JONESBORO, Ark. (1/11/20) – Down by as much as 12 in the second half with under seven minutes to go, Arkansas State did as they have done many times before, battling back to take an exciting 76-68 overtime victory over Troy Saturday afternoon at First National Bank Arena.
Marquis Eaton led all scorers with 24 points, as four players scored in double figures for the Red Wolves (12-6, 4-3 SBC). A-State forced the Trojans (7-11, 3-4) into 23 turnovers, swiping a season-high 19 steals. Seven of the Red Wolves’ 12 wins have come despite trailing by eight or more in a game.
“Obviously a very exciting basketball game,” head coach Mike Balado said. “Every game in this league is very tough. Hats off to Coach (Scott) Cross and Troy. He’s been successful in this league for many years. It was a great basketball game tonight. I was very proud of the fight and comeback that we always do, but I think the thing that stood out tonight was our toughness.”
Melo Eggleston recorded his second double-double of the year, tallying 12 points to go along with 10 boards. Caleb Fields added 17 points on 4-of-9 shooting (3-of-5 from three), while also dishing out five assists. Canberk Kus rounded out double-digit scorers for the Red Wolves, scoring 10, with six of his points coming at the free-throw line. Eaton also passed out five assists.
A-State once again posted a strong assist percentage, handing out 15 assists on 22 field goals. In the steals, column, both Malik Brevard (7) and Eaton (5) recorded career-best numbers. Brevard’s total was one shy of tying the school record for steals in a single game.
As a team, A-State shot 41.5 percent (22-of-53) from the field, in addition to 25-of-38 from the free-throw line (65.8 percent). The Trojans shot 45.5 percent (25-of-55) from the field. The Red Wolves out-rebounded Troy 38-to-32.
Darian Adams led Troy with 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting (3-of-7 from three) and six rebounds. Tahj Small added 11 points while Jakevan Lefridge brought down a team-high seven rebounds.
The teams traded buckets for the first part of the second half before A-State took an 11-10 lead with 9:52 to go on a pair of free throws by Christian Willis. Those were part of an 11-0 run by the Red Wolves that put them ahead 19-10 with 7:25 to go.
Troy battled back to make it a four-point contest with 6:40 to go on a 5-0 run, but A-State managed to stretch its lead back out to a 10-point lead on layups by J.J. Matthews and Jerry Johnson with 3:38 left.
After Johnson knocked down a free throw with 2:56 to go, the Trojans closed the half on a 7-0 run to give the Red Wolves a 28-26 lead going into the locker room at the half.
The Trojans opened the half on a 10-2 run to lead 36-30 with 14:42 to go and worked that lead out to as much as 12 with 6:43 remaining. But that’s when the Red Wolves picked up the intensity another notch and clawed back.
After Adams drained another trey with 5:39 left to make it 57-47 Trojans, the Red Wolves held Troy scoreless for over four minutes and without a field goal for nearly six minutes. A-State went on a 12-0 run that returned the lead back to the Scarlet and Black, capped off by a layup by Eggleston with 1:51 to go.
Troy tied things up with a jumper by Adams that ultimately forced overtime, as A-State’s jumper rattled in and out before time expired.
A-State opened the overtime period strongly, scoring 10 unanswered to lead 71-61 with under a minute to go. The Trojans would struggle to get to within two scores, as a Small trey cut it to six with nine seconds to go. A second later, Fields would sink two free throws to make it an eight-point game with eight seconds left, putting the game out of reach.