HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (ASU) – The match up saw nine ties and 10 lead changes but North Texas had the final lead and came out on top 76-72 over the Arkansas State men's basketball team in their semifinal game in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
The Red Wolves finished the season with a 14-20 record. North Texas advanced to the Sun Belt Championship and will face the winner of the Western Kentucky/Denver game.
Junior guard Trey Finn led ASU with 21 points shooting 50% from the floor (6-12) and three-point range(5-10). Junior guard Marcus Hooten scored 18 on 8-16 shooting while senior forward Malcoln Kirkland finished his career with a double-double scoring 14 and pulling down a game high 10 rebounds.
"I'm proud of our team and the way it played," said ASU head coach John Brady. "First off, I've seen too many coaches get up and talk about what their team didn't do and I'm not going to do a lot of that, but I'd certainly like to congratulate Johnny (Jones) and how his team played and the plays they made to win the game."
The Red Wolves trailed by 12 when North Texas' Tyler Hall drained a three-pointer with 6:21 to go in the first half, 30-18. Arkansas State closed out the half on a 16-8 run to cut the halftime lead to four 38-34 in favor of the Mean Green.
Finn and Hooten led ASU with 12 first half points while the Red Wolves outrebounded North Texas 16-10 in the first half.
A three-pointer by Finn with 5:25 left to go in the game gave ASU its largest lead of the game, 65-62. The Red Wolves maintained the lead until Roger Franklin put UNT up 66-64 with 2:53 to go. ASU battled getting within one point when Hooten hit a layup with 41 seconds left but were unable to get any closer.
The Mean Green got the lead out to six when Alzee Williams scored with 13-seconds left, Finn drained another three on the ensuing possession cutting the lead back to three.
ASU outrebounded North Texas 32-23 and beat them 16-5 on the offensive glass. The Red Wolves also beat UNT 28-22 in thepaint and 15-6 in second-chance points.
ASU connected on 28-60 shots (46.7%) and were 9-23 from three-point range (39.1%). North Texas shot 58.7% in the game and were 61.5% from three-point range.