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UPDATE: App State picks up record-breaking win over Arkansas State, 80-57, to claim SBC regular season title

By Zach Smith. BOONE, N.C. — With over 7,000 fans in attendance, App State looked to make history when they faced Arkansas State on March 1. The Mountaineers secured their program-record 26th win over the Red Wolves, 80-57.

Tre’Von Spillers recorded his tenth double-double of the season, netting 15 points and matching that total with 15 rebounds. Seniors Donovan Gregory and CJ Huntley scored 15 and 12, respectively, in their final game at the Holmes Center. Gregory added on a game-best four assists.

C J Huntley puts an exclamation point on the Mountaineers’ historic win to clinch the Sun Belt regular season championship. Photo by Flaco Rafael for High Country Sports.

Arkansas State was led by a 14-point performance from Taryn Todd, while Izaiyah Nelson grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.

For the second game in a row, the Mountaineers imposed their will early. App State opened the game with 11 of the contest’s first 13 points, quickly jumping out to a nine-point lead. Arkansas State brought the game back to within three points later in the first half, but App State responded with a 10-0 run. The Mountaineers went into the locker room with a 14-point advantage at the half.

The atmosphere was was electric on March 1, with over 7,000 in attendance including a packed student section watching Terence Harcum (23) size up a ‘three’ in the first half. Photo by Flaco Rafael for High Country Sports.

With just 20 minutes separating App State from program immortality, energy in the Holmes Center was at fever pitch. Although the Red Wolves tried to mount a comeback, the Mountaineers put any hopes the visitors had to bed. With a comfortable 23-point lead, App State called a timeout with just under a minute on the clock. Gregory and Huntley each walked off the court and head coach Dustin Kerns gave the nod to fellow senior Bryant Greene. With each of the 7,074 fans on their feet, Greene walked onto the floor for the final time as a Mountaineer. 

App State’s victory marked their program-record 26th win of the 2023-24 season. The Mountaineers also secured sole possession of a regular season title for the first time in nearly 50 years, while capping an unblemished record on home court. Kerns spoke on the significance of his team’s historic victory, postgame.

“Just an awesome night for App State University and our athletic program, and certainly our basketball program,” Kerns said. “Setting the program mark for wins with 26, [most in] program history, is a big deal. First Sun Belt regular season championship, first regular season championship since 1978, that’s a long time.”

Dustin Kerns celebrates App State’s first outright conference title in nearly half a century March 1 by cutting down the net. Photo by Joel Franquiz, courtesy of App State Athletics.

Fresh off his team’s 26th win, Kerns was asked to compare this season to other significant campaigns in App State’s history.

“I don’t want to discount those other great teams,” Kerns said. “They’ve been here, you know, there’s different conferences or different schedules. Certainly by the numbers, we’ve had the most wins in program history. So I think we’ve joined the conversation, but there’ve been some really good teams that have come through here and we’re excited to be celebrating with all of them.”

“This has been very surreal”

Bryant Greene played in his final regular season game as a Mountaineer in App State’s victory over Arkansas State. Greene compared the atmosphere in the Holmes Center this season to his freshman year.

Photo by Rafael Flaco for High Country Sports

“This has been very surreal,” Greene said. “I think for all of us, especially for me and Don [Gregory] getting here freshman year, coming to games and seeing like 400 people in the gym and now, getting to senior night in our fifth year and there’s 6,000 people and we’re playing for a regular season title. It’s just very surreal and a very amazing experience.”

App State also set a program record in attendance over the course of the 2023-24 season. Fans at the Holmes Center never saw a loss at home. Gregory explained what it means to the players to have that support from the fans.

“I think it’s just a direct correlation, how good we played at home,” Gregory said. “Just having those fans, having that support, it just makes you want to go out there and play even harder. I think everybody coming to the games is a big part of the reason why we went undefeated at home.”

FILE PHOTO. CJ Huntley slams home two of his 13 points in App State’s Feb. 10 win over Toledo. Photographic image by Flaco Rafael for High Country Sports.

CJ Huntley echoed that appreciation for the fanbase.

“This just feels crazy, really,” Huntley said. “Just all the students and fans and everything like that, just their support for us. It just means the world to me, so I appreciate it.”

App State shot at a 49 percent clip to secure their historic win, besting Arkansas State’s 35 percent mark. The Mountaineers out-rebounded the Red Wolves, 48-38, and improved on their nation-best blocks per game with seven swatted shots. App State never trailed Arkansas State.

Photo by Flaco Rafael for High Country Sports

The Red Wolves are locked in the No. 4 seed for the upcoming Sun Belt tournament, securing the last double-bye. Arkansas State’s quarterfinals matchup is set for March 9 at 2 p.m. Central Time, with the opponent to be announced following the March 7 second round games. The contest will be streamed on ESPN+.

App State clinched the Sun Belt regular season title with their win over the Red Wolves. The Mountaineers return to action March 9 at 11:30 a.m. Central Time, with their opponent to be determined. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

Photo by Flaco Rafael for High Country Sports

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