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MOBILE, Ala. (12/29/12) –  The Arkansas State University men’s basketball team closed out 2012 on a high note as the Red Wolves led almost from start to finish en route to a 63-54 victory over South Alabama this Saturday (Dec. 29) evening in a Sun Belt Conference (SBC) matchup at USA’s Mitchell Center in Mobile, Ala.

The win improves ASU's record to 8-5 overall and 2-2 in the SBC to date this season as the Red Wolves won their second consecutive conference tilt.  Meanwhile, South Alabama suffers defeat for the first time in SBC action as the Jaguars are now 3-1 in league play to go with a 6-6 overall ledger.

“We showed a tremendous amount of toughness and heart,” said ASU head coach John Brady.  “We played a good game and were solid defensively.  The effort our guys displayed tonight was really good.

“What a good win for us.  I wasn’t sure if we could get one at their (South Alabama) place so we kind of stoled one,” added Brady.

ASU started out strong, scoring the first six points and would never trail the first 20 minutes as the Red Wolves went on to take a 28-23 lead at intermission.  The Jaguars were able to force a tie at 19-apiece wit 2:46 remaining before A-State proceeded to outscore the hosts 9-2 just before the end of the opening frame.  Eight different Red Wolves scored in the stanza as ASU forced 12 USA turnovers.

The Red Wolves led throughout the second half and went up by 13 points at 50-37 on a three-point play from senior forward Brandon Peterson before the Jaguars narrowed the gap to four (52-48) with an 11-2 run in a four-minute span.

However, ASU would tally six of the next 10 points to bump its lead to 58-50 at the three-minute mark and then would go on a 9-2 run to lead 61-52 with 19 seconds left in the game.  A-State was able to clinch the win at the free throw stripe where the Red Wolves connected on 18-of-27 (67%) for the night.

Brandon Peterson and sophomore guard Rakeem Dickerson led ASU 15 points apiece and junior guard Ed Townsel posted nine points while senior guard Marcus Hooten netted eight points off the bench.  Senior guard Trey Finn and Townsel hauled down nine rebounds while Peterson grabbed seven boards.  Junior forward Kendrick Washington picked up six boards as the Red Wolves were outrebounded 47-45 in the game.  Rakeem Dickerson also contributed a game-high five steals and claimed five rebounds in the win. 

The Jaguars had two players in double-figures as Augustine Aubit totaled a game-high 20 points and had 17 rebounds.  Antonie Allen supplied 11 points for USA in the setback.

ASU shot 38% for the game from the field and nailed only 3-of-12 three pointers for 25%.  South Alabama shot 27% (17-62), but was held to only four-of-27 (15%) from beyond the arc.  The Jaguars were 69% (16-23) at the free throw line.

The Red Wolves will start off the 2013 New Year with a three-game SBC homestand, beginning Thursday, Jan. 3, versus the Middle Tennessee  Blue Raiders in Jonesboro, Ark.  A 7:05 p.m. (CT) opening tip is slated for the conference tilt at the ASU Convocation Center.  Tickets for the A-State contest and all remaining 2012-13 home games can be purchased by calling the ASU Ticket Office at (870) 972-27891 or 1-888-ASU-FANS.  Fans may also visit the A-State Athletics website at www.RedWolves.com to purchase tickets and/or for the latest Red Wolves’ information.

AStAte Notes: The Red Wolves finished the month of December with a 4-3 mark and is 29-22 overall (.569) in December outings going back to the 2007-08 campaign ... Ed Townsel's nine rebounds in the South Alabama contest represents a career game high, eclipsing his eight boards versus UALR last season (1/14/12) ... Trey Finn, who has totaled a combined 17 rebounds in his last two outings, is averaging 8.5 boards per game in those two contests.  He averaged 4.0 caroms per game (36 total) in his previous nine encounters ... Rakeem Dickerson's 15 points at South Alabama marked a career single-game high, bettering his 12 points on two prior occasions with the most recent against St. Bonaventure this season (12/8) ... ASU, which led USA 28-23 at the half, improved to 7-2 on the season when holding the advantage at the break ... The Red Wolves now have an 18-17 edge in their all-time series with South Alabama as a result of the win.  The two teams will square off again on Jan. 31, 2013 on A-State's home floor.