JONESBORO, Ark. (ASU) – Junior guard Marcus Hooten connected on a last-second buzzer beater from 35-feet out to give Arkansas State a 75-72 win over North Texas Saturday night at the Convocation Center.
The play began when sophomore point-guard Ed Townsel blocked a shot from North Texas' Chris Jones. Junior forward Malcoln Kirkland got the rebound and kicked the ball forward to Hooten who took a the shot with 0.2 seconds left on the clock banking in the three-pointer from the "E" in the state logo at center court to give the Red Wolves the win as the Convocation Center crowd erupted.
The win moved A-State to 8-9 on the season and 2-1 in league play while North Texas fell to 9-8 with a 2-2 league mark.
The contest was back and forth with six lead changes and five ties. ASU built its largest lead of the game in the opening minutes leading by 11, 20-9, when Kirkland hit a pair of free throws with 11:17 left in the first half.
But, North Texas went on a 28-10 run to finish the half to take a 37-30 lead into the locker room at halftime.
ASU came out in the second half and outscored the Mean Green 45-35 and shot 58.6% from the floor (17-29) in the half.
ASU got back in the game on a 13-2 run which covered just under six minutes of action. During that stretch five different Red Wolves contributed to the run, including four points by freshman guard Rakeem Dickerson and three from junior guard Trey Finn, including a jumper by Dickerson with 8:20 left in the game which gave ASU a six point lead, 56-50, it's largest of the second half.
ASU kept it within three the rest of the way, including retaking the lead on a dunk from junior forward Brandon Peterson with 3:43 left in the game, 66-65.
Jones scored five points in the final minute to give UNT a two-point lead before Hooten hit a pair of free throws with 27-seconds left to tie the game before his last-second heroics.
Hooten led all players with 24 points shooting 8-13 from the floor and going 2-3 from three and 6-7 from the free throw line. Two other ASU players scored in double figures with Kirkland scoring 15 and Finn scoring 14.
"Our team hung tough," said ASU head coach John Brady. "We took a lead and gave it up and they fought back and then we fought back. We made enough plays down the stretch that we didn't make the other night. I think this is the nature of our team because close games is how it is going to be. We are not an overpowering team by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm still pushing for a 40 minute consistent game. We've played a good half, a bad half and when we play two good halves I think we will be fine. I was proud of us for what we did. I think we were fortunate to win it, but we did win it and we aren't going to give it back and we are looking forward to Monday night."
As a team, A-State was 27-49 from the floor and 4-8 from three-point range. The Red Wolves also outscored the Mean Green 44-24 in the paint and outrebounded them 29-28.
Jones led UNT with 17 points and Jordan Williams came off the bench to score 15. The pair were the only North Texas players who scored in double-figures.