Dubious streak to end in men's game

Thursday, January 29, 2009
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
Southeast Missouri State's Calvin Williams slam dunks against Eastern Kentucky earlier this season.

One losing streak is guaranteed to end at the Show Me Center tonight.

Southeast Missouri State hopes to be the men's basketball team celebrating.

The Redhawks seek their first Ohio Valley Conference win of the season when they host Jacksonville State in a 7:45 p.m. tipoff that will go off as scheduled despite the winter storm that has covered the area.

Southeast (3-18, 0-10) has lost 10 straight games, while JSU (8-10, 2-7) has suffered six straight defeats.

The Redhawks are last in the 10-team OVC and the Gamecocks are ninth.

JSU's most recent win came over Southeast, 71-66 on Jan. 5 in Jacksonville, Ala.

That contest saw the Redhawks rally from a 21-point deficit early in the second half to pull within three points twice, the final time with 10 seconds left. But the Gamecocks held on.

"We had a really good comeback when we played them down there," Southeast acting coach Zac Roman said. "Hopefully we can get off to a better start so we don't have to come from that far behind."

Southeast hasn't tasted a victory since Dec. 21, when the Redhawks slipped past Western Illinois by one point in nonconference play.

That triumph is the only one in the past 16 games for the Redhawks.

"Everybody is working hard, trying to get that first win," senior forward Jaycen Herring said.

JSU is coming off Saturday's 86-80 loss at first-place Austin Peay.

The Gamecocks trailed 85-67 with under four minutes left, but a furious rally made it 85-80 before the Governors held on.

Jeremy Bynum, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard, leads four JSU players averaging in double figures with 12.1 points per game.

Bynum led the Gamecocks with 15 points in the first meeting against Southeast. The Redhawks were paced by junior center Calvin Williams with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Although the Gamecocks are struggling now, they were the OVC's biggest surprise during the nonleague season.

JSU was picked last in the OVC preseason poll after occupying the basement a year ago.

But under first-year coach James Green, the Gamecocks won six of their first seven games. Included was a home rout of VMI -- which beat Kentucky -- and a road upset of Massachusetts.

Despite their recent struggles, the Gamecocks already have exceeded their victory total from last season, when they went 7-22.

"They really started the season well, but they've kind of been struggling lately," Roman said. "But they're an improved team from last year."

While JSU might be hungry for a win, the Redhawks are starving for a victory.

Southeast has lost 17 consecutive OVC games dating back to last season. They have lost 23 of 24 conference contests over the past calendar year.

Following tonight's matchup, the Redhawks close out their two-game homestand Saturday night against Tennessee Tech (10-9, 4-5).

The Golden Eagles, who routed Southeast 103-76 on Jan. 3 in Cookeville, Tenn., are tied for seventh in the OVC.

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