ASU suffers first conference loss

JONESBORO, Ark. – The Arkansas State men’s basketball team was dealt its first Sun Belt Conference setback of the season Thursday night at First National Bank Arena, falling 73-52 against a hot-shooting UT Arlington squad that posted a season-high .525 field percentage.

A-State (10-4, 2-1) conversely couldn’t find its shooting touch as it connected on just 28 percent of its attempts, including a 2-of-9 mark from three-point range. UTA (5-9, 1-2) also pulled down nine more rebounds (42-33) and had three players scored in double figures to the Red Wolves’ one.

Melo Eggleston led A-State with 10 points, including nine in the second half, and he was followed by Marquis Eaton and Caleb Fields with eight and seven, respectively. Malik Brevard and Eggleston both finished with a team-best seven rebounds.

UTA went up 4-2 early and wouldn’t give up the advantage the rest of the game, extending their lead to double digits at 15-5 just five minutes into the contest. The Mavericks were able to push their first-half lead to as much as 16 points three times before taking a 37-24 advantage at the break.

The Red Wolves were able to pull back within 11 points on two different occasions early in the second half, but couldn’t get any closer. UTA’s lead reached 26 points as it outscored A-State 36-28 in the second half.

“The key to the game was our defense, and it was awful,” said A-State head coach Mike Balado. “It wasn’t a good showing by our team, they were better than us, and we deserved to get beat.

“I knew eventually that (UTA) would come out and start playing well, they’ve played an extremely tough schedule and played tough teams to close games. This is a good team we played, so I knew what kind of team we were facing going in and explained that to our guys. Hopefully this will be a wake-up call for us.”

UTA was led by Davis Steelman with a season-high 14 points, while David Azore and Jabari Narcis added 13 and 11 points, respectively. Narcis also finished with a double-double, pulling down a game-best 10 rebounds.

Arkansas State returns to action Saturday, when it hosts Texas State at 2 p.m. at First National Bank Arena.

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