JONESBORO, Ark. (2/27/17) – Five players scored in double figures to lead the Arkansas State men’s basketball team to its 20th win of the season, a 78-67 Sun Belt Conference victory over Georgia State Monday night at the Convocation Center.
With two games remaining before their appearance in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, the Red Wolves have already tied the school record for regular-season victories and stand 20-9 overall. The last time A-State won 20 regular-season games was the 1997-98 season, while the program also reached the mark in 1990-91 and 1988-89.
Senior guard Devin Carter scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Red Wolves on their Senior Night, and the squad completed its regular-season home schedule with a 12-1 record at the Convo. With the victory, A-State improved to 11-5 in league play to maintain its hold on one of the Sun Belt Tournament’s first-round byes awarded to the top four finishers in the conference.
Carter was joined in double figures by Jahmiah Simmons (15 points), Deven Simms (13), Rashad Lindsey (12) and Connor Kern (12). Simmons also led A-State on the boards with a career-high 11 rebounds, giving the freshman forward his first double-double of the season.
Georgia State, which had three players score in double digits, had its two-game winning streak snapped and now stands 18-11 overall and 11-5 in Sun Belt action. Jeremy Hollowell paced the Panthers’ attack with a team-high 15 points, while D’Marcus Simonds and Willie Clayton added 14 and 10, respectively.
One game after setting season lows for both field goal and three point percentage, the Red Wolves responded by shooting 45.1 percent from the floor and making 9-of-19 shots from beyond the arc (47.4 percent). A-State also capitalized on its opportunities at the stripe, hitting 23-of-31 free throws for a .742 percentage.
Conversely, A-State limited Georgia State to a .362 field goal percentage and .308 mark from three-point range. The Red Wolves also outrebounded GSU 44-36, although they committed nine turnovers to the Panthers’ six.
How It Happened (First Half):
The first half was a back-and-forth battle that featured seven ties and six lead changes. Neither team led by more than five points until Lindsey hit a free throw to set the halftime score at 34-28 in favor of the Red Wolves.
Georgia State was unable to grab more than a two-point lead the entire night. The Panthers held their last advantage when Hollowell hit a jumper to make the score 24-23 with 6:25 left on the clock. A-State was able to outscore them 11-4 the remainder of the half, however, to take a six-point lead into the break.
Simmons, who finished the game only one point shy of his career high, was responsible for a team-best 11 points in the first half, which also saw him haul in six of his 11 rebounds.
How It Happened (Second Half):
Still leading by just five points, 51-46, just over seven minutes into the second half, A-State was able to put together a 13-4 run to take a 64-50 advantage with 7:26 remaining. Carter led the run with six points over the stretch, while Kern chipped in with a three, Simms hit two free throws and Lindsey added a jumper.
A-State was able to match the 14-point lead, its largest of the game, two more times down the stretch, the last at the 4:09 mark (69-55). The Panthers were able to pull back within nine points on two occasions, but couldn’t get any closer.
A-State won 12 home games for the seventh time in 30 seasons at the Convocation Center.
The Red Wolves’ five players scoring in double figures matched a season high. They also had five players score at least 10 points in a victory over Lehigh on Nov. 27 and improved to 9-0 this year when four players reach the mark.
Devin Carter became the 27th player in Arkansas State history to score 1,000 points in a career, but just the third to do so in just two seasons played. He reached at least 20 points for the 12th time this season and 27th time of his career.
Carter made four three-point field goals, running his career total to 179 and moving him past Ed Townsel (176 from 2010-14) for the fourth most in school history. He now has 91 this season alone, moving him from sixth to second on A-State’s single-season list. The school record is 97, recorded by Adrian Banks in 2006-07.
A-State’s nine turnovers committed were only one more than their fewest this season, recorded in five previous games. The Red Wolves’ 23 made free throws were just three shy of their season high, posted against Little Rock on Jan. 14.
“When you write the story for these seniors and the way this game went tonight, I don’t know if you could write it any better. Two things that stand out to me that I love is we’ve got Devin Carter and Donte Thomas, two guys that averaged more (points) than they did this year and both of them thanked their teammates after this game. To see them tell their teammates how much they love being part of this team, love winning and being part of this program. Their unselfish is off the charts. At halftime, they said we would be judged by one thing, how we win. I just love coaching those guys. The atmosphere in this building for them, to honor them, to have this great of a turnout was a cool thing to have. The Convo was fantastic tonight and it’s been fun watching it grow this season. It’s a credit to those seniors and a fun way to end our season in the Convocation Center.
I knew we would respond tonight and we did. One reason I knew we would respond is because we sat in this very room and Devin Carter stood up here and said, ‘I didn’t do a good enough job on gap help.’ Donte stood up here and said, ‘I got to do a better job of running the team and making plays for other people.’ Honestly, if both of those guys are going to stand up here and take responsibility for it, I knew we were going to win. You don’t have very many great feels, but I had a great feeling about this one because of the unselfishness by those seniors.”
A-State closes the regular season with a two-game road trip to Alabama. The Red Wolves visit Troy for a 7:30 p.m. matchup Thursday night before closing the season at 3:05 p.m. Saturday at South Alabama.