JONESBORO — Arkansas State won a blowout but wasn’t satisfied.
Not ASU coach John Brady. Not ASU seniors Trey Finn or Brandon Peterson. What ASU learned was there’s plenty of work to do.
Arkansas State picked up its first win of the season, running past Arkansas-Monticello 76-47 in a game that was never in doubt but didn’t produce the kind of results the Red Wolves were looking for Tuesday night at the Convocation Center.
"We need to get better," Brady said. "The score of this game is insignificant to what we’re trying to do. It has nothing to do with it. It’s about how we play and what we need to do to get better. We need to be more consistent offensively and defensively."
At least in one area Arkansas State (1-1) was much better than it had been in the opener at Dayton.
The Red Wolves played an intense man defense the entire evening and held UA-Monticello to 35.2 percent shooting. The Boll Weevils made just 28.6 percent of their shots in the first half as ASU opened a 41-22 lead, and finished the night 19-of-54 from the field.
The defensive end was the one aspect the Red Wolves thought they improved.
"As a team, we were more active on the ball, not letting the guys see passes and we contested shots a lot better," Finn said. "We were making it hard for them to hit them. I think we did that a lot better tonight."
Peterson had a double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds to lead Arkansas State while Finn and Ed Townsel supplied much of the offense from the backcourt. Finn was 6-of-7 shooting for 15 points, including three 3-pointers, while Townsel also buried three 3-pointers and scored 14.
But it was the Red Wolves’ inability to take better care of the basketball that appeared to be the biggest concern of all.
ASU committed 22 turnovers against UAM’s extended zone defense. Freshman point guard Cameron Golden had a team-high six while junior forward Kendrick Washington committed four.
"The biggest thing tonight was our turnovers," Finn said. "We had 22 turnovers. We need to bring that down tremendously, especially going on the road on Friday. We can’t have turnovers like that."
Sophomore point guard Rakeem Dickerson came off the bench to provide a nice spark.
Dickerson only scored three points, but he directed the offense well, delivering six assists without a turnover . He also played well defensively and is pushing Golden for playing time, according to Brady.
"Six assists, no turnovers in 21 minutes and he’s a tough, little competitive guy," Brady said. "He makes it difficult for the other teams guards and I was pleased with his play."
Arkansas State had no problem scoring against the Division II Boll Weevils.
ASU made eight of its first 13 shots and led 21-7 on Townsel’s 3-pointer from the win just over seven minutes in. The lead hovered 12 and 16 points for the next 12 minutes before a late scoring burst pushed it to 19 at the break.
Peterson dominated early, scoring seven points and grabbing four rebounds in the first six minutes. He was active inside, pursuing loose balls on both ends and dropped in a couple of rebound putbacks along with a soft hookshot from about eight feet.
"I was just playing hard, being active the whole game," Peterson said. "I was getting after it pretty much and doing what I was supposed to do — rebound and just fly around like Coach Brady says."
Dickerson was instrumental in a late flurry.
He zipped a pass through the Boll Weevils’ zone defense to Washington for a layup, then found Finn open on the wing for a 3-pointer that put ASU up 41-22 at the break. Dickerson had a pair of steals and a couple similar passes in the second half that led to buckets as Arkansas State pulled away.
"Basically, yesterday we went over their defense and we swapped out basically played against their D," Dickerson said. "I saw some (passing) lanes and made the plays tonight."
Washington provided a solid effort inside with 13 points and six rebounds as ASU finished with four in double figures. But it was the 22 turnovers and 9-of-17 shooting from the free-throw line that stood out to the Red Wolves despite the lopsided outcome.
When asked were they satisfied with the 29-point win, Finn, Peterson and Dickerson simultaneously responded "No."
"Them being a Division II team, regardless of what division they are in, we wanted to come out tonight and work on the things we haven’t been doing well, which is field goal percentage and turnovers and free throws," Finn said. "I believe tonight we accomplished one of those goals and got the field goal percentage down. Now we just need to get out turnovers down and put it all together on Friday."
Arkansas State returns to action on Friday at Ohio Valley Conference member Tennessee-Martin. The Red Wolves thumped UTM at home last year 63-45.
Brady was encouraged with some aspects of the win but discouraged with others. He indicated practice would be interesting the next couple of days.
"I thought we were pretty active (defensively) for the most part and I thought we tried to rebound the ball," Brady said. "We seem to be able to score and shoot it a little bit from the perimeter. But our 22 turnovers in that game is not good enough to go win on the road and 9-for-17 from the free-throw line is not good enough to go win on the road. We need to be consistent in more phases of the game than we are right now."