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Redhawks breeze through final exhibition test
The Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team was not about to get carried away with an exhibition game against an overmatched opponent.
But the Redhawks liked what they saw during Tuesday night's 109-69 rout of Henderson State in front of an announced crowd of 1,115 at the Show Me Center.
"We played hard on defense," senior guard Anthony Allison said. "We tried to get a good lead. After that we got rolling."
Southeast emerged unscathed from its two-game exhibition schedule, including Saturday's 80-71 win over Ouachita Baptist, a Division II program from Arkadelphia, Ark., like Henderson State.
Southeast coach Dickey Nutt came away feeling much better about the Redhawks' final exhibition.
"I was very proud of our guys tonight," Nutt said. "I thought we played a lot better, with a lot more consistency.
"We got a lot of good plays by different people. We had a lot of good hustle plays, guys diving after loose balls. And I really appreciate our fans. A Tuesday night, late night, a 40-point lead, very few left."
The Redhawks weren't threatened in their exhibition opener against Ouachita Baptist, but Nutt didn't like their 26 turnovers and their sloppy play after building a 26-point second-half lead.
Southeast only had 14 turnovers against Henderson State and never let the Reddies back into the contest after building a 55-36 halftime advantage. The biggest margin was 44 points.
"I thought it went good. We played hard, but we also hit a lot of shots," redshirt freshman point guard Lucas Nutt said. "It was a good practice game."
Southeast, which dominated inside, shot 50 percent from the field (37 of 74) and allowed just 30 percent (21 of 70).
"We played defense better than we did the other night," junior forward Leon Powell said. "All we preach is defense. Our offense is good enough, but if we don't play defense, it'll be a long day."
Nutt liked Southeast's solid assist-to-turnover ratio. The Redhawks handed out 25 assists, eight by his son Lucas against two turnovers.
"That's a good sign, almost two to one," Nutt said of having 11 more assists than turnovers. "He [Lucas] sees the floor so well."
Powell, who missed all of last season with a knee injury after transferring from junior college, had another big performance with 24 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
Powell hit 10 of 14 shots, mostly from in close. He made 15 of 17 -- also mainly from in close -- for 36 points against Ouachita Baptist.
While satisfied with the health of his knee and his play so far, Powell knows it will be much harder to dominate inside during the season.
"It'll definitely get tougher starting Saturday," Powell said of Southeast's opener at Alabama-Birmingham. "I'll be going against bigger and stronger guys."
Junior guard Nick Niemczyk scored 19 points to go along with four assists and three steals.
It still has not been decided whether Niemczyk, a Bell City High School graduate who transferred from Three Rivers Community College, will redshirt this season after having surgery to repair a torn ACL in April.
"I thought Nick was outstanding," Nutt said. "The sky's the limit for him. We just have to make some decisions on his knee."
Niemczyk appeared fairly fit Tuesday and he even managed to inject some humor into the situation after hitting three late 3-pointers. They came after he missed his first five attempts from long range.
"It's doing a little bit better now that I hit some 3-pointers," he said of the knee.
Turning serious, Niemczyk said: "Coach said we'll talk later this week and make a decision."
Also scoring in double figures were Allison with 17 points, sophomore guard Marland Smith with 16 and senior forward Cameron Butler with 13. Butler also had five assists. Allison hit 5 of 11 3-pointers.
Zach House, a 7-foot junior college transfer center, grabbed 11 rebounds after pulling down 12 in the exhibition opener.
"We wanted to make sure we did what we were supposed to do with exhibition games," Nutt said.
Now the Redhawks will focus their attention on Saturday's first game that actually will count. UAB is paying the Southeast athletic department $90,000 for the visit.
UAB went 25-9 last year and reached the NIT quarterfinals. The Blazers are 70-32 over the past three seasons.
"We know it's a terrific challenge for us, but we look forward to it," Nutt said.