JONESBORO, Ark. (2/20/14) – A solid defensive performance combined with a good shooting night by the Arkansas State University men's basketball team proved too much for UT Arlington as the Red Wolves pulled away to record an 83-60 conference win this Thursday (Feb. 20) night at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark.
The Red Wolves were victorious for the fourth time in their last five games and run their overall record up to 15-9 on the season. A-State, which improves to 8-2 in home encounters this campaign, now stands at 8-5 in the Sun Belt Conference with four of its last five regular-season league contests at home.
Senior forward Kirk Van Slyke was the game's high scorer with 23 points on the night, which was highlighted by a 7-of-8 performance from three-point range. The 6-10 Van Slyke finished just four points of equaling his season high and registered double-figure points for the 20th time this season. Van Slyke was joined in double figures by sophomore guard Cameron Golden, who had 14 points off the bench, while senior guards Brandon Reed and Melvin Johnson III each produced 13 points. Johnson III extended his present double-digit points streak to seven straight and helped the Red Wolves to their 13th consecutive series victory over the Mavericks.
"We won the game from a defensive standpoint," said A-State head coach John Brady. "Our perimeter defense was better than their (UTA) perimeter offense and we were able to establish that early in the game. Overall this was a good game for our team to play although there are some things we can do better.
A-State's starting backcourt duo of senior Ed Townsel and junior Rakeem Dickerson held UT Arlington's top scorer Reger Dowell to only nine points and a three-of-12 shooting performance from the field. Dowell came into this evening's matchup with a 20.7 points per game scoring average for the Mavericks, who fall to 11-14 overall and 6-7 in Sun Belt Conference play with the loss to the Red Wolves.
"I thought Ed (Townsel) and Rakeem (Dickerson) were outstanding defensively tonight," Brady said.
A-State, which made 50 percent (24-48) of its field goals in the game, made 13-of-26 first-half shots (50%) and then connected on 11-of-22 (50%) in the second half. The Red Wolves put up 30 attempts from beyond the arc, hitting on 16 of those for a 53.3 percent efficiency. The hosts held UT Arlington to 40.4 percent (23-57) shooting and 21.1 percent (4-19) from long range. Arkansas State converted 19-of-23 free throws (82.6%) and UTA made 66.7 percent (10-15) at the charity stripe.
The Red Wolves opened up the game holding no more than a five point lead through the first seven-plus minutes before outscoring the Mavericks, 21-8, in the next seven minutes to take an 18-point advantage, 32-14, with just under six minutes before the half. A-State maintained its double-figure lead for the remaining six minutes and at intermission led 42-30. Van Slyke paced the Red Wolves at the break with 20 points, which featured six treys in seven attempts.
A-State would pull away in the second half, stretching a an 11-point lead (45-34) with just under 17 minutes remaining up to 20 points, 64-44, seven minutes later on a pair of Ed Townsel free throws. UT Arlington would narrow the Red Wolves' margin down to 14 points, 68-54, with 7:14 left on the clock, but the home team made sure the Mavericks would get no closer the rest of the way. A-State managed to outscore the visitors 15-2 in the next five minutes to build up its largest lead of the game at 27 points (83-56) with 1:44 left to be played.
The Red Wolves finished the night with a 34-29 edge in rebounding and outscored UTA in bench points, 32-15. Van Slyke, senior forward Kendrick Washington, and Townsel all collected six boards to lead A-State.
UT Arlington was led by Brandon Edwards' 14 points. Two other UTA starters, Jamel Outler and Lonnie McClanaha tallied 10 points apiece.
Texas State will make its first appearance to Arkanas State this Saturday (Feb. 22) with tipoff at 7:05 p.m. (CT) in Jonesboro. Tickets for the Sun Belt Conference contest are available at the A-State Central Ticket Office, located in the A-State Convocation Center, by calling 870-972-2781 or 1-888-ASU-FANS. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.astate.edu/tickets.
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.
UT Arlington FG-A 3FG-A FT-A Points Brandon Edwards 6/12 0/3 2/2 14 Jamel Outler 4/9 2/6 0/1 10 Lonnie McClanahan 3/9 0/0 4/6 10 Arkansas State FG-A 3FG-A FT-A Points Kirk Van Slyke 7/10 7/8 2/2 23 Cameron Golden 5/8 4/6 0/0 14 Brandon Reed 3/5 1/2 6/8 13 Melvin Johnson III 5/13 1/5 2/2 13 UT Arlington Off. Def. Total Brandon Edwards 0 7 7 Jorge Bilbao 2 4 6 Arkansas State Off. Def. Total Kirk Van Slyke 1 5 6 Kendrick Washington 1 5 6 Ed Townsel 2 4 6