Despite woes, Indians threaten school marks

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Southeast Missouri State University's men's basketball team is going to fall far below the .500 level for the second straight year, but several Indians are assured of either breaking school single-season records or coming close.

As the Indians (10-17, 4-10 Ohio Valley Conference) prepare for their final two games of the regular season this week, at Tennessee Tech (16-11, 9-5) Thursday night and at Tennessee State (2-23, 0-14) Saturday night, junior center Brandon Griffin is closing in on Bud Eley's rebounding record.

Griffin, a 6-foot-8 junior-college transfer, already has the third-highest seasonal rebound total in Southeast history with 283. Eley, one of the top centers to ever play at Southeast, twice grabbed 310 rebounds in a season.

In addition to this week's two games, the Indians are guaranteed at least one game next week in the OVC Tournament. So Griffin needs to average just under 10 rebounds in those three contests to break Eley's mark.

Considering that Griffin is averaging 10.5 rebounds per game to rank second in the OVC and 12th nationally, Eley's mark appears to be very attainable.

"To break a record like Bud's would be quite an accomplishment," Southeast coach Gary Garner said.

By any standards, Griffin has had a sensational rookie season with the Indians after transferring from Southwest Mississippi Community College. Griffin is averaging a double-double this season, with 12.1 points in addition to the 10.5 rebounds.

"Brandon has really had a good season. He's helped us hold our own on the boards after we were really poor in that area last year," Garner said. "When we signed him, we hoped he could give us seven or eight rebounds a game. To average more than 10 for the entire season is really something. And he's also given us more scoring than we thought he would."

Sophomore guard Brett Hale, is on pace to record the highest seasonal free-throw percentage ever at Southeast. Hale leads the OVC at 93.1 percent as he has made 54 of 58. Cory Johnson has the school mark of 92.6. Hale would rank among the national leaders if he had enough attempts to qualify.

Another sophomore, point guard Kevin Roberts, who leads the OVC and is 16th nationally in assists with 6.3 per game, has 163 assists on the season to rank second on the school's seasonal list. Dwayne Rutherford's mark of 200 assists appears to be out of reach, unless the Indians would win a game or two in the OVC Tournament.

Roberts has 205 career assists and needs just 21 more to move into 10th place on the school's career list.Noteworthy

***In the latest NCAA team statistics, Southeast led the nation in assists with 18.6 per game through games of Feb. 10, although that figure has since dropped to 18 per contest.

The Indians also ranked eighth nationally in 3-point field-goal percentage with 40.1 percent, although they have since fallen to 39.5 percent.

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