Southeast will christen new year by hosting Lincoln University

Friday, December 31, 2004

The Division II school will provide a final test Saturday before the onset of OVC play.

Southeast Missouri State University coach Gary Garner will be focusing as much on his team's mental side as its physical one in preparation for Saturday night's game against Lincoln University.

Southeast (4-6) and the Division II Blue Tigers (1-9) from Jefferson City, Mo., will square off at 7:30 p.m. at the Show Me Center in Southeast's final non-conference contest of the season.

Following Wednesday's 65-49 romp at St. Louis University, Garner said, "Our team really got mentally ready to play tonight. Now, can we get mentally ready to play again against a team we should beat? Needless to say, that's a big concern."

Garner is hoping that two days of practice leading up to Saturday's game will help Southeast come down a bit from the high of a surprisingly easy victory over the Billikens that marked Southeast's first road triumph of the year.

Southeast never trailed in crushing its higher profile state rival, leading 34-18 at halftime and by 26 points twice in the second half. The Billikens got no closer than 14 points until the final minute.

The Billikens (2-9) are struggling, but except for lopsided road defeats to SIU and nationally ranked Gonzaga, all of their losses had been close prior to Wednesday.

"It was a really good win for us," Garner said. "I thought we could win but I didn't think we'd dominate the game like we did."

Southeast, which has suffered five of its six losses by a total of 22 points, shot 52.2 percent from the field and hit eight of 14 3-pointers against one of Conference USA's top defensive teams. Southeast had only 11 turnovers.

"We really executed," Garner said. "We've lost some close games but we've hung in there and it was nice to see the guys rewarded like that."

Senior forward Reggie Golson had 19 points and nine rebounds; senior forward Dainmon Gonner had 17 points; and senior guard Derek Winans added 13 points in his best performance since returning from an injury. Winans hit all three of his 3-point attempts, was four of five from the floor overall, and had four steals.

"My legs are coming back," Winans said. "I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable."

Sophomore guard Terrick Willoughby hit three of five shots and added eight points. Freshman point guard Paul Paradoski, a St. Louis native, had a strong floor game with four assists, two steals and just two turnovers while running the team for 34 minutes.

"It was a real nice win for us," Gonner said.

Now Southeast will try to avoid an upset Saturday night while building momentum for the start of Ohio Valley Conference play. Southeast begins with two road games, at defending champion Austin Peay on Jan. 6 and Tennessee Tech on Jan. 8.

"We really want to take a two-game winning streak into conference," Golson said. "We can't have a letdown."

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