Western Kentucky (10-6) at Arkansas State (9-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 5, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (10,727) -- Jonesboro, Arkansas. Television: ESPN 3, WKYU, WBNA. Home Record: WKU 7-0, ASU 6-1. Away Record: WKU 2-4, ASU 3-4. Neutral Record: WKU 1-2, ASU 0-0. Conference Record: WKU 4-1, ASU 3-2. Series Record: Western Kentucky leads, 29-12.
GAME NOTES: The Arkansas State Red Wolves look to win their fourth straight game as they host the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at the Convocation Center for a Sun Belt Conference bout.
WKU begin its 2012-13 campaign with eight wins through its first 10 games, but the team is just 2-4 since after dropping a 75-67 decision at Arkansas-Little Rock on Thursday. The loss was the first in league play for the Hilltoppers, who have now fallen in their last three away games. Coach Ray Harper's squad is outscoring its opposition by an average margin of 2.8 points thanks to its scoring defense, which is the second lowest in the SBC at 65.1 ppg.
John Brady's Red Wolves are coming off of a thrilling 66-60 overtime triumph over Middle Tennessee that marked their third win in a row and rose their SBC record to 3-2, which puts them in a tie for first place in the West Division standings with UALR. Arkansas State's only loss at home this season came to the very talented Murray State Racers on Dec. 19. The Red Wolves are third in the conference in both scoring offense (70.5 ppg) and scoring defense (65.4).
The last time these schools met on the hardwood, Western Kentucky clipped the Red Wolves, 79-76, to increase its all-time series lead to 29-12.
The Hilltoppers are led by the trio of T.J. Price (14.6 ppg), Jamal Crook (14.5 ppg, 4.5 apg), and George Fant (11.8 ppg), who account for 60.2 percent of their 67.9 ppg average. None of the three managed to score in double- figures versus UALR as Price and Fant tallied just eight and seven points, respectively, while Crook continued to miss action as he recovers from a leg injury. Brandon Harris, who paces the squad on the boards with 6.6 rpg, did his best to spearhead the charge versus the Trojans by registering a double- double of 18 points and 10 boards.
While leading scorer Ed Townsel (15.6 ppg) struggled against the Blue Raiders, Brandon Peterson stepped it up to contribute team-highs of 15 points and nine rebounds. Marcus Hooten also chimed in by scoring 14 points off the bench. Arkansas State was 4-of-5 from the floor, while holding the Blue Raiders to a mere 2-of-5, en route to a 14-8 advantage in overtime that secured the win. Although Arkansas State made just 38.9 percent of its field goals in the contest, it held Middle Tennessee to just 32.2 percent shooting to capture the decision. Peterson is just under a double-double average with 11.4 points and 9.8 boards per outing.
The Red Wolves have been nearly perfect at home and cannot be counted out after their big win over Middle Tennessee. This is not a good matchup for the Hilltoppers, who lack any legitimate 3-point threat, as they face an ASU squad that was very stingy on the defensive end in its last outing.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 69, Western Kentucky 65
01/05 10:37:17 ET