JONESBORO, AR (ASU) – Sophomore guard Trey Finn collected his second double-double of the season and was one of three Arkansas State players to score in double figures, helping lead the Red Wolves to a 69-65 victory over Middle Tennessee in a Sun Belt Conference men's basketball game Saturday night at the Convocation Center.
The Red Wolves won their second straight game and remained undefeated on their home court, improving to 8-0. ASU also pulled back within one game of .500, now standing 9-10 on the year, and ran its conference record to 4-2 to end the night in second place in the West Division standings. Middle Tennessee fell to 7-11 overall and to 2-3 in Sun Belt play.
Finn finished with 13 points and a season-high 11 rebounds to claim his second double-double of the season. Also scoring in double figures for the Red Wolves were senior guard Donald Boone with a team-high 16 points and sophomore forward Brandon Peterson with 14.
A-State built a 41-28 halftime lead only to see Middle Tennessee slowly chip away at the lead and make it close at the end. While the Red Wolves never trailed after grabbing a 14-13 advantage with 11:51 left in the first half, the Blue Raiders were able to get as close as one point in the final minutes.
Middle Tennessee went on a 14-6 run over the opening six minutes of the second half to cut its 13-point halftime deficit down to just five, but ASU was able to maintain a 5-to-9 point lead until MTSU's James Gllman hit a three with 5:45 remaining that pulled the Blue Raiders within 61-58.
With two minutes left in the game, Jason Jones hit the first of two free throws to cut ASU's lead to just 66-65. However, ASU held the Blue Raiders scoreless the rest of the way while making 3-of-6 free throws to seal the victory.
"We probably played as a good a second half as we have all year against a well coached team," said ASU head coach John Brady. "What we did do was get to the foul line in the second half 25 times. We drove it, we threw it inside, we got fouled and we made 17 free throws. When you are not making jump shots, then you shoot it less and score as many points because you are making it at the foul line.
"The first half we scored it from the field, shooting the ball," continued Brady. "The second half we got it to the foul line and kept scoring some baskets, scoring enough to win the game. It was a good win for us, and I was proud of our team."
Both team's shooting percentage was almost identical as ASU hit 45 percent of its attempts and Middle Tennessee 44 percent. While ASU was outscored 34-18 in the paint, it held a 34-31 advantage on the boards and took advantage of 11 offensive rebounds that it turned into 15 second-chance points.
The Blue Raiders took 10 more shots and made four more field goals than the Red Wolves, but A-State connected on 25 free throws to Middle Tennessee's 14.
Middle Tennessee was led by three players scoring in double figures as well, including Jones with a team-high 16 points. Jones also had a team-best seven rebounds, while Shawn Jones added 12 points and James Washington 10 for the Blue Raiders.
ASU will wrap up a three-game home stand Monday when it faces Lamar at 7:05 p.m.