Hot Redhawks visit streaking Governors

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Southeast seeks its fourth straight victory but must end drought at Austin Peay.

Southeast Missouri State coach Scott Edgar figures the Redhawks already have had a great run through one of the toughest stretches of their Ohio Valley Conference schedule.

But winning another road game tonight would top it off in a big way.

Southeast (6-11, 4-4 OVC) and Austin Peay (8-6, 5-1) -- the league's two hottest teams -- square off in a 7:30 p.m. tipoff in Clarksville, Tenn.

The Redhawks are riding a three-game winning streak, all in conference play.

Two of those victories were on the road, against Eastern Kentucky and Murray State, with a home triumph over Eastern Illinois sandwiched in. All of the wins were by at least 11 points.

Tonight concludes a stretch for the Redhawks of three road contests in a four-game period. After that, Southeast plays six of its next eight games at home.

"It's been a great stretch for us," Edgar said. "Eastern Kentucky was playing very well, I was worried about a letdown against Eastern Illinois, then we had to play the defending OVC champion [Murray State].

"We have those wins under our belts. Hopefully our momentum will continue to create energy and we can take that to Clarksville. Winning at Austin Peay won't make or break us, but it would be a great one to get."

The odds will be stacked against the Redhawks, who are tied for sixth place in the 11-team OVC after starting last week tied for last place.

Second-place Austin Peay, which has won five straight games and is just one-half game out of first, owns eight consecutive victories over Southeast at the Dunn Center.

The last time Southeast won at Austin Peay was during the 1998-99 season. Overall, the Redhawks have lost 13 of the past 14 meetings against the Govs.

Throw in the fact the Redhawks will be without two starters tonight and things figure to be even tougher.

Junior center Mike Rembert will miss the game because of an automatic OVC suspension after he received two technical fouls and was ejected from Monday's game at Murray State.

Senior guard Terrick Willoughby will miss his second straight game after coming down with mononucleosis. Willoughby also will probably miss the Redhawks' two home contests next week.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Rembert is Southeast's third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, with averages of 9.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Willoughby, averaging 7.3 points per game, is shooting 40.3 percent from 3-point range to rank eighth in the OVC.

"Those are two key players for us," Edgar said. "It will be difficult without them, but we'll just have to do it collectively and have a lot of people step up, like they did at Murray State."

The Redhawks are confident that will be the case.

"Everybody has been playing good," junior point guard Paul Paradoski said. "When we play like that, we're hard to beat."

Said junior forward Brandon Foust: "We had a lot of people come off the bench and do a good job [at Murray State]. That's what we need again."

The Govs are led by the OVC's dean of coaches. Dave Loos is in his 17th season at Austin Peay and, with a win tonight, would become the all-time winningest coach in the history of Austin Peay basketball. He has been voted OVC coach of the year four times.

"They are very well coached. Dave Loos does an outstanding job," Edgar said. "It's always tough to play in the Dunn Center, and they always put a good team on the floor.

"Austin Peay is probably one of the most surprising teams in the league so far. It will be as difficult a game as we've had in the conference."

Southeast is first in the OVC with an average of 78 points per game, while Austin Peay is third at 72.5 points per game.

The Govs, whose tallest starter is 6-5, feature the OVC's No. 5 scorer in 6-5 sophomore forward Drake Reed (15.7 points per game).

Fernandez Lockett, a 6-5 junior forward, is the OVC's top rebounder with an 8.1 average.

Austin Peay also has the league's top 3-point shooter in junior guard Derek Wright (47.5 percent, 19 of 40).

The Govs lead the league in 3-point field-goal percentage during conference games at 43.8, with Wright (57.9, 11 of 19) and 6-5 junior guard Todd Babbington (53.1, 17 of 32) their top marksmen.

"They are built on speed and quickness. Sometimes those are the toughest teams to play against," Edgar said.

But the Redhawks aren't about to concede anything, especially not after winning their past two OVC road games in convincing fashion.

"We've got our confidence now," Foust said. "If we play good, we know we can beat anybody."

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