STATESBORO, Ga. (1/4/18) – The Arkansas State men's basketball team suffered a 80-49 loss at Georgia Southern on Thursday to begin a two-game Sun Belt Conference road swing in Georgia.
The loss drops A-State to 6-10 (1-2 SBC) on the season while Georgia Southern improved to 11-5 (2-1 SBC). Ty Cockfield and Deven Simms led the Red Wolves in scoring with 10 points each while Grantham Gillard had a season-best nine rebounds to go with eight points. Tookie Brown paced the Eagles with 20 points.
A-State shot 35 percent (20-58) from the field and just 15 percent (4-27) from 3-point range. The Red Wolves also struggled at the charity stripe hitting just 5-of-14 (36 percent). Georgia Southern finished 48 percent (33-69) overall and 36 percent (9-25) beyond the arc and also struggled at the line hitting 39 percent (5-13). The Eagles out-rebounded A-State 47-37 and held a 48-30 advantage in the paint.
How It Happened (First Half):
A 12-4 run, including a four point play to open the scoring, helped Georgia Southern to an early lead. A scoring drought of more than five minutes saw Georgia Southern earn a 31-9 advantage. The Eagles held a 34-12 lead with 9:12 left in the half, before A-State cut into the deficit.
A 7-0 run saw the deficit trimmed to 13 points, 34-21, with 3:39 to play in the half. After a Georgia Southern bucket, Gillard drained a 3-pointer to make the score 36-24, but the Eagles closed the half on an 8-2 run to lead 44-26.
A-State finished the first 20 minutes shooting 35 percent (10-29) from the field, 21 percent (3-14) from 3-point range and just 30 percent (3-10) at the charity stripe. Georgia Southern shot 50 percent (17-34) from the floor and 43 percent (6-14) beyond the arc, but also struggled at the free throw line hitting just 36 percent (4-11). The Eagles outscored A-State 22-14 in the paint, 8-0 on the fast break and 11-5 off turnovers. Georgia Southern also held a 27-18 advantage on the glass.
How It Happened (Second Half):
A-State pulled within 46-31 with 18:06 to play, but Georgia Southern used runs of 13-2 and 9-0 to gain a sizeable advantage of 72-39 with 8:26 to play. The Eagles were able to finish off the win by a score of 80-49, outscoring A-State 36-23 in the second half.
The Red Wolves were just 1-for-13 (7 percent) from 3-point range in the second half and hit 35 percent (10-29) from the field. Georgia Southern cooled off to 46 percent (16-35) from the floor and 27 percent (3-11) from 3-point range in the final 20 minutes.
- A-State used its seventh different combination of a starting five.
- Grantham Gillard brought in a season best nine rebounds. His previous best came in the last game with five against Louisiana.
- With the loss, A-State has lost nine-straight in the series to Georgia Southern and falls to 0-6 against the Eagles in Sun Belt Conference action.
- The 49 points scored were the fewest by an A-State team since a 74-43 loss at Georgia State on Jan. 31, 2015.
- Ty Cockfield reached double figures for the 13th time in 16 games.
- Deven Simms scored 10 or more points for 12th time in 16 games and 34th time in his career.
Quoting Coach Balado:
"I don't know what team was out here tonight for us. I'd like to find my team, because the guys that showed up tonight were not the guys I've been coaching the last month. We were 4-for-27 from three, 5-of-14 from the free throw line. We are a better free throw shooting team than that. It wasn't a team that I've been coaching and I've got to find those guys soon because we play again Saturday."
"Here's the thing that people have to understand. I'm trying to build a program the right way. This is not a one year, band-aide, one and done leave and find another job. I've made a commitment to this University, athletic director Terry Mohajir and the community to build a good program. I'm going to do this the right way. I'm not going to sacrifice winning and losing to allow young men to do what they want to do. I'm not doing it, because I'm hurting them for the future. This program standard is you do things the right way, you practice hard and you do act the right way every time, because if you don't there are consequences. It's tough because some guys put us in a position to have what happened tonight. It's a shame too, because you can't tell me that the same guys in uniform tonight were the same guys 12 or 14 days ago at Wichita State. When guys come out inconsistent at practice, this is what happens. I'm going to send a message to everybody, if you want to come to Arkansas State, I'm going to hold you to a higher standard. This is what this program is about, and if you don't do that, there will be consequences. I will sacrifice wins and losses to make sure this program is run the right way."
"This program needs to improve to be consistently good. In order to do that, you have to put in your morals, characteristics and values and embed them from the beginning. You have to hold to those from the beginning or the minute you don't, a snow ball affect occurs three or four years down the road. I don't want to lose games, I'm not sacrificing losses, but I'm going to make sure that my players understand that the standard I have set for this program is a championship program. The way these guys have acted the last two or three days in practice, has not been a championship caliber program."