Red Wolves At Trojans for All of the Marbles. Again


Red Wolves At Trojans

Courtesy of our friends at ASU Fan Rules

Basketball opponents come and go in the Sun Belt.

Do you remember Denver? Louisiana Tech? New Orleans? Southwestern Louisiana? North Texas? Middle Tennessee?

I’ve already forgotten Western Kentucky.

Sun Belt opponents are ships that pass in the night. But A-State versus UALR is forever.

Since 1980  the two schools have clashed 62 times, with Arkansas State owning a slight 33-29 advantage. The point differential is 2.2 point per game. Both teams genuinely relish victory over the other.

It’s not hatred. It’s simply a good old-fashioned, respectful in-state rivalry. On January 25th, A-State hosted UALR and enjoyed its largest attendance at the Convocation Center for the year. This Saturday, the Jack Stephens Center will likely benefit from a similar attendance boost. In a state where basketball ranks a very distance second to football, the A-State/UALR game is something uniquely special.

After all, the state’s flagship program is still seeking rival candidates from out of state, settling on Missouri because, uh…well, there’s really no reason other than that the SEC is determined to manufacture a rival for the school in Northwest Arkansas.

But A-State and UALR, now that’s a rivalry.

Playing in the shadow of a more privileged program that’s disinterested in acknowledging its in-state brethren, both UALR and A-State have earned their hard-nosed fans by simply persevering. Every meeting is a fistfight. State pride hinges on the outcome of each contest. The records don’t matter. What matters is that two teams from Arkansas are battling on the hardwood to determine who is best – the only way such things can be measured.

On Saturday night, A-State and UALR meet for the 63rd time. Neither team is blessed with NBA lottery picks, but both are capable of winning the Sun Belt tournament and reaching the NCAA tournament. The stakes are high.

But then again, they always are.

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