Russell Leads Cajuns’ Comeback Over Arkansas State, 77-74
Cedric Russell isn't a senior.
But in the second half on Wednesday night, he played like one.
Russell scored 19 of his team high 22 points in the second half as the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit to defeat Arkansas State, 77-74 at the Cajundome.
Russell made seven of his twelve field goal attempts in the second half and hit four key free throws. But it was his three point shot from the top of the key with :41 left that gave the Cajuns the lead for good, 73-71.
P. J. Hardy scored 13 of his 19 points after intermission, while Jalen Johnson added 12 points and Malik Wilson chipped in ten.
Marquis Eaton led all scorers with a career high 28 points, 19 in the second half. Canberk Kus had a double double with 12 points and ten rebounds, while Caleb Fields scored eleven.
Hardy's triple off a fast break gave the Cajuns (12-17, 7-11 Sun Belt) an early 12-7 lead, but Arkansas State (15-15, 7-12) went on an 18-1 run to take a 25-13 lead with 7:43 to go in the first half and took a 37-25 lead into the locker room. Louisiana shot a dismal 25.7 percent (9-35) in the first half and just 3-17 from three point range. The Red Wolves, meanwhile, shot 53.8% on 14-26 shooting and hit 3-9 from beyond the arc.
Russell scored eight of his second half points in the first four minutes and a short jumper by Wilson cut the lead to 44-40 with 15:07 left. Arkansas State got the lead back to eight but a pair of triples by Hardy kept the Cajuns close, and a layup from Kristian Lafayette tied the game at 50 with 10:29 to go. Russell hit a bucket to give the Cajuns the lead and then, after a steal, threw an alley oop to Wilson for a slam and a 54-50 lead.to cap a 20-6 Cajuns' run.
A three pointer by Hardy have the Cajuns their biggest lead, 61-54 with 5:03 to play. But Antwon Jackson scored five points sandwiched around a pair of Russell free throws to cut the lead to four. An Eaton bucket made it a two point game with 3:20 to go and after Hardy made just one of three free throws, Eaton made a pair of free throws and hit a bucket to give Arkansas State the lead. Russell and Eaton traded buckets before Russell's triple gave the Cajuns the lead for good. Wilson and Russell each hit a pair of free throws for the final margin, as Fields and Eaton missed three point attempts in the final seconds.
The win keeps the Cajuns' hopes of a home game in the first round of the Sun Belt Tournament alive. The Cajuns travel to league leading Little Rock on Saturday, before closing out at home next Tuesday against Coastal Carolina.