Hard-luck Gamecocks still seeking 1st OVC 'W'

Sunday, December 17, 2006

After two narrow league losses, Jacksonville State takes on Southeast today at Show Me Center.

It's hard to imagine there being a more hard-luck team in the nation through the early part of the college basketball season than Jacksonville State.

The Gamecocks have lost their first two Ohio Valley Conference games by one point on shots in the final seconds.

"They have lost some really tough games, but they have a very good team," Southeast Missouri State coach Scott Edgar said. "I would imagine they're wounded so to speak because of the way they lost those games.

"In most cases, wounded teams are very dangerous."

Southeast will try to avoid being bit by the wounded Gamecocks when they visit the Show Me Center for today's 4:30 p.m. tipoff that begins a two-game OVC homestand.

The Redhawks (3-7, 1-2) are in a three-way tie for eighth place in the 11-team OVC. Jacksonville State (2-6, 0-2) is last.

Tuesday night's opponent for the Redhawks, preseason OVC favorite Samford (3-4, 1-0), is one of only two teams to have not yet suffered a league defeat.

"These will be two very challenging games for us, but it's good to be at home," Edgar said. "There is a long way to go in the OVC race. It's really just starting, but it's very important that we protect our home court."

Jacksonville State is led by 6-foot-5 senior forward Courtney Bradley, a preseason first-team all-OVC pick.

Bradley is third in the conference in both scoring and rebounding at 19.4 points and 8.9 boards per game.

He is shooting 54.2 percent from the field, which is sixth in the league, and has also hit six of 11 3-pointers.

Dorien Brown, a 6-7 junior forward who was a preseason second-team all-league pick, adds 12.7 points per game for the Gamecocks.

"They have two very good forwards," said Edgar of Bradley and Brown.

The Gamecocks also feature 5-6 sophomore point guard DeAndre Bray, who tops the OVC in assists with 5.9 a contest.

Jacksonville State is second in the conference in scoring with 70.4 points per game, but the Gamecocks are allowing 73.5 points a contest to rank ninth -- ahead of Southeast's 10th-place scoring defense average of 78.8.

The Gamecocks lead the league in free-throw shooting at 70.4 percent, while the Redhawks are last at 57.4 percent.

Jacksonville State and Southeast are statistically the two worst 3-point shooting teams in the OVC, the Redhawks 10th at 28.9 percent and the Gamecocks last at 26.5 percent.

The Gamecocks' OVC losses have both been at home, to Samford 54-53 on a 3-pointer with 5 seconds left and to Tennessee-Martin 70-69 on a layup with 1 second to go.

Southeast has won its only home conference game so far, 81-79 over Tennessee-Martin after the Redhawks trailed by 14 points in the second half.

The Redhawks' two OVC losses have been on the road, 75-72 at Tennessee State and 91-76 at Tennessee Tech.

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