Redhawks get second crack at Hudson

Thursday, January 22, 2009

As if things weren't bad enough for the Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team, now the Redhawks have to see Lester Hudson again.

Just last week the nation's second-leading scorer torched Southeast for 38 points during an 81-67 Tennessee-Martin victory at the Show Me Center.

Tonight the Redhawks and surging Skyhawks meet again, this time in Martin, Tenn., in a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.

UTM, the Ohio Valley Conference's preseason No. 2 pick, is the hottest squad in the league with four straight wins and victories in 10 of its past 11 games.

The Skyhawks (12-6, 5-3) have moved up to fourth place in the 10-team OVC, 1 1/2 games behind league-leading Austin Peay.

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

Meanwhile, last-place Southeast (3-16, 0-8) has suffered eight consecutive losses, including all four games of a recent homestand.

But perhaps there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel for the undermanned Redhawks.

After dropping its first two games of the homestand by 20 and 14 points, Southeast lost 73-67 to second-place Morehead State and 74-71 to Eastern Kentucky as the Colonels hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

"We're getting better and better," Roman said. "We're right there."

Senior forward Jaycen Herring said the Redhawks have shown they'll continue to fight no matter how many things are going against them.

"Our record might look bad, but we're going to compete with everybody," Herring said. "We're not going to lay down."

The Redhawks certainly can't lay down if they expect to have any shot of contending with Hudson and the Skyhawks.

Hudson, a 6-foot-2 senior combo guard, burst onto the Division I scene a year ago after transferring from junior college, averaging 25.7 points per game to rank fifth nationally. He was the OVC player of the year.

Hudson is scoring at an even higher rate this season, his 27.4 average placing him No. 2 nationally.

But Hudson is not just a scorer. He is second in the OVC in steals (2.7 per game), seventh in rebounding (7.1) and eighth in assists (3.8). He also leads the league in free-throw shooting (89.1 percent).

"He's a great all-around player. He does so many things," UTM coach Bret Campbell said. "He makes everyone around him better."

Hudson is the OVC player of the week for an unprecedented fifth straight week after averaging 30.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.7 steals as UTM won three road games last week.

It's no wonder Hudson -- the only player in the nation to have scored at least 20 points in every game this season -- is regarded as a solid NBA prospect.

"He's a great player. He can score in so many ways and he can do so many different things," Roman said. "But I'm looking forward to the challenge of getting another crack at Lester. I know our players are.

"We have to step up. We can't let him get 38 again."

It should help Southeast that 6-9 junior center Calvin Williams, among the OVC leaders in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, has returned to action after missing the last UTM game with an ankle injury.

"Having Calvin out there should help us defensively, not letting them get to the basket as much," Roman said.

UTM has one other double-figure scorer in 6-1 sophomore guard Marquis Weddle (13.2 ppg), the OVC's freshman of the year last season.

The Skyhawks are the conference's highest-scoring team with a 78.9 average.

Following tonight's game, the Redhawks play at Murray State on Saturday night.

The preseason OVC favorite Racers (8-9, 3-4) are struggling as they are tied for sixth place in the conference.

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