MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (2/7/13) – The Arkansas State University men’s basketball team, plagued by poor shooting and coupled with Middle Tennessee’s solid interior play, dropped a 73-60 decision to the Blue Raiders this Thursday (Feb. 7) night in a Sun Belt Conference (SBC) showdown of divisional leaders at the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

“They (Middle Tennessee) were better than us tonight,” said ASU head coach John Brady.  “They’re quick, more physical and we were unable to match that.  The final 12-minute stretch we played much better which speaks well to our character, but we still have guys who need to be more productive on the road.”

A-State hit 36.5% of its shots from the field as the Red Wolves connected on 19-of-52 while the host Blue Raiders compiled a 53.6% field-goal percentage by going 30-of-56.  Middle Tennessee controlled the paint as the Blue Raiders registered 44 points to ASU’s 20 points output.

Middle Tennessee began with a 12-1 run and ASU could never recover from the deficit.  The Red Wolves struggled from the floor at 30.4% shooting (7-23) and on the boards (34-21) in the first half, allowing MTSU to take a 34-21 lead at the half.  The second stanza started out much the same as the Blue Raiders went on a 16-2 spurt in the first five minutes and would go onto increase their lead as many as 31 points at 56-25 with 11:52 remaining.  From there, ASU finally caught a break as the Red Wolves outscored MTSU 35-17 in the time left to close out the game on a positive note.   

Freshman guard Cameron Golden led Arkansas State with 15 points and senior guard Marcus Hooten tossed in 10 points.  Freshman forward Kelvin Downs and sophomore guard Rakeem Dickerson tallied eight points apiece.  Brandon Peterson's eight rebounds was tops for the Red Wolves as the senior forward eclipsed the 800-career mark. 

The Red Wolves had their three-game winning streak snapped with the loss as ASU drops to 14-9 overall and 8-6 in the SBC’s West Division.

Neiko Hunter paced Middle Tennessee, which won its 10th game in a row, with 17 points with Marcos Knight notched a double-double by scoring 15 points and hauling in a game-high 11 rebounds.  MTSU, which is now 21-4 overall and 13-1 in the SBC’s East Division, has prevailed in its last 25 home games to date.

ASU will seek to get back on the winning track this Saturday (Feb. 9) versus the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in a Sun Belt Conference encounter at Bowling Green, Ky.  Opening tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (CT) at WKU’s E.A. Diddle Arena in a game to be televised live on ESPN 3 and ESPN Full Court.

AStAte Notes: Cameron Golden posted his sixth double-figure points game and has now scored at least 15 points in a contest four times this season ... Marcus Hooten has reached double-digit points in three of his last four outings to date after tallying 10 points versus Middle Tennessee ...  Brandon Peterson became the eighth player to register 800 career rebounds and presently has an 805 career total in 119 games ... Trey Finn had his three-game double-figure scoring string snapped after being held to four points by Middle Tennessee ... The 34 bench points by MTSU was the second most allowed this season, trailing 42 given up to Louisiana-Lafayette (12/27) in an 87-70 ASU win ... The Red Wolves are 179-179 (.500 win pct.) in Sun Belt Conference games dating back to 1991-92 ... Middle Tennessee now holds a 15-14 advantage over A-State in their all-time series with the victory.