Nothing’s settled! Sun Belt hoops continue to sizzle

The Sun, that big yellow ball in the center of our solar system, uses its tremendously dense and hot core to turn hydrogen into helium, creating an atomic fusion that scatters atoms to the surface of the sun, bursting into space in the form of electromagnetic radiation. We feel the heat on Earth.

The Sun is an winter breeze compared to Sun Belt Heat, my friends, and its atoms are bouncing around the college basketball universe creating a radiation no mere mortal can withstand (as Jeremy Adcock freely notes)!

Fortunately, I’m shielded by by super-strong intellect, and I can safely guide you through the chaos. Take my hand! Behold the new world disorder! 

Arkansas State began the Sun Belt Weekend early by pounding Little Rock to smithereens

The universe offers only one force more powerful than Sun Belt Heat, and that’s Luke Bryan. With the country music star scheduled to appear in Jonesboro and occupy the Convocation Center on Saturday, the Red Wolves moved its in-state rivalry with Little Rock to Friday.

The Red Wolves (19-8) were led to a 67-58 victory by the steady scoring of My Two Devs (Devin Carter, 18 and Deven Simms, 16) and 10 hard nosed rebounds from Tomas Bruce. The loss assured a losing conference record for Little Rock, who just last year dominated the conference in route to a trip (and first round win) to the NCAA Tournament.

Meanwhile, the Red Wolves are one victory away from a 20-win season under first year head coach Grand McCasland, and they remain undefeated at home. Yet, Arkansas State is still in second place because…

UT Arlington is the devil who took down the Georgias

The Mavericks spent the Sun Belt Weekend visiting foes in Georgia, and came away with a pair of big road wins over Georgia State and Georgia Southern.

On Saturday, the Panthers led the entire game, cruising behind Jeremy Hollowell’s 19 points. But the Mavericks, down by 15 deep in the second half, rallied behind Drew Charles’ 16 points and Kevin Hervey’s 10 boards, enabling 5’10” junior guard Eric Neal to drain a 35 footer with 2 seconds left to escape Atlanta with the win.

A shootout erupted on Monday in Statesboro between UTAs Hervey (5 three-pointers, 28 points) and the Sun Belt’s leading shooter, Ike Smith (4 three pointers, 27 points). But Hervey and Jorge Bilbao combined for 21 rebounds to dispatch Georgia Southern 81-71, handing the Eagles (17-11) their third loss in four games.

The Panthers and Eagles managed to split the weekend by earning victories over Texas State, who had no answers for Georgia Southern’s Tookie Brown (21 points) or Georgia State’s D’Marcus Simonds (18 points). The Bobcat’s Kavin Gildar-Tilbury had 22 and 12 points in the losing efforts.

Sun Belt Orbit, Week 7

As of this writing, the Sun Belt features two sub-100 RPI programs: UTA (35) and Arkansas State (80)

Sun Belt Standings (Feb 21)

  1. UT Arlington 11-3
  2. Arkansas State 10-4
  3. Georgia State 10-5
  4. Georgia Southern 10-5
  5. Coastal Carolina 9-6
  6. Texas State 8-6
  7. Troy 8-6
  8. Louisiana 6-8
  9. South Alabama 6-8
  10. Little Rock 4-10
  11. Appalachian State 3-12
  12. ULM 1-13

We can’t ignore Troy anymore, you guys

The Trojans of Troy have won 4 straight and 5 of its last six thanks to  6’6″ sophomore forward Jordon Varnado, who is straight up FIRE EMOJI. During Troy’s win streak, Varnado is averaging 23 points and 9.25 boards a game, pulling the Trojans to within 3 games of UT Arlington.

Coastal Carolina’s comeback win against South Alabama was clutch

The Chanticleers were 2-9 on the road before rallying against the Jaguars, riding double-doubles from Demario Beck and Colton Ray-St Cyr to a 81-77 overtime victory in Mobile. At 9-6, Coastal is only 2.5 game behind the Sun Belt leader and still relevant with three very winnable games (Louisiana, ULM and Appalachian State) left on the schedule.

Saturday was unreal with two buzzer beating wins

Yes, UT-Arlington’s last second 35-footer to ice Georgia State was a crushing blow to the Panthers, but more dramatic was Johnathan Stove’s 45 footer to destroy ULM, giving Louisiana a shocking 85-84 victory over its bitter in-state rival.

Game to Savor: Georgia State at Arkansas State, February 27th, 7 PM CST on ESPN3

Two of the Sun Belt’s most electric freshmen, D’Marcus Simonds of Georgia State (12.6 ppg) and Jahmiah Simmons of Arkansas State (6.2 ppg, 20 blocks), face each other in Jonesboro on Monday night.

 

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