Darrell Walker looked down toward his sneakers, sulked and began physically scratching his head.
It was a live-in-action version of a "head-scratching moment," a cliche the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's men's coach used publicly last week to describe his team's bad turnover habit.
That head was scratched plenty Saturday in Arkansas State University's 84-83 victory at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
Round 1 this season of Arkansas' only in-state, in-conference rivalry was puzzling.
Saturday's game was defined by UALR and ASU trading massive runs -- including a 42-11 run by Arkansas State and a 35-14, game-tying run by the Trojans late in the second half. Big leads were taken, then lost dramatically.Gallery: UALR vs ASU Mens Basketball
There were two versions of each team Saturday: When leading, each played too comfortably. When trailing, each were equally aggressive chasers.
"We got lucky, I'll be honest with you," Arkansas State Coach Mike Balado said.
The Trojans led by 14 points with 10:04 remaining after a spirited segment of the first half before 3,909 inside the Jack Stephens Center, the arena's largest crowd this season.
UALR controlled the tempo. It dictated the speed of the game. It was the Trojans' game to lose.
And they lost it.
"Little Rock is a very, very good team, even though they didn't play well for about 25 minutes of the game," Balado said.
UALR committed six of its 16 total turnovers in nine offensive possessions during the final 5:52 minutes of the first half. From then until halftime, Arkansas State went on a 21-5 run. UALR's lead had vanished and flipped into a 42-40 halftime deficit.
"We turned the ball over and over and over," Walker said. "And then they went boom, boom, boom and scored. Simple as that."
Arkansas State senior guard Ty Cockfield scored 18 of his 28 points in the first half. Cockfield, who was held to six points in ASU's 77-64 loss Jan. 26 against Coastal Carolina, made 10 of 19 shots Saturday and also had 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
The Red Wolves (10-12, 4-5 Sun Belt Conference) scorched UALR (7-15, 2-7) for another 12-2 run to begin the second half.
In all, Arkansas State clubbed the Trojans for a 42-11 run spanning 13-plus minutes.
"I thought the way we came out in the second half was very lackadaisical," Walker said. "We had no intensity. They got up in us and kind of took the game out of us with that big run.
"Then we had to press and trap to try to get us back in the basketball game. We did that. We made a very good run."
UALR unleashed a full-court press in the final five minutes -- and it worked.
The Trojans committed just 4 turnovers, acquired 7 steals and forced Arkansas State into 10 turnovers in the second half -- 8 of which came against UALR's full-court pressure.
"Our late-game execution was bad," Balado said.
Trailing 70-48, the Trojans put together a 35-14 run in the final eight-plus minutes. A three-pointer by junior guard Rayjon Tucker gave UALR an 83-82 lead with 12 seconds remaining.
Tucker, who had a team-high 23 points, fouled Arkansas State senior guard Grantham Gillard with 6.2 seconds left. Gillard, who scored 21, sank both free throws.
"I just knew it was money," Cockfield said.
UALR sophomore guard Jaizec Lottie handled the Trojans' final possession. He dribbled onto the right side of UALR's half and misfired a long two-point jumper short as the buzzer rang.
"We didn't finish it off," Walker said. "A good basketball game, but we lost."
Ty Cockfield had 28 points and 8 rebounds in Arkansas State’s 84-83 victory over UALR on Saturday at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
UALR’s Kris Bankston dunks during the second half of the Trojans’ 84-83 loss to Arkansas State on Saturday at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock. Bankston had 15 points as one of four Trojans in double figures.
Sports on 02/03/2019
Print Headline: Red Wolves run away in head-scratcher