Arkansas State (8-4) at Texas State (4-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 4, 5:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Oscar Strahan Coliseum (7,200) -- San Marcos, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: ASU 4-1, TSU 2-4. Away Record: ASU 4-3, TSU 0-5. Neutral Record: ASU 0-0, TSU 2-1. Conference Record: ASU 1-0, TSU 0-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The struggling Texas State Bobcats will collide with the streaking Arkansas State Red Wolves in a Sun Belt Conference duel at Oscar Strahan Coliseum on Saturday.
The Red Wolves got off to a flying start in league play with an 82-66 triumph over SBC newcomer Texas-Arlington on Thursday. The win was the third straight for Arkansas State, which has improved to 8-4 overall. The team has also put up a fight on the road, going 4-3 away from home. Arkansas State will be back in Jonesboro for its next two games against Troy and South Alabama.
Texas State is transitioning to the Sun Belt this season after playing in the Western Athletic Conference last year and the Southland in the 24 seasons prior. The Bobcats fell in their debut against Arkansas-Little Rock, 63-59, marking their fourth loss in the last five games. They are also just 4-10 overall. A road test against ULM is next on the docket.
This isn't only the first time these teams are meeting as league foes, but the first time ever.
Ed Townsel scored 20 points off the bench to lead five players in double figures for Arkansas State in its recent win over Texas-Arlington. The Red Wolves shot a sizzling 73.9 percent from the floor in the second half to separate themselves after going into halftime tied at 32-32.
The Red Wolves are one of the better offensive teams in the Sun Belt this season, as they are scoring 78.3 ppg while ranking third in the league in both assists (14 pg) and field goal percentage (.458). Head coach John Brady keeps a rather tight rotation, with only six players getting more than 15 minutes of playing time per game. Kirk Van Slyke (16.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg) leads the way in scoring and is coming off a double-double effort against UTA (15 points, 10 rebounds). It was his first double-dip of the season. Melvin Johnson III (15.2 ppg) and Brandon Reed (10.6 ppg) are also averaging in double figures for ASU.
During the final 10 minutes, Texas State never grabbed a lead against UALR, but also never trailed by more than six points. slashing its deficit to one point on three occasions. However, the Bobcats could never get over the hump, allowing the Trojans to shoot 63.2 percent from the floor in the second half.
Whereas Arkansas State is a strong offensive team, Texas State is far from it. The Bobcats rank 10th in the league in scoring (63.5 ppg), although they hang near the middle in field goal percentage (.434). If there is a bright spot, it is that they have been competitive at the defensive end, allowing just 67.6 ppg. Leading scorer Joel Wright (14.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) was one of four players to put up double figures in points against UALR, although he tallied just 10 points off the bench. Emani Gant (10.5 ppg) is the only other player averaging in double figures, and he tied for the team-high with 11 points in Thursday's loss.
Even though it lost its last outing, Texas State could very well have won if it made a few more stops on defense. Saturday's contest clash features a much more potent team though, so another moral victory may be the ceiling for the Bobcats.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 77, Texas State 65
01/04 10:44:47 ET