Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team concludes exhibitions with win

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Southeast Missouri State's Nino Johnson takes a shot as Truman State's Mike Carlson looks on during the first half of an exhibition game Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at the Show Me Center. (Fred Lynch)

The Southeast men defeated Truman State 80-75

The Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team's second exhibition game was much like its opener.

The Redhawks found themselves in another dogfight against Division II Truman State and once again pulled out a win.

Southeast managed to pull away with less than two minutes remaining to knock off the visiting Bulldogs 80-75 Monday night in front of an announced Show Me Center crowd of 1,480.

"I will say I credit Truman State for a job well done," Southeast coach Dickey Nutt said. "They are really well coached. They shot the 3. I thought it was a very lackadaisical game in a lot of parts on our part."

Sophomore forward Nino Johnson led all scorers with 20 points and added a game-high 15 rebounds.

Johnson's partner in the paint, all-Ohio Valley Conference performer last year and preseason all-OVC selection this year, junior forward Tyler Stone, added 17 points and 12 rebounds.

"I thought our front line played well," Nutt said. "Nino and Tyler gave us some really quality minutes, two double-doubles from those guys."

Southeast needed every bit of the big performances from their low-post men. The Redhawks guards struggled mightily from outside in the first half, with A.J. Jones the exception.

Jones, a junior college transfer, had 13 points -- 11 in the opening half.

"A.J.'s still feeling himself around a little bit right now," Nutt said. "A.J.'s really talented, he can get to the basket, he can handle the ball, and defensively he's probably our stronger guard right now. But right now he's not playing with that confidence we need him to play with. The first half was a little bit better, the second half not as good."

Southeast jumped out to a 8-2 lead behind six points from Johnson and two from Stone before settling into an offensive funk.

Truman State rode the hot outside shooting of 6-foot-4 guard Isaac Gardner, who buried four treys in the first half to keep the Bulldogs close.

Southeast led 32-21 coming out of a timeout with less than four minutes left in the half, but the Bulldogs buried four consecutive 3-pointers to stay close.

"Every time we made a run and pushed it to 11-12 points, we could not sustain that," Nutt said. "They'd cut it to five and cut it to two, and the next thing you know we're in for a dogfight."

Jones picked up a foul right before half that Truman State converted into two free throws to make it 36-35, but the junior guard raced down the court and banked in a 30-footer at the buzzer.

Johnson, Stone and Jones combined for 32 of the Redhawks' 39 points in the first half.

Junior Lucas Nutt and senior Marland Smith, the other two starting guards, combined for zero points on 0-of-3 shooting in the opening 40 minutes.

"I thought our perimeter guys were very average," Dickey Nutt said.

Nutt and Smith picked up their play in the second half, along with a strong performance from senior guard Nick Niemczyk off the bench.

"I thought Nick came in and gave us a boost off the bench," said Dickey Nutt bout Niemczyk, who finished with 10 points. "He hit some key shots out there."

The three guards combined for 25 second-half points, with Niemczyk leading the way with seven.

The offensive help was much appreciated from Stone and Johnson.

"Those guys are really good guards," Stone said. "I credit them a lot. Coach was just like, if we catch it on the post, just slow down and look for them, and they knocked down some shots."

Stone and Johnson played 37 and 35 minutes respectably.

"Those guys got to play," Nutt said. "They got to be in that kind of condition."

Former De Soto standout Colin Ferguson made the most of his six minutes, scoring four points on 2-of-2 shooting.

"I thought Colin came in and gave us some good moments," Nutt said. "He's the guy that tries to do everything you ask him to do. The textbook high-low type stuff was really good tonight. He did some good things, rebounded the ball a little bit. We got to have somebody come in and help us and help those two big guys."

Southeast started to pull away to begin the second half, going up 51-41 on a Johnson layup.

Truman State cut it to 51-49 on a basket by Mike Carlson.

The Redhawks again pushed the lead to 58-51 only to see the Bulldogs rally to make it 61-59.

"I credit Truman State a lot," Stone said. "Out of everything, they ran their stuff until the end of the game. It's tough to beat teams like those. They never gave up."

Truman State cut it 67-65 on a basket by Marek Bush with 4:22 remaining, but Southeast ultimately closed it out.

The dagger came in the form of a Nutt 3-pointer.

Stone received a pass on the left baseline with just over a minute to play and found a wide open Nutt on a cross-court pass.

Nutt buried the trey to make it 72-65.

The Redhawks shut down Gardner in the second half, limiting him to one shot and only two points on free throws.

"Marland had an exceptional second half," Nutt said. "I thought he did a super job on [Gardner]. I thought he really used his quickness and athleticism to really stay on him and get to his man and make sure every shot was contested."

Southeast also made it a miserable night for the Bulldogs' leading scorer from last season, Seth Jackson.

Jackson, the reigning MIAA freshman of the year, was held to six points on 2-of-15 shooting.

Carlson led the Bulldogs in scoring with 15, followed by Gardner with 14.

The win wrapped up the exhibition season for the Redhawks.

They open the regular season Friday at Kansas.

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