Golson finds spot in starting lineup

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

It took a lot longer than Southeast Missouri State University coach Gary Garner had originally anticipated, but Reggie Golson has finally broken into the starting lineup.

Golson, a 6-foot-7 junior forward who missed several weeks of practice early in the season with an ankle injury, made his first Southeast start Saturday at Austin Peay. He's scheduled to be in the lineup again Thursday night when the Indians (9-8, 2-4 Ohio Valley Conference) play at Jacksonville State (9-9, 2-5).

"We had planned on Reggie being a big part of our basketball team, probably a starter, but because of all the injuries he was just behind," Garner said.

The emergence of Golson and also senior Damarcus Hence has caused a logjam at the small forward position, meaning that junior Norman Prather -- a starter for the early part of the season -- has not played in the last two games and has played just four minutes combined in the past five games.

"It's hard to play three guys at that spot," Garner said. "It's not that Norman's not good enough to play. He's really close. It's a tough decision."

Griffin has big tripEven though the Indians suffered narrow losses to Tennessee Tech (74-73) and Austin Peay (54-52) during last week's road trip to Tennessee, senior center Brandon Griffin had two big performances.

Griffin led the Indians in scoring in each game, getting a combined 38 points. He made 17 of 24 field-goal attempts, pulled down 16 rebounds and had five assists while committing just two turnovers.

"Brandon is really playing well," Garner said. "He was our most consistent player on this trip."

Griffin has increased his season scoring average to 12.1 points per game, which is third on the team. He's the Indians' leading rebounder at 7.2 per contest after setting a school single-season rebounding record last year.

But Griffin would have gladly traded his strong road trip for a pair of victories. The Indians have lost their four OVC games by a total of nine points.

"Losing those close games is frustrating," he said. "But we just have to keep working hard and I know we'll start winning some of these games."

Junior guard Derek Winans (13.8 ppg) and junior forward Dainmon Gonner (12.3 ppg) continue to rank as Southeast's top two scorers, although Gonner is averaging just 8.7 in conference play.

Memories of JSUSoutheast and first-year OVC member Jacksonville State from Alabama have met on the basketball court just once -- but longtime Indian basketball fans probably haven't forgotten that game.

It took place in 1985 during the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Tournament at Houck Field House in Cape Girardeau. The Gamecocks hit a long shot at the buzzer to stun the Indians and their supporters 80-79. Jacksonville State went on to win the national title.

The following season, the Indians advanced all the way to the Division II championship game before losing.

After facing Jacksonville State, the Indians will remain in Alabama for Saturday afternoon's contest against Samford (8-9, 3-3) in Birmingham. The Bulldogs are the OVC's other new member.

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