SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (12/11/19) – Despite cutting an 18-point halftime deficit to as few as six points, the Arkansas State men’s basketball team was defeated 75-53 Wednesday night in non-conference action at Missouri State.
A-State (7-3) closed the non-conference road portion of the schedule with wins at Tulsa and Colorado State and enters league play with seven or more wins for the seventh time since the 2000-01 season. Missouri State (6-5) held A-State to 37.5 percent (18-48) from the floor, including 3-of-11 (.273) beyond the arc. The Red Wolves shot 14-of-16 (.875) at the charity stripe, but were out-rebounded 28-21. The Bears shot 57 percent (25-44) from the floor, 43 percent (6-14) from 3-point range and 19-of-23 (.826) at the free throw line.
“We lost this game in the first half,” said A-State head coach Mike Balado. “We didn’t come in ready and I can’t understand why. We practiced the same way we’ve practiced every day. Our guys just did not respect our opponent and Missouri State is a very good basketball team. They (Missouri State) played better tonight and were the better team and we lost that game in the first half.
I keep telling our team that we are playing with fire. We came back at Tulsa, we came back against Omaha and we came back at Colorado State, but I keep telling them if you are going to live by that we are going to be in trouble. Tonight, is a good learning experience for us.”
Three players finished in double figures for the Red Wolves led by 16 points from Canberk Kus. J.J. Matthews added 15 points and Jerry Johnson Jr. chipped in with 13 points off the bench. Keandre Cook had a game-high 17 points to lead Missouri State.
Facing an 18-point halftime deficit, A-State cut away at the deficit and an 8-0 run midway thru the second half saw the Red Wolves trail 51-45 with 9:22 to play. Missouri State answered with a 14-2 run to regain an 18-point advantage and went on to win by the final margin of 75-53.
After the Red Wolves scored the first bucket, Missouri State went on a 13-2 run and A-State was unable to recover and headed to halftime facing a 34-16 deficit. The Bears forced nine A-State turnovers in the first half and scored 15 points off those miscues.
“We’re looking forward to opening league play,” said Balado. “These guys are ready to go and we have to get ready to prepare for a very good team coming into our building. All bets are off when the conference schedule starts; 7-3 means nothing, we are 0-0. It’s great we are 7-3 and I’m happy with the way we’ve started, but now is where it gets tough. We’ve to go get back to work and get ready for a good opponent.”
A-State returns to First National Bank Arena to open Sun Belt Conference play against Louisiana on Wednesday, December 18 at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN+.