JONESBORO (2/26/11) – A lot was on the line for the Red Wolves men's basketball team as they took the floor against instate rival UALR Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of 5,836 fans at the Convocation Center. An undefeated home record, a share of the Sun Belt West title and bragging rights over instate rival UALR all hung in the balance and the Red Wolves produced, picking up a 71-63 win over the Trojans and solidifying a No. 1 seed in the upcoming Sun Belt Conference men's basketball tournament.
The win completed an undefeated mark at the Convocation Center for the first time since the 1990-91 season as the Red Wolves improved to 13-0 at home. They finished regular season action at 17-14 and posted their second-consecutive winning SBC record at 11-5.
UALR fell to 15-15 with a 7-8 record, dropping their third-consecutive loss in the series to the Red Wolves.
Senior guard Rashad Allison led the Red Wolves in scoring putting up 16 mostly at the free-throw line where he went 9-11. Sophomore guard Trey Finn posed his third double-double of the year with 15 points and 13 rebounds, which was a game-high.
Senior forward Jeremy Thomas made the most out of his final start at the Convocation Center scoring 12 points and five rebounds. The Jonesboro native was also 6-6 from the free throw line.
UALR jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the game when Alex Garcia-Mendoza hit a layup with 17:47 remaining in the half. But, ASU answered with a 7-0 run of its own to tie the score on a layup by Malcoln Kirkland with 14:03 left in the half.
The Trojans were able to maintain a one to two possession lead through the remainder of the half taking a 40-35 lead into the locker room at the break.
UALR stretched its lead out to 11 when Eric Kibi laid the ball in just three-minutes and 25 seconds into the second half. ASU then chipped away at the lead including going on a 8-1 run to capture the lead on a pair of free-throws by Boone with 4:52 left to go in the game, a lead they never relinquished.
"It was a great win for our players, our team, our fans, the university, the coaches, it's just a great thing for all of that," said ASU head coach John Brady. "I was certainly appreciative of the crowd, the way they backed our team and supported us today and I was so proud of our players to be able to win the game with them here. The second half defensively was as good as it was the whole game against North Texas."
UALR was able to get within one-possession twice, both on scores by Garcia-Mendoza, but a three-pointer by Finn gave the Red Wolves a 10-point lead, 65-66 with 1:41 left to go.
ASU outrebounded UALR 41-27 and shot 41.5% from the field in the game (17-41). The Red Wolves also capitalized on 44 trips to the free throw line connecting on 33-44 (.750) at the charity stripe.
Garcia-Mendoza led the Trojans with 15 on 6-12 shooting while Kibi led the Trojans on the boards with five.
Prior to tipoff ASU honored its departing seniors Boone, Allison , Thomas and senior manager Brodrick Johnson with a special pregame ceremony.
ASU will await the pairings for the opening round of the Sun Belt Tournament which will be announced on Tuesday. The Red Wolves will get a first round bye and will play their first game on Sunday in Hot Springs.