Anthony Livingston scored 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Red Wolves (2-2), who shot 78 percent (29-37) from the free throw line.
Down 41-35 at halftime, the Red Wolves tied it at 52 after Thomas capped a 13-3 run with a free throw. Thomas made a layup and three free throws to spark a 12-2 run that put the Red Wolves on top 67-59 with 3:33 left and they outscored the Tigers 9-8 in the final 2:57.
Arkansas State led 19-4 after Gardner's layup, but Javeres Brent hit a 3 to spark a 12-4 run and Jackson State's comeback. Chace Franklin's 3-pointer put the Tigers up 33-31 and Jackson State led 41-35 at halftime.