Mountaineers secure two conference wins at home


Courtesy of Andy McLean, App State Athletics

Junior guard Xavion Brown drives past his defender in App State’s 12-point win over Arkansas State Jan. 28, 2023.

James Parker and Bobby Phillips

App State returned home for two conference wins, defeating Georgia State Jan. 26 and Arkansas State Saturday. 

The matchup with the Panthers started out neck and neck with both teams scoring close to the basket. This changed after a 12-0 Mountaineer run, putting App State up 26-10 with 10 minutes left in the first half. 

App State propelled itself ahead by shooting the ball efficiently from three-point range. The team as a whole shot 45% from downtown in the first half, with sophomore forward Chris Mantis leading the charge by knocking down four 3-pointers.

“I try not to rush anything,” Mantis said. “I just let the game come to me.”

Georgia State failed to respond to this massive shooting spree and only shot 18% from 3-point range in the first half.

The team played well despite missing its leading scorer in graduate transfer guard Tyree Boykin. Boykin went down earlier this month against Georgia Southern and hopes to make a return to the court soon. 

“We don’t need these out of body experiences, we just need to be the best versions of ourselves,” head coach Dustin Kerns said.

Xavion Brown was dynamic all game with his great hustle, fighting for the ball at every opportunity. Brown took a hard fall toward the end of the first half but was able to get back into the game and lead the team with eight rebounds.

Senior forward Donovan Gregory led the team in scoring in the first half with 13 points and four rebounds. App State went into halftime up 42-27 against the Panthers. 

Coming out of the second half, sophomore guard Terence Harcum caught fire by scoring 10 points down the final stretch of the game. Harcum ended up leading the team in scoring with 21 points and was the driving force behind the Mountaineers claiming their 12th win of the season. Harcum also led the team in assists with four.

“Right now things are seeming to click, and I just hope we can keep this going,” Harcum said.

Freshman forward Justin Abson continued his dominance on the defensive end with an imposing four blocks. Abson is top 20 in total blocks for D-1 play.

The Mountaineers slowed down offensively in the second half but were able to keep a Georgia State comeback at bay; the closest Georgia State came in the second half was nine points. 

Georgia State ended the game shooting 43% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc.

In their matchup against Arkansas State on Saturday, the Mountaineers secured a 63-51 victory. They were led by Harcum, who put up 15 points, as well as junior forward CJ Huntley, who had 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Abson also finished with 10 points and three blocks.

App State started the game at full speed. After an Arkansas State turnover immediately following tip-off, Huntley knocked down a 3-pointer before the Red Wolves responded with a layup of their own. 

After just one minute of action, Huntley swatted a layup on the defensive end and then came down and hit another three-pointer to give the Mountaineers a 6-2 lead. 

Although App State’s offense cooled off as the first half carried on, its defense allowed the Red Wolves to make just 37% of their shots during the first half. Despite going through a scoring drought in the minutes leading up to halftime, the Mountaineers went into the break with a 31-25 lead.

“We were really tough,” Kerns said. “We got big stops down the stretch and withstanded their run.”

After a quiet first half, Harcum began the second half by hitting three 3-pointers in a span of three minutes. These long-range buckets combined with a two-handed slam from Abson extended App State’s lead to 13 points with 15 minutes left in the game.

After a scorching start to the second half, the Mountaineers kept their lead above seven points throughout the rest of the game as they secured their third win in a row. This win boosts their overall record to 13-10 and their conference record to 6-4.

“I’ve had a hot streak recently,” Harcum said. “My confidence in my game is what kept me shooting, and they just happened to fall.” 

After the game, Kerns made a statement regarding the status of freshman guard Zocko Littleton Jr.

“Zocko came into the office yesterday and is going to enter the transfer portal,” Kerns said. “We wish him and his family all the best.”

In eight games as a Mountaineer, Littleton Jr. averaged two points per game on 38% shooting.

The Black and Gold will face off against Marshall on ESPN+ Thursday at 6:30 p.m.