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Harding presents harder challenge
Southeast Missouri State University's men's basketball team figures to receive a much stiffer test in its final exhibition game tonight.
After destroying hapless NAIA program Harris-Stowe 90-41 in its exhibition opener last Saturday, Southeast faces a solid Division II squad tonight when Harding (Ark.) University visits the Show Me Center for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.
Harding is coming off an 18-10 season that included an 87-81 loss at Division I Arkansas State. The Bison return three of their top five scorers in 6-foot-6 Matt Hall (13.3 points per game), 5-11 Emmanuel White (11.9) and 6-6 James Profit (10.1), a former Three Rivers Community College player.
"Harding will be a much tougher test for us," Southeast coach Gary Garner said. "They're a good basketball team, and being Division II, they'll really get up for us, even though it's just an exhibition game."
Garner said it was hard to tell how well Southeast played against Harris-Stowe, but he was pleased overall.
"It's really hard to evaluate your team against Harris-Stowe, because we were much more talented than them and shots came easily," Garner said. "But there were a lot of positive things. I really liked the way we distributed the basketball, and got the basketball to the open man.
"Defensively, we played well, but it's hard to say because we had more talent than them. But we found out a lot of things about individual players."
Returning senior forward Dainmon Gonner hit nine of 13 shots and scored 21 points while grabbing 13 rebounds, as Southeast held a whopping 58-24 advantage on the boards.
Reggie Golson, another returning senior forward, had 16 points and eight rebounds.
Center Ketshner Guerrier, a junior college transfer, hit eight of nine shots and scored 18 points in just 12 minutes. He also pulled down nine rebounds.
"It's hard to tell how well he played because he was so much better than anybody inside, but you get the ball to Ketshner and he can score," Garner said.
Garner also was pleased with Waylon Francis, another junior college transfer at center. He and Guerrier will be counted on to share the load in the middle after Brandon Griffin completed his eligibility last season.
"I was more pleased with Waylon's defense than Ketshner's, but we're going to need them both," Garner said. "I can see them both starting back and forth. They're both going to play a lot."
Returning sophomore guard Terrick Willoughby added 10 points, junior college transfer guard Ryan Belcher contributed nine points, returning senior guard Brett Hale had eight points and returning senior guard Mike Nelke dished out seven assists.
Southeast could be shorthanded tonight. Already out is senior guard Derek Winans, the team's leading scorer the past three year who has not yet practiced because of a stress fracture in his leg that will likely force him to miss at least the first few games of the season.
Belcher sprained an ankle during practice this week and might not play tonight, while junior college transfer James White, a reserve forward, continues to be bothered by knee problems and is also questionable.