JONESBORO (2/24/11) – The Arkansas State men's basketball team knocked off North Texas 63-47 Thursday night at the Convocation Center, setting the Red Wolves up with a chance to claim at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference West Division title on their home court Saturday when they face UALR in their regular-season finale.
ASU, looking for its first West Division title since 2007, moved into a two-way tie with Louisiana-Lafayette atop the division standings. ASU also improved to 12-0 at the Convocation Center, and with a victory Saturday against the Trojans can finish with an unblemished home record for the first time in 20 years.
The Red Wolves improved to 16-14 overall, leaving them one win shy of their victories total for last season. ASU also ran its league record to 10-5 and will be guaranteed a bye in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Hot Springs, Ark. with a win Saturday. The Mean Green dropped to 17-10 overall and to 6-8 in conference play with the loss.
The Red Wolves were led by three players scoring in double figures, including Martavius Adams with a game-high 16 points. Adams also pulled down a team-best 13 rebounds to collect his fifth double-double of the season. Joining Adams in double figures for ASU were Donald Boone with 12 points and Edward Townsel with 10.
Trailing 18-8 midway through the opening half, A-State went on an 11-2 run to cut its early double-figure deficit down to only one point with 5:04 left before the break. While ASU never held the lead in the first half and found itself down 26-25 at halftime, it quickly took the advantage to start the second half.
Adams hit a pair of free throws on the first possession of the second half, but the two teams traded the lead seven times over the next four minutes. North Texas still held a 39-36 lead with 12:58 left in the game, but ASU went on a 9-0 run to retake the lead for good.
The Red Wolves limited the Mean Green to just eight points over the games' final 12 minutes as they were able to build their lead to 16 points, 59-43, by the 2:12 mark.
"I thought this was as good a defensive effort from a team that I have put on the floor," said ASU head coach John Brady. "We didn't shoot it well – I thought we missed some quality shots – but we bothered them a great deal, whether it was around the goal or out on the floor. We didn't rebound the ball as well as I would have liked in the first half, but we certainly got on the glass in the second half. I think the difference in the game was our effort defensively and how hard we played."
ASU improved its field goal percentage from 31 percent in the first half to 41 in the second and finished the game with an overall .358 shooting percentage. The Mean Green ended the game with a .300 field goal percentage.
North Texas collected five more rebounds than ASU, 42-37, but committed 20 turnovers to the Red Wolves' eight. ASU also made 25-of-34 free throws, while the Mean Green were 14-of-17 at the charity stripe. Neither team had much success from downtown as ASU finished 0-of-8 from beyond the arc and North Texas 3-of-15.
North Texas was led by two players scoring in double figures, including George Odufawa with a team-high 12 points. Odufawa also grabbed 14 rebounds to finish with a double-double.
Saturday's game between Arkansas State and UALR at the Convocation Center is set to tip at 3:05 p.m. The game will also be carried live on the Sun Belt Network broadcast by CST.