ARLINGTON, TX (ASU) – The Arkansas State University men's basketball team opened up Sun Belt Conference (SBC) play in impressive fashion with an 82-66 victory over UT Arlington this Thursday (Jan. 2) night at UTA's College Park Center in Arlington, Texas.
The Red Wolves improve to 8-4 overall and 1-0 in Sun Belt Conference play as a result of winning their third consecutive contest while UT Arlington drops to 5-8 overall and 0-1 in the SBC.
Senior guard Ed Townsel scored a season-high 20 points off the bench to lead the A-State offensive charge while senior forward Kirk Van Slyke and sophomore guard Cameron Golden posted 15 points apiece. Senior guard Brandon Reed notched 12 points as did senior forward Kendrick Washington, who registered his second straight double-double with a game-high tying 10 rebounds. Van Slyke totaled 10 boards as well to notch his initial double-double of this campaign.
"We played really well and I'm proud of all our guys," said A-State head coach John Brady. "We defended well and outbounded team which was pleasing to see. This is a really good win for our team, but in spite of playing well there's some things we can do to be a better basketball team."
Arkansas State claimed its 12th straight win over UT Arlington in the all-time series between the two teams and is now 15-9 on the road versus the Mavericks.
The first 20 minutes of action featured five ties and six lead changes. A-State managed to overcome a six-point deficit at 29-23 in the final five minutes and closed out the half on a 9-3 run as Kirk Van Slyke's layup with a minute left sent both teams into the lockerrroom at the half tied up at 32-all.
The margin remained close through the first five minutes of the second half as the Red Wolves led 40-38 at the 15:57 mark. From there, A-State outscored UT-Arlington, 25-4, in an eight-minute span to go up by 23 points at 65-42 on a Van Slyke jumper with 8:07 left in the game. The Red Wolves maintained a 20-point advantage almost the rest of the way until just over a minute to go allowing the Mavericks to close within 16 points on two occasions, which included the final margin with 20 ticks left on the clock.
For UTA, Reger Dowell's 28 points was a game high and Lonnie McClanahan was the only other Mavericks' player to tally double digits with a 12-point performance off the bench.
Arkansas State finished the game shooting 56.9 percent (29-51) from the floor, which included 73.9 percent (17-23) in the second half. The Red Wolves were 10-of-23 from three-point range for 43.5 percent while the A-State defense held UTA to 33.3 percent (20-60) field goal shooting and also managed to outrebound UT-Arlington by a 39-35 count.
The Red Wolves continue conference play in Texas this Saturday (Jan. 4) taking on another league newcomer in the Texas State Bobcats in San Marcos, Texas. A 4:30 p.m. (CT) start is scheduled for the matchup at TSU's Strahan Coliseum and the action can be heard live on the EAB Red Wolves Sports Network via 107.9 KFIN-FM with Matt Stolz calli.
Arkansas State men's basketball is on Twitter. Follow head coach John Brady (@JohnBrady_Coach) and the program's official Twitter account (@RedWolvesHoops) to get insider news, information, and team updates. The Red Wolves are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RedWolvesMBB.
Red Wolves Howl: Ed Townsel's 20 points was a season high, besting his 13 points in his last outing against Southern Arkansas (12/30) ... Kirk Van Slyke has scored double figures in his last five games and has compiled 11 such performances to date on the season ... The Red Wolves are now 15-9 in Sun Belt Conference openers dating back to the 1991-92 season and have now won eight of their last nine opening games.