Devin Carter scored 33 points, including 24 in the second half and overtime, to lead the Arkansas State men’s basketball team to a 79-73 victory over South Alabama Thursday at the Convocation Center.
Carter scored his 33 points, one shy of his career high, on 13-of-20 (.650) shooting and 6-of-11 (.546) from 3-point range. Anthony Livingston added 20 points and eight rebounds and Charles Waters chipped in eight points and eight rebounds. Georgi Boyanov led the Jaguars with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
With the win, A-State improves to 11-11 on the season and remains in third place in the Sun Belt with a 7-4 record. The loss dropped South Alabama to 9-13 overall and 4-7 in league play.
“I’m tickled to death for our team,” said A-State head coach John Brady. “That’s what it’s about anyways; it’s the players and seeing them after a game like that. The longer I coach, and the older I get, I get more emotional, and emotionally involved in the players, in terms of how they feel after a win and a loss. It makes me feel so good to see them with a sense of accomplishment after a game like that.
Playing in overtime for the third time in conference play, all at home, the Red Wolves outscored South Alabama 10-4 in the extra frame. After the Jaguars opened the overtime period with a second chance bucket, Carter buried a trey to put A-State up 72-71. South Alabama regained the lead, 73-72, on the next possession, but it took two offensive rebounds for the Jaguars to convert.
The two teams traded missed opportunities before the Red Wolves set up out of a timeout and fed Livingston in the post. Livingston powered home a layup, was fouled and converted the three-point play to give A-State a 75-73 lead with 44 seconds remaining. South Alabama raced to the other end, missed a shot and got the offensive rebound, but Waters blocked the follow attempt and corralled the ball before being fouled.
Waters knocked down both free throws to give the Red Wolves a 77-73 led with 23 seconds left. Out of a timeout, the Jaguars attempted a jumper, but Livingston grabbed the rebound forcing the Jaguars to foul again. Livingston, who finished 8-for-8 at the free throw line, knocked down another pair to set the final score.
A-State took a 35-26 lead into halftime, but South Alabama outscored the Red Wolves 19-7 in the first 5:34 of the second half to grab a 45-42 lead. Carter scored 15 of the next 17 points for the Red Wolves to see the score knotted at 55-55 with 9:51 left.
South Alabama used a 10-4 run to grab their largest lead of the night, 65-59, with 7:15 remaining. The Red Wolves responded by getting the ball inside to Livingston and the big man converted a three-point play to pull A-State within three, 65-62, with 6:34 left.
The two teams traded layups and South Alabama led 69-64 with 4:17 remaining, but the Red Wolves defense held the Jaguars scoreless to the final horn of regulation. Livingston drained a jumper with 3:25 remaining to make it 69-66 and Carter hit the game-tying three with 1:18 left in the second half to make it 69-69. Over the final 4:17 of the second half, South Alabama was 0-for-7 from the field, including 0-for-3 from 3-point range, after starting the half 15-for-31 (48.4 percent) from the field and 7-for-14 (50 percent) from long range.
“We weren’t sharp; we didn’t have a lot of energy it seemed during the course of the game,” Brady said. “We gave up to many offensive rebounds, they got 20 offensive rebounds, and we were still able to win the game. We took too many shots fakes, we weren’t as disciplined defensively as we needed to be, but the last five minutes of the game and the overtime we did guard better, came up with some big stops and got a couple of rebounds.
“And I’ll tell you what else we did the last five minutes, we listened coming out of the timeouts, and got the timeout out into the game, and we got the ball to Anthony and Devin, and got the right people scoring the ball. We did it in the last few minutes of regulation, and we did it for sure in overtime, and that’s what I was proud of. We found a way to win, and I’m so proud of what our team was able to do.”
Five players combined to score six or more points in the first half as the Red Wolves carries a 35-26 lead to halftime. The nine-point advantage at the half equaled the largest margin for either team in the first half that featured three ties and four lead changes.
Carter pulled in three offensive rebounds in the first half and used two of those to convert four second chance points. The four point stretch helped A-State pull ahead from a 24-21 lead to a 28-21 lead with four minutes left in the half.
The Red Wolves ended the game shooting 37.9 percent (25-66) from the field and 33.3 percent (8-24) from 3-point range. Despite shooting 39.5 percent (15-38) in the second half, the Jaguars finished 32.9 percent (27-82) for the night including 29.7 percent (11-37).
South Alabama finished with a 49-48 edge on the glass and the Jaguars had 20 offensive rebounds to hold a 17-6 advantage in second chance points. A-State was 21-for-24 (87.5 percent) at the charity stripe, including a perfect 5-for-5 in overtime, while the Jaguars were 8-for-11 (72.7 percent).
Arkansas State returns to action Saturday, Feb. 6, with a 7:00 p.m. home game against Troy.