Southeast to begin post-Foust era tonight

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Redhawks will play their first game since one of their top players injured his knee.

The Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team beat both Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech at the Show Me Center last month.

Southeast would love to duplicate that feat on the road as the Redhawks continue the toughest stretch of their Ohio Valley Conference schedule.

First up this week for the Redhawks (11-7, 6-2) is tonight's 7:30 p.m. game against Tennessee State (6-10, 3-4) in Nashville.

The Redhawks play at Tennessee Tech (7-11, 4-4) on Saturday in a 1 p.m. tipoff.

"We played well against both teams early," Southeast coach Scott Edgar said. "Hopefully we can do the same thing there."

Southeast, after winning its first six OVC games for just the second time in program history, has lost two straight to fall into second place in the 11-team league.

The Redhawks are one game behind defending regular-season champion Austin Peay (7-1), which beat visiting Southeast 85-82 on Saturday.

After finishing their three-game road stretch this week, the Redhawks return home to face Morehead State before visiting Murray State and then hosting Austin Peay.

Murray State, in third place in the OVC, handed Southeast its first conference loss, 79-51 on Jan. 7 in Cape Girardeau.

"We're in a very challenging part of our conference schedule," Edgar said. "But this league is so balanced, every game is very challenging.

"We won those two in Alabama basically at the buzzer [by one point at both Samford and Jacksonville State], which is why we're 6-2 in the league right now."

The Redhawks will be challenged the rest of the season because they will be without their top all-around player, senior forward Brandon Foust.

Foust, averaging 11.6 points and 6.4 rebounds, suffered a serious knee injury at Austin Peay. He will need surgery, ending his college career.

Foust, Southeast's No. 2 scorer and tied for first in rebounding, had produced four double-doubles in five games before Saturday.

"Brandon was having a great year," Edgar said. "We'll miss him very much, but we do have some depth and I think this team should be able to collectively fight through it."

Sophomore forward Calvin Williams, who has played center and power forward, should receive more minutes at power forward now, and Edgar said Johnny Hill likely will receive more playing time, after he has languished on the bench most of the season.

"We will have to pull together as a team," Edgar said. "I will have to coach better, the players will have to play better and we will have to develop a chemistry that can keep us in the race for the OVC championship."

This week the Redhawks will face teams considered to be among the league's most talented squads, although both have been inconsistent.

Tonight's opponent, TSU, has the OVC's top nonconference win, at Illinois. The Tigers also lost by just nine points at nationally ranked Vanderbilt.

Southeast won a 102-95 shootout against the Tigers on Dec. 6 at the Show Me Center.

TSU was led in that game by 6-foot-3 junior guard Bruce Price with 32 points and 6-0 freshman guard Gerald Robinson with 31 points.

Price is the OVC's second-leading scorer at 18.6 points per game. He also ranks third in assists (82) and steals (37), and he has made and attempted the most free throws in the league (100-of-143).

Robinson averages 15.1 points, while 6-8 junior forward Jerrell Houston -- a former Mississippi State transfer -- provides 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds.

"I think Tennessee State is very dangerous," Edgar said. "They're good, and they're at home."

Edgar said the same goes for Tech, which Southeast beat 84-74 on Dec. 8 in Cape Girardeau.

"I think we'll play well this week, but both teams we'll be playing will have a comfort zone of being at home" Edgar said. "Hopefully we can steal one on the road."

Probable lineups

Southeast (11-7, 6-2 OVC)

FCalvin Williams6-9 So.7.7
CMike Rembert6-9 Sr.5.8
GDavid Johnson6-4 Sr.4.3
GMarcus Rhodes6-2 So.7.2
GRod Pearson6-2 So.10.7

Tennessee State (6-10, 3-4 OVC)

PPlayerHt. Yr.Avg.
FJerrell Houston6-8 Jr.11.5
FDarius Cox6-7 Fr.6.6
GReiley Ervin5-10 Sr.4.7
GGerald Robinson 6-0 Fr. 15.1
GBruce Price6-3 Jr.18.6

n Series: Southeast leads 17-16.

* Earlier meeting: Southeast won 102-95 on Dec. 6 in Cape Girardeau.

* Last season: Southeast won 92-78 in Cape Girardeau and Tennessee State won 75-72 in Nashville, Tenn.

* Coaches: Scott Edgar is 22-27 in his second season at Southeast and 130-122 in his ninth season overall; Cy Alexander is 48-85 in his fifth season at Tennessee State and 329-285 in his 21st season overall.

* Opponent key player: Price, who missed most of the past two seasons with knee injuries after being named the OVC freshman of the year in 2004-05, is the OVC's second-leading scorer. He also ranks third in both assists and steals, and he has made and attempted the most free throws in the league (100-of-143).

* Noteworthy: The 102 points Southeast scored in the earlier meeting with Tennessee State matched the program's most points since Southeast scored 109 against Troy State in 1995-96. Southeast also netted 102 points against Eastern Illinois in 2001-02.

* Radio: KEZS-102.9

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