The Arkansas State Red Wolves had not won a game against the Trojans in Little Rock since 2011, when the immortals Trey Finn and Rashad Allison let A-State to a 71-63 victory to close out the season. At halftime of Saturday’s contest, with UALR up by 12 points and shooting a blistering 65% from the floor, it appeared that another year would be tacked to the streak.
Whatever first year head coach Grant McCasland said to the team at halftime should be patented, bottled and sold at a premium price. Because a completely different Red Wolves team emerged from the visitor’s locker room at the Jack Stephens Center.
Devin Carter, the Red Wolves’ leading scorer, took over the floor, sinking buckets and waking up the defense. When Carter wasn’t scoring, junior guard Deven Simms was, uniting to create an unstoppable Voltron-like basketball robot whose sole purpose was to bury the Trojans with an ass ton of points. It was liking watching a really good magic trick. But instead of David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear, it was The Great McCasland making the Red Wolves reappear from the ether. Does this sound dramatic? IT’S NOT DRAMATIC ENOUGH! I was there, dude.
Sure, Little Rock was a little short handed. First year head coach Wes Flanigan worked without injured inside man Lis Shoschi, and the Red Wolves seem to have trouble with inside size. But Flanigan may have surprised the Red Wolves by focusing production in the paint with Maurius Hill rather than working the margins with sharp shooter Marcus Johnson. It was a sound strategy. It would have probably worked on a normal night. But Arkansas State was simply too sizzling. Final score, 77-72.
Have the Red Wolves rebounded?
A-State looks good heading into a home stand with South Alabama and a tough Troy squad. But is this young team really ready to make a run at the Sun Belt? The Red Wolves that arrived for the second half of the UALR game are the Red Wolves who upset Georgetown, Chattanooga and Lehigh. The first half Red Wolves was the lackluster squad destroyed by the Chanticleers and Mountaineers. If McCasland can squeeze the bellows and maintain the heat, A-State will be a contender come Sun Belt Tournament time.
Sun Belt Orbit, Week 3
Sun Belt Standings (Jan 17)
- Georgia Southern 5-0
- Coastal Carolina 4-1
- UT-Arlington 3-2
- Arkansas State 3-2
- Texas State 3-2
- Georgia State 3-2
- Louisiana 2-3
- Little Rock 2-3
- Troy 2-3
- South Alabama 2-3
- Appalachian State 1-4
- ULM 0-5
Conference Recap, January 14-16
There was zero home court advantage in the Sun Belt this week
Wanna hear something nuts? Every Sun Belt victory this week, Saturday and Monday, came on the road. Every. Single. One. A perfect 10 out of 10. Wow.
Ike Smith and Tookie Brown are the Crocket & Tubbs of the Sun Belt
The Sun Belt’s two leading scorers play guard for Georgia Southern Eagles – Smith leads the conference with 22.2 points per contest, and Brown is right behind him at 17.4. Behind the duo’s scoring, the Eagles are posting the third-most points in conference (79.6), fueling their lightning hot 5-0 start.
The Mavericks’ roadshow horror ended in Mobile
Kevin Hervey returned from a knee injury to lead UT-Arlington over South Bama on Monday with 23 points, ending a two game losing streak that saw defeats at Texas State and Troy. The preseason Sun Belt favorite receives what should be a breather on Saturday night when the woeful Warhawks stagger into Arlington.
Touching the Sun: Georgia Southern
The Eagles have won six in a row, are 5-0 in conference, and just secured Sun Belt road wins over South Alabama, Louisiana and ULM. Georgia Southern, picked to finish 4th in the SBC Preseason Coaches Poll, looks like a legitimate contender.
Plunging to Earth: Louisiana
After blowing out UALR in Little Rock on national TV, it appeared that the Cajuns were poised to make a Sun Belt run. But consecutive home losses to Georgia Southern and Georgia State imply that there is more work left to be done in Lafayette.