“What do you say to them if you lose?” said Brady, whose team led the Trojans from start to finish and took over the lead in the Sun Belt Conference West Division by a half-game.
ASU senior guard Trey Finn, a Little Rock Parkview product who was once a UALR commit before switching to ASU, was a little more straightforward.
“We had an edge about us, and we knew what lied ahead of us,” he said. ”We knew we couldn’t let this one slip, so we just took care of business.”
The Red Wolves took care of business early. They scored the first eight, led by 24 points midway through the first half, 16 at halftime, and by as many as 27 in a runaway win.
So what it all means is now ASU (16-9. 10-6) leads UALR (15-11, 9-6) by a half game going into today’s play, which has the Red Wolves at Louisiana-Monroe and the Trojans at home against Sun Belt heavyweight Middle Tennessee, which already has the East title wrapped up.
The significance for ASU and UALR is being the top seed out of the West is being assured that they will be on the opposite of side the bracket of the Blue Raiders (24-4. 12-1). MTSU’s only loss was in Jonesboro. In their first meeting with UALR, Middle won at home 82-50.
“Steve Shields is a great coach and does a good job and now he has to get his team back up and ready to play the best road team in the conference,” said Brady.
Brady said right now no team is bigger than any other but he said his team “needs to avoid the trap game” in Monroe.
ASU returns home to play Troy before wrapping up the season on the road at both North Texas and UALR. The Trojans still have the to make the Florida road swing before closing at home with Louisiana-Lafayette and the Red Wolves.
If ASU prevails, the future still looks good for UALR, which has several nice young players. They will likely be the team to beat in the Sun Belt the next two seasons.
ASU is built around seniors Finn, Brandon Peterson and Marcus Hooten. Two others who are main players are 6-8, 270-pound junior Kendrick Washington, who is a transfer from Houston and in his fourth season of school, and junior guard Ed Townsel.
It was that experience that made a big difference for the Red Wolves Thursday night in Jonesboro.
A more physical team than the Trojans, ASU just out-muscled UALR. Experience showed.
“If you’re going to play your best game of the year, you might as well do it against your rival at home in front of a great crowd, an enthusiastic crowd, and play for first place,” Brady said.
Over the next two weeks we will find out if the March 2 game will have any extra meaning.