Jonesboro, AR (A-State) – Arkansas State couldn’t overcome a hot-shooting UT Arlington squad that hit a First National Bank Arena opponent record 15 three pointers Saturday night in a Sun Belt Conference men’s basketball game, falling 97-71 to the preseason league favorite.
The Red Wolves saw their overall record move to 6-13 and now stand 1-5 in conference play, while UTA improved to 12-7 overall and 3-3 against Sun Belt opponents.
Arkansas State was led by senior guard Deven Simms, who scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds – both team highs. While Simms was the only A-State player to score in double figures, junior guard Ty Cockfield recorded nine points and sophomore forward Salif Boudie, senior guard Rashad Lindsey and sophomore guard Connor Kern all added eight.
The Mavericks finished with a 61.1 field goal percentage, including a 15-of-27 performance from beyond the arc for a .556 percentage. While the Red Wolves posted 35 rebounds to UTA’s 33 and committed four fewer turnovers, they couldn’t keep pace with a .394 field goal percentage.
How It Happened (First Half):
A-State led only once early in the contest, but had the game tied 12-12 seven minutes in before UTA went on a 12-2 run to open up a double-digit lead with 10:59 remaining before halftime. The Mavericks’ run consisted of four made three pointers in five possessions as they went on to finish the first half with 10 made shots from beyond the arc.
UT Arlington shot 66 percent in the opening half and had two players in double figures by the break, claiming a 54-31 halftime advantage. Simms led the Red Wolves in the first half by scoring 12 of his 14 points.
How It Happened (Second Half):
The Red Wolves were outscored just 43-40 in the second half, but couldn’t get closer than 17 points, 62-45, with 13:18 remaining. Kern led the Red Wolves over the final 20 minutes by scoring all of his eight points, helping the squad improve its shooting percentage in the second half to 42.9 percent after making 36.1 percent of its shots in the first.
Quoting Coach Balado:
“We lost to a better team tonight. That team was preseason No. 1, and even though they are 3-3 in conference, I think they and Louisiana are two of the better teams in our league. Even though they lost to Little Rock, I think they found their groove tonight – it was just unfortunate that it was against us.”
“They were scorching hot to begin the game, and when you get shots to go in like that it is hard to come back, and I think sometimes that our guys aren’t understanding how important it is to guard and play defense, so I have to do a better job of coaching and teaching them.”
“We’ve got 11 games left in the league and the conference tournament, so we have to get it right because we still have a chance to win this thing in the end. We are going to keep working and do it the right way because there is no quit in this program.”
Arkansas State begins a three-game road trip on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Little Rock. Game time is slated for 5:00 p.m. at the Jack Stephens Center.