appalachian State on Feb. 4. Tonight's game marked the fourth time this season he has led the team in rebounding.
Quoting Coach McCasland:
"For as well as we've played and found ways to win at home, tonight was a tough one for us. It's one thing to miss shots and to not make free throws, but it's another thing to feel like we are a half step behind coming up with loose balls that could've helped turn the tide. Considering as bad as we played offensively that we had a chance to win the basketball game against a team that does a great job scoring the basketball, you feel like you are fortunate and then you almost have to will your way in these games by coming up with loose balls. One huge stat for us tonight was we go 41 misses and we only come up with six second chance points off of 14 offensive rebounds. It just seemed like, even with all those misses you get opportunities to score, we couldn't get it to go even on that part of it.
We've been blessed. Our crowd was awesome tonight trying to get us back in it. We've been winning these games at home through some energy plays, even when we don't shoot it well, but tonight we came up short. Give Georgia Southern credit because they managed the game well enough, were tough enough, rebounded and came up with the loose balls.