Reeling Redhawks visit improved Gamecocks

Monday, January 5, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. -- One of the early surprise men's basketball teams in the Ohio Valley Conference awaits reeling Southeast Missouri State.

And considering Jacksonville State is coming off a loss, an angry bunch of Gamecocks likely will greet the Redhawks for today's 7:30 p.m. tipoff in Jacksonville, Ala.

The Gamecocks (7-4, 1-1 OVC) already have matched their win total from a year ago, when they went 7-22 overall and finished last in the league at 5-15.

But JSU lost 78-69 Saturday night against visiting Eastern Illinois.

"They've really been playing well this season," Southeast acting coach Zac Roman said.

The same can't be said for the Redhawks (3-11, 0-3), who have lost three in a row and eight of their last nine.

Roman was as noticeably upset following Southeast's latest setback as he has been after any contest this season. That was Saturday's 103-76 blowout at Tennessee Tech, which carved up Southeast's defense with 56.9 percent field-goal shooting. The Eagles hit 14 of 29 3-pointers.

The Eagles scored the most points against Southeast this season, surpassing the 102 New Mexico put up in the season opener.

Southeast junior forward Calvin Williams, who led Southeast with 24 points and 11 rebounds, said the Redhawks lacked the intensity they needed, which apparently drew Roman's ire.

"We just have to have more intensity every minute of the game," said Williams, fifth in the OVC in scoring and third in rebounding with averages of 17.3 points and 7.6 boards per game. "We just have to have more intensity every second out there."

Southeast, which because of injuries will have just seven available scholarship players for the second straight game, likely will need plenty of intensity tonight.

JSU, despite being picked last in the OVC preseason poll, already has won by 16 points at the same Tennessee Tech squad that routed the Redhawks by 27 points.

Under first-year coach James Green, JSU arguably has the OVC's top nonconference win at Massachusetts.

The Gamecocks also beat VMI, which owns a victory over Kentucky.

"Last year they were where we're at now, but they've gotten a lot better," Williams said.

JSU features a balanced offensive attack with five double-figure scorers. All five players average between 10 and 12.1 points per game.

JSU's attack is run by lightning-quick DeAndre Bray, a 5-6 senior point guard who leads the conference in assists at 6.1 per contest.

Bray was 11th nationally in assists last season with a 6.4 average.

Williams said the Redhawks need to put Saturday's poor performance behind them and work harder to get a win before they return home for four straight OVC games.

"We just have to regroup and get back to the drawing board," Williams said.

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