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Former team burns Nutt's Redhawks in Southeast men's basketball home opener
Anthony Allison said what happened to the Southeast Missouri State basketball team Wednesday night was simple to explain.
Arkansas State threw the first punch, Allison said, and Southeast never recovered.
"They just came out more aggressive," said Allison, Southeast's junior college transfer point guard. "They hit us first before we could hit them."
ASU controlled things throughout and rolled to a 73-49 win in Southeast's first regular-season home game under coach Dickey Nutt.
It was not the type of Show Me Center debut Nutt was looking for against the university where he spent more than 20 years, including 13 as head coach before being dismissed late during the 2007-08 season.
"First of all, I want to thank our crowd," said Nutt of the announced 3,214 fans in attendance. "It was a great night for basketball until it got started."
ASU (2-0) scored the first four points and led 12-2 nine minutes into the game.
Southeast (0-2) briefly pulled within eight points twice but the Red Wolves held at least a 10-point lead for the final 29 minutes.
"We're disappointed," said Nutt, who inherited a program that went 3-27 last year and lost its final 19 games. "We didn't think we played anywhere near what we're capable, but it's absolutely a work in progress.
"I believe in these guys. I believe one day the sun will shine on this basketball team. Hopefully sooner rather than later."
Nutt gave ASU, which led 43-21 at halftime, plenty of credit for Southeast's struggles.
"They're a big, strong basketball team. They handed it to us tonight," Nutt said.
The Redhawks, after shooting 27.5 percent from the field during Saturday's season-opening 59-41 loss at Saint Louis University, were only a bit better Wednesday with a 31.5 percent clip.
But Nutt thought Southeast more effectively executed its offense against ASU.
"I think we were better. We just didn't shoot the ball," Nutt said. "I don't think they took us out of our offense. We just have to make shots."
Said Allison: "Tonight we ran our stuff most of the time. But our shots wouldn't go down. We executed a lot better than the other night."
ASU shot 44.4 percent, including 52 percent in the decisive first half. The Red Wolves outrebounded Southeast 41-32.
Freshman guard Brandon Reed led the Red Wolves with 17 points as he started in place of senior Donald Boone, their leading scorer last year who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Monday's opener.
"For our team to absorb the loss of our best player ... our team impressed me tonight with how they handled that," ASU coach John Brady said. "I thought we played really solid defensively the first half."
Allison was the Redhawks' lone double-figure scorer with 10 points.
Freshman guard Derek Thompson, who earned his first start, had nine of Southeast's 21 first-half points but did not score in the second half.
Junior college transfer forward Cameron Butler paced Southeast rebounders with eight.
"They gave us the first lick," Butler said.
Down 43-21 at halftime, Southeast made a brief flurry early in the final period with a 12-4 run capped by senior forward LaMont Russell's three-point play that pulled the Redhawks to 47-33.
But Southeast got no closer as ASU regained control.
"We just need to continue to work," Russell said.
ASU shot 43 free throws compared to 23 for Southeast. The Red Wolves went to the line 28 times in the second half compared to 13 for Southeast.
"We were playing with our hands instead of our feet," Allison said of why ASU attempted so many foul shots.
Southeast extended the nation's longest losing streak to 21 in a row, but Brady said he believes the Redhawks' cause is not hopeless.
"I do think Southeast Missouri's team is going to be fine," he said. "I think they were really physical. They played really hard."
The Redhawks, who had just 12 turnovers, return to action Sunday at Northern Illinois.
* Junior college transfer forward Eric McCrary did not dress Wednesday due to the flu.
* Junior forward Jajuan Maxwell played just nine minutes as he was limited by a sore knee.
* Junior college transfer forward Rae-Vonn Banks saw his first action after finally having his eligibility cleared by the NCAA.