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Second half surge lead Red Wolves past Muleriders

Published: Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 13:12

The Arkansas State Red Wolves went into their final non-conference game of the season looking to close out 2013 on a good note. They did just that after defeating Southern Arkansas by a final score of 91-66 Monday night at the Convocation Center.

The large margin of victory came due to a second half surge in which the Red Wolves outscored the Muleriders 25-6 over a seven-minute span to help send the team to their second straight victory. The Red Wolves were paced by a balanced scoring attack with senior guard Brandon Reed scoring a game-high 19 points, 12 of them coming in the second half. Senior forward Kirk Van Slyke was second with 17 points while also grabbing six rebounds. Senior guard Melvin Johnson III added 16 points, while senior guard Ed Townsel contributed with 13 points coming off the bench. Sophomore forward Kelvin Downs would post a career high eight rebounds. Downs started the game after it was announced that Kendrick Washington would not play due to sickness.

Arkansas State would hold a 35-33 edge in rebounding while also forcing 17 SAU turnovers, leading to 20 points for the home team. Arkansas State was much better in the second half, both in terms of shot selection and shooting accuracy, connecting on 61.5 percent (16-26) after shooting a dismal 36.7 percent (11-30).  The Red Wolves held a significant advantage in free throws attempted and free throws made, shooting an impressive 87.9 percent (29-33) from the charity stripe. Southern Arkansas would only attempt 12 free throw attempts, making nine of them.

The Muleriders would also post two players in double figures, led by sophomore forward Jeffrey Walker’s 17. Junior guard Chauncy Williams also chipped in with 16. The lone bright spot for the Muleriders was their bench production, outscoring the Red Wolves reserves 44-28.

Despite the victory, the team has shown struggles early in the season in putting together a consistent 40 minutes of basketball, something A-State head coach John Brady has stressed throughout the non-conference schedule.

"I'm disappointed in how we played," Brady said. "We're not consistent in any phase right now and we are unable to defend for extended periods.  We're pretty good offensively in spurts but we haven't put together a complete 40-minute game yet (this season).  Mentally we aren't as tough as what I envisioned us to be."

"We need to execute, rebound and defend better and do those three things quickly," Brady continued.  "I've always stressed during my coaching career don't mistake activity for accomplishment."

The Red Wolves will get their first chance to make a statement in 2014 and in Sun Belt Conference play as they open Conference play on Thursday, Jan. 2 against the UT-Arlington Mavericks. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Arlington, Texas.

The Red Wolves home conference opener will take place on Jan. 9 against Troy University.

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