After opening Sun Belt Conference play with a pair of road victories the schedule breaks nicely for the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
Well, somewhat nicely.
After victories at Troy (84-81) and South Alabama (89-67), the Red Wolves face four straight road games, but they are against three of the better teams in the league.
A-State, which is 4-1 at home, has UL-Monroe, the preseason pick for third in the Sun Belt, at home on Thursday and pre-season favorite UL-Lafayette on Saturday. After a week off the Red Wolves face Appalachian State and preseason surprise UALR (12-1) is scheduled for the Convocation Center on Monday, Jan. 18.
“I’m proud of our players for where we are now, but we need to use the success we’ve had in practice and take advantage of home games,” said coach John Brady, whose team has defeated South Alabama for the sixth time in seven games. “We have to defend the home court over these next four games. Our team has a great feel to it now and I couldn’t be more proud.
“We have put ourselves in a good position. Hopefully, with the next four games at home we can capitalize on that.”
In the victory at South Alabama, junior Donte Thomas turned in the third triple-double in school history, with 14 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Junior Anthony Livingston had 22 points and 11 rebounds. In all five players hit double figures. Junior Devin Carter scored 20, senior Sean Gardner 12 and senior Nouhoum Bocoum 10.
Arkansas State was the preseason pick for fourth but three of its most experienced players are no longer on the roster for various reasons.
“Our team has a nice feel about it, a nice way; some good leadership,’’ said Brady. “I couldn’t be prouder of what they have done these last two games, particular on the road.
“I like the way we distribute our shots. Our best players are shooting the most shots and that is the way it ought to be and that is a team that understands its purpose, and why it is playing and who the best players are and we need to get them the ball.”
A-State was winless in six road games before the trip to Alabama. The Red Wolves won three road games in league play a year ago – USA, Troy and Appalachian State.
“Hopefully we get home and have some good practices and really defend the home court when we get home,’’ said Brady. “We have got to handle the success. That is part of the continuing success is recognizing what you have done to get you to this point. It’s been a small amount of success but it has been a big confidence booster for our team. We believe in one another and trust one another and now."