Redhawks try to end six-game skid vs. AP

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Governors continue to rule the OVC with a 9-2 mark.

Three times over the past two seasons, Southeast Missouri State has come agonizingly close to beating the Ohio Valley Conference's top men's basketball team.

The Redhawks hope to finally get over the hump tonight, and in the process end their six-game losing streak.

Southeast will have its second straight nationally televised contest when Austin Peay visits the Show Me Center for a 6 p.m. tipoff. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

"I think we owe them," sophomore point guard Roderick Pearson said.

Austin Peay (13-8, 9-2), the defending OVC regular-season champion, again sits at the top of the standings just past the midway point of the conference schedule.

Maybe no squad has given the Governors more trouble than Southeast since last season started -- except the Redhawks have nothing to show for their efforts.

Austin Peay won last year's two meetings by a combined three points, 68-67 in Cape Girardeau and 75-73 in Clarksville, Tenn.

Southeast's trend against the Govs continued this season when, on Jan. 12 in Clarksville, Austin Peay squeezed out an 85-82 win.

"Hopefully this is our time," Southeast coach Scott Edgar said. "We've had some great games with them."

The Redhawks (11-11, 6-6) desperately need to start stringing some wins together as they have fallen into a four-way tie for sixth place in the 11-team OVC.

Only the top eight finishers make the conference tournament, with the top four earning first-round home games. Southeast is just a game out of third place.

"We're fighting for some spots. ... Everybody [in the OVC] is fighting for some spots," Edgar said.

Edgar and his players are encouraged by the way Southeast performed Saturday at Murray State.

Even though the Redhawks suffered their sixth consecutive loss, 86-85, they had one of their better overall games of the season in the contest televised by ESPN2.

"I think we can build on it," said junior wing Jaycen Herring, Southeast's leading scorer at 12.9 points per game.

So does Edgar, who wasn't able to witness Saturday's contest in person. He served a one-game OVC suspension for criticizing the officials following Thursday's loss to Morehead State. Edgar liked what he saw on TV.

"I was really impressed. I saw a lot of great things. I thought they put on a tremendous performance," Edgar said. "For the most part we outplayed the hottest team in the league on their floor.

"I told them I could not have been any prouder even if they had won the game."

Southeast's earlier meeting against Austin Peay was marked by senior forward Brandon Foust suffering a season-ending knee injury midway through the second half.

The Redhawks have struggled without their top all-around player, and lately they have also been without sophomore guard Jimmy Drew, their leading 3-point shooter who has a stress fracture in his foot. Drew will miss tonight's game and likely will be out a few more games.

Austin Peay is coming off just its second conference loss of the season as the Govs were routed at Samford 63-49 on Saturday.

The Govs trailed 39-20 at halftime and never got closer than 11 points in the second half as they shot a season-low 30.8 percent.

The Govs are a veteran and versatile squad, with a strong inside game and solid outside shooters. They returned all five starters from last year's title team.

"They're seasoned, they've got excellent chemistry," Edgar said. "They're good."

Austin Peay leads Murray State by just one game in the OVC standings.

"Every game is a championship game for them, and every game is a championship game for us," Edgar said. "We're fighting with a lot of teams for the top four spots [in the OVC]."


* Southeast is billing tonight's game as "Red Out Night," with all fans urged to wear red.

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