Western Kentucky (16-7) at Arkansas State (12-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, February 10, 8:05 p.m. (ET)
ACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (10,038) -- Jonesboro, Arkansas. Television: HSSN, ESPN3.com. Home Record: WKU 10-3, ASU 6-2. Away Record: WKU 6-4, ASU 6-6. Neutral Record: WKU 0-0, ASU 0-0. Conference Record: WKU 8-2, ASU 5-4. Series Record: Western Kentucky leads, 31-14.
GAME NOTES: The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers will attempt to extend their winning streak when they meet the Arkansas State Red Wolves for a Sun Belt Conference clash at the Convocation Center.
Western Kentucky topped Arkansas State in double overtime on Jan. 18, 82-77, and has not lost since, posting six consecutive victories. The winning streak has kept the Hilltoppers near the top of the Sun Belt Conference standings, as they are 8-2 in league play, good enough for second place. They are also a solid 16-7 overall, with a three-game homestand next on the docket.
Arkansas State has not been doing as well recently, with losses in three of its last five games, although the Red Wolves topped Troy, 82-73, last time out. They are now 12-8 overall, with middling success in conference play (5-4). Visits to South Alabama and Louisiana are next on the docket for ASU.
The Hilltoppers' victory over the Red Wolves earlier this season improved their lead in the all-time series to 31-14.
Trency Jackson sank a 3-pointer as time expired to help Western Kentucky escape with a 79-78 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday. The Hilltoppers only shot 42.1 percent from the field, but knocked down 12-of-30 3-point attempts, including Jackson's game-winner.
Despite having little trouble picking up wins, the Hilltoppers have had some problems on offense, ranking sixth in the conference in scoring (69.4 ppg) while draining 41.8 percent from the floor. However, they are solid defensively, letting up only 67 ppg. T.J. Price (16.6 ppg) and George Fant (13.5 ppg, 7 rpg) are the two most important players on the roster. Fant had only nine points against UALR, but he recorded a career-high 27 points in the first meeting with Arkansas State this season. Chris Harrison-Docks (10.2 ppg) and Trency Jackson (10.1 ppg) lend support, with the latter coming off a 20- point performance on Saturday.
Rakeem Dickerson and Ed Townsel each scored 19 points to lift Arkansas State over Troy. The Red Wolves were outscored 30-16 in the paint, but they made up for it by owning scoring advantages from beyond the arc (33-21), off turnovers (21-10) and at the free-throw line (24-12).
Arkansas State is a much more productive offensive team than Western Kentucky. The Red Wolves rank third in the Sun Belt in field goal percentage (.451), leading to a solid 77.4 ppg. Sharing the ball is the key for the squad, which leads the league in assists (14.3 apg). Kirk Van Slyke (16.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Melvin Johnson III (14.4 ppg) do much of the heavy lifting in terms of scoring. Johnson III had an off night against Troy, netting just 2-of-11 from the floor to finish with 10 points. Van Slyke tacked on nine points on 3- of-7 shooting.
These teams are pretty evenly matched, as their double-overtime marathon earlier this season proves, but Van Slyke and Johnson III will have to return to form if Arkansas State hopes to pull off the upset.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 75, Western Kentucky 71
02/10 10:33:38 ET