Red Wolves Get Big Win – A-State 72, WKU 58


Red Wolves Get Big Win

JONESBORO, Ark.  – The Red Wolves get big win over WKU last night, as the Arkansas State University men’s basketball team turned in a 72-58 win over second-place Sun Belt Conference foe WKU at A-State’s Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark.

Arkansas State won their second game in a row in improving to 13-8 overall and 6-4 in conference action for the season.  The Red Wolves also claimed their seventh win at home in nine such encounters this campaign and snapped WKU’s six-game winning streak in the process.

Aggressive defensive pressure stifled WKU as its top two scorers in T.J. Price and George Fant were held to only a combined two points after erupting for 46 points in the first meeting between the two teams earlier this season on the Hilltoppers’ home floor.  The Red Wolves forced the Hilltoppers into 17 turnovers in the game and limited the visitors to 37 percent shooting (17-46) for the night.  The win also avenged an earlier defeat to WKU this season as the Red Wolves came out on the short end of an 82-77 double-overtime decision (Jan. 18).

“This was a good game for us to win after having nine days off,” said A-State head coach John Brady.  “They’re (WKU) a good defensive team and we matched that tonight with our intensity all night long.  As the game went on we settled down and we’re better offensively.

“My hats off to our guys for getting a win against a team (WKU) which is playing really well right now,” added Brady.

Melvin Johnson III led the way for A-State as the senior guard scored double figures for the fourth consecutive time with a game-high 22 points, which included marking eight-of-12 shots from the floor.  Sophomore guard Cameron Golden joined Johnson III in the double-digit scoring column with 11 points off the bench.  The backcourt players both played 22 minutes apiece in the win.

Besides the pair spearheading the A-State offense, the Red Wolves also received nine points from senior forward Kendrick Washington while senior guard Brandon Reed along with sophomore forward Kelvin Downs tossed in eight points apiece off the bench.

A-State shot 39.6 percent from the field for the night, which included 55 percent in the second half after struggling in the first at 28.6 percent efficiency due in part to the nine-day layoff.  The Red Wolves made just five-of-17 (29.4%) in three pointers but connected on 29-of-34 (85.3%) free throws.

On the opposite side, WKU finished at 37 percent shooting with a 17-for-46 performance  after making good on 23.1 percent (6-26) of its shots in the first 20 minutes of action.  The Hilltoppers hit seven-of-19 (36.8%) three’s and 17-of-24 (70.8%) at the charity stripe.

Arkansas State claim a 25-20 lead at the half, snapping a 17-all tie at the 5:48 mark with five unanswered points to go up 22-17 with just under two minutes left before the break.  A three-pointer by senior guard Ed Townsel with 42 seconds left gave the hosts a five-point cushion after WKU knocked down one of its own 20 seconds earlier.

The second half was controlled by A-State as the Red Wolves led the entire way.  WKU would cut a 10-point A-State advantage at 37-27 with 15:21 to go in half at the 13:51 mark, trailing 37-32.  But, the Hilltoppers would get no closer as the Red Wolves increased their margin to double digits for good the final eight minutes.  A-State’s lead ballooned to 18 points (66-48) with 3:21 remaining as Kendrick Washington was fouled on a three-point attempt and knocked down all three free throws following a timeout as the Red Wolves never led by less than 14 points the rest of the way.

A-State tallied a 33-31 advantage on the boards and scored 24 points off WKU turnovers while racking up 10 steals in the game.

WKU, which fell to 16-8 and 8-3 in the SBC, was led by Chris Harrison-Docks’ 14 points.  Trency Jackson added 11 points in a reserve role and Aaron Adeoye totaled 10 points and pulled down seven boards.

The Red Wolves will go for their third win a row this Thursday (Feb. 13) as A-State visits South Alabama in Sun Belt Conference action at Mobile, Ala.  Game time versus the Jaguars is set for 7:05 p.m. at USA’s Mitchell Center and the contest can be heard live on the EAB Red Wolves Sports Radio Network via flagship KFIN 107.9 FM as Matt Stolz calls the action.

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