SOUTHAVEN, Miss. - No. 13 Arkansas Tech used a 16-0 run in the opening minutes of the Saturday's Gulf South Conference Tournament semifinal game to defeat Valdosta State 82-64 in men's basketball action at the DeSoto Civic Center.
Valdosta State (21-9) scored the first basket of the game and got a Will Alston free throw to even the contest at 3-3 just 2:03 into the contest before ATU (24-4) embarked on the game-deciding surge. The Wonder Boys connected on seven of their eight field goal attempts during the run, including three-pointers by Jeremy Dunbar and James Causey to open the spurt, as they built a 19-3 advantage with 14:19 remaining in the first half.
The Blazers responded by scoring the next six points to pull back to within 10 points, but got no closer as Arkansas Tech responded with four straight points. Valdosta State cut its deficit 11 twice and 10 on one more occasion over the remainder of the half while the Wonder Boy lead grew to as much as 46-29 with 1:09 remaining en route to a 46-31 ATU lead at the half.
Arkansas Tech shot 51 percent from the floor in the first half, including 8-of-18 from beyond the three-point line while holding VSU to 41 percent and 1-of-6 from three. The Wonder Boys also forced 10 Valdosta State turnovers while recording six steals in the half.
Arkansas Tech opened the second half with a 16-7 run to push its lead to 24 points less than five minutes into the frame and eventually led by as much as 29 points, on a James Giles lay-up with 7:45 remaining. The Blazers scored the final seven points of the game, the last coming on a lay-up by Tristan Steele with 39 seconds remaining.
Alston led Valdosta State with 13 points while Josh Sparks, Steele and Kevin Harris all tallied 10 each. The Blazers connected on 25-of-55 field goals to shoot 45.5 percent from the floor in the game, but managed to hit just 3-of-17 three-pointers while committing 19 turnovers.
Dunbar connected on 12-of-20 field goal attempts, including four threes, to lead all scorers with 31 points while Johnie Davis was 11-of-20 from the field and hit five threes to score 28 points. Giles also finished with double figures as he scored 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Arkansas Tech also shot 45.5 percent from the floor as it connected on 30-of-66 shots, but also hit 11 threes in the game and tallied 12 steals.