JONESBORO, Ark. (12/18/19) – Behind a game-high 24 points from Marquis Eaton, the Arkansas State men’s basketball team opened Sun Belt Conference play with a 79-67 win over Louisiana Wednesday at First National Bank Arena.
A-State improves to 8-3 (1-0 Sun Belt) on the season and won its conference opener for the seventh-straight season and moves to 20-9 in Sun Belt Conference openers, 14-3 on the home floor. The Ragin’ Cajuns dropped to 5-6 (0-1 Sun Belt) with the setback.
“It was hard to get into any kind of flow tonight,” said A-State head coach Mike Balado. “Any time we would try to go on a run, we’d get a stoppage for a free throw or technical. I told our team that we have to do a better job of controlling our emotions. I know Louisiana got seven and we got a couple, but at the end of the day, it’s going to happen because kids are playing hard. We’ve got to be smarter with it. It was an ugly game, but in league play every game is going to be tough and you just have to come out with a victory.”
In a game that saw a combined 10 technical fouls and 59 personal fouls assessed, the two teams combined for 71 free throws. A-State converted 27-of-41 (.659) at the stripe while shooting 50 percent from the field (24-48) and 4-of-14 (.286) beyond the arc. The Ragin’ Cajuns were 21-of-30 (.700) at the free throw line, but the Red Wolves held the visitors to 37.5 percent (21-56) from the field and 4-of-16 (.250) from 3-point range.
Eaton poured in a season and game high 24 points to lead three Red Wolves in double figures and added a career high nine rebounds along with four assists. Coming off the bench, Caleb Fields added 18 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Jerry Johnson Jr. made his first start of the season and finished with 11 points and three assists. Cedric Russell led the Ragin’ Cajuns with 16 points.
The first half featured three ties and three lead changes with A-State holding the advantage for over 15 minutes of the frame. The Red Wolves led by as many as 11, 23-12, but held just a two-point advantage by halftime. The first 20 minutes saw the teams whistled for 34 personal fouls and seven of the 10 technical fouls.
The Ragin’ Cajuns grabbed led 44-43 with 16:45 to play in the second half, their first lead since early in the first half, but A-State responded with 7-0 spurt to regain the advantage. The Red Wolves led by at least three for the remainder of the half as the Ragin’ Cajuns cut the deficit to three, 64-61 with six minutes remaining, but A-State pulled away for the 12-point victory.
A-State continues league play at ULM on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. on ESPN+ before returning home for the non-conference finale against Freed-Hardeman on December 28 at 4:00 p.m.
Original article source: https://astateredwolves.com/news/2019/12/18/mens-basketball-red-wolves-open-league-play-with-win-over-ragin-cajuns.aspx | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council