Redhawks look to upend Hawkeyes

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team faces its third major-conference opponent of the young season tonight.

The Redhawks (1-2) believe they are ready to at least threaten for their first upset of the year when they play at Iowa (4-0). The tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m. in Iowa City, Iowa.

"I think we can compete with them," junior forward Calvin Williams said.

Southeast did not come close to scaring either of its first two opponents, losing at New Mexico of the Mountain West Conference 102-59 and Kansas State of the Big 12 Conference 88-68.

But the Redhawks believe they took a step forward by outscoring Kansas State 52-49 in the second half.

The Redhawks think the progress continued with Friday's 89-50 blowout of NAIA Culver-Stockton in their only home game so far that featured the return of Williams from a suspension.

"We had glimpses [of competing] at New Mexico and Kansas State," said the 6-foot-9 Williams, who is Southeast's tallest player.

Added senior forward Jaycen Herring: "We just look at them [Iowa] as another opponent. We just have to do what we do best and try to carry the momentum."

Iowa is in something of a rebuilding period after going 13-19 last year, finishing eighth in the Big 10 Conference and losing its top two scorers.

Although the Hawkeyes have won their first four games this season, they have not faced a difficult schedule.

The Hawkeyes' victories have come against Charleston Southern 68-48, Texas-San Antonio 73-67, The Citadel 70-48 and Oakland 66-57. Three of the four games were at home.

Southeast acting coach Zac Roman believes Iowa will be a solid team, but a squad the Redhawks can compete with.

"I think we can play with anybody," Roman said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what we do against a Big 10 team."

Iowa's top scorer is 6-4 freshman Anthony Tucker, who is averaging 16.3 points per game and shooting 43.2 percent from 3-point range (16 of 37).

Another freshman, 6-5 Matt Gatens, is averaging 10.8 points.

Cyrus Tate, one of the Hawkeyes' few key returning players from last season, is their top inside threat.

Tate, a 6-8, 240-pound senior, is averaging 10.5 points and 8.8 rebounds, while shooting 81.8 percent from the field (18 of 22).

Iowa is shooting 52.8 percent from the floor, including 40.7 percent from 3-point range.

"They'll be another good, quality opponent for us," Roman said.

The Iowa game is part of the Las Vegas Invitational, as was the Kansas State contest.

Following tonight's matchup, the Redhawks will remain on the road to close out the tournament with two games in Las Vegas, against Longwood Friday and either Oakland or Delaware State Saturday.

Southeast beat Longwood 82-78 last season during a tournament in Chicago. Oakland already owns a victory at Oregon this year.

"Both those games in Las Vegas will be tough, no matter who we play Saturday," Roman said.

The Redhawks are playing five of their first six games are away from Cape Girardeau, including the three against squads from major conferences.

"Hopefully all these tough early games will make us better and help us get ready for the conference season," Roman said.

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