Eaton repeats as Sun Belt player of week

Arkansas State’s Marquis Eaton makes a move as Arkansas-Little Rock’s Marko Andric (11) defends during Friday night’s game at First National Bank Arena. Eaton was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week on Monday after leading the Red Wolves to a weekend sweep of the Trojans.

JONESBORO — Arkansas State senior guard Marquis Eaton is the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week in men’s basketball for the second consecutive week, the league office announced Monday.

Eaton produced 40 points and 13 assists over the weekend to lead ASU to a two-game sweep of rival Arkansas-Little Rock. He shot 57.1 percent from the field, 92.3 percent from the free throw line and had only two turnovers while playing 65 minutes over back-to-back nights.

Friday night, Eaton posted 17 points and eight assists, without a turnover, in the Red Wolves’ 73-62 victory over the Trojans in Jonesboro. He was 4-of-7 from the field, including 2-of-2 from the 3-point line, and made all seven free throws he attempted.

ASU (10-9, 7-5 Sun Belt) completed the series sweep Saturday in Little Rock with a 67-65 victory as Eaton recorded 23 points, five assists and four rebounds. He was 8-of-14 from the field, including 2-of-5 from the 3-point line, and made five of his six free-throw attempts.

With sophomore point guard Caleb Fields limited to four minutes in the second half Saturday after aggravating an ankle injury, Eaton had nine points, four rebounds, three assists and no turnovers.

“What a phenomenal game. That kid was a warrior,” ASU head coach Mike Balado said of Eaton. “Without Caleb Fields out there, he played the entire second half against the press, just an unbelievable game by that kid. He’s having an unbelievable month.”

In four games this month, all Red Wolf victories, Eaton is 23-of-42 (54.8 percent) from the field and 32-of-34 (94.1) percent from the free throw line. He has produced 87 points and 32 assists in ASU’s four-game winning streak.

Eaton has played well against UALR for his career, averaging 15 points while shooting 17-of-28 from the 3-point line in eight meetings over four seasons. Last season Eaton scored 52 points in two games against the Trojans, connecting on 11-of-14 from the 3-point line.

“He always kills us,” UALR head coach Darrell Walker said Saturday. “He’s an All-Sun Belt Conference player.”

Eaton admitted it was satisfying to beat the Trojans twice this season after UALR swept last year’s meetings.

“(Friday) I was like, ‘It’s just another win,’ but it feels good because we didn’t beat them at all last year,” Eaton said. “We went 0-2 against them last year and now this year we’re 2-0. I just felt like we had to get them back.”

Earning his first career player of the week nods in back-to-back weeks, Eaton is the first ASU player since the 1993-94 season to be named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks. He’s the first Sun Belt Player to earn back-to-back honors since Nijal Pearson of Texas State in December 2018, but the first to do so in league play since Tony Mitchell earned the honors three consecutive weeks in January 2012.

Eaton is averaging 13.8 points, tied for 10th in the Sun Belt. He is No. 2 in the league in assists at 5.1 per game and is third in free throw percentage at 86.8 percent.

ASU’s scheduled makeup game tonight at Texas State was canceled because of wintry weather. The Red Wolves are scheduled to host Texas State (15-6, 9-3 Sun Belt) in a two-game series Friday and Saturday at First National Bank Arena that will feature the top two teams in the Sun Belt Conference West Division standings.

Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday.

The Red Wolves have climbed into second place over the last two weekends with sweeps of Louisiana-Lafayette and UALR.

“I know that we’re headed in the right direction. I will say we’re trending in the right direction and when you’re trending in the right direction, you want to do it in February going into March,” Balado said. “We’ve got guys playing a lot of minutes and we’ve got guys coming off the bench and giving us something. We just have to continue with the same momentum, stick with the process, stick to the plan and just adjust as games go on.”