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- Local lawmakers split over failed medical marijuana bill; voters may have a say (04/26/16)19
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Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team visits UMKC before beginning OVC action
The Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team has one final opportunity to build momentum before opening its Ohio Valley Conference schedule.
Southeast (7-6) plays at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (4-7) Saturday in a 12:05 p.m. tipoff.
"It's a big game for us," Southeast coach Dickey Nutt said. "Getting a win would be great for the confidence of our team."
The Redhawks pushed back above the .500 mark Wednesday, beating visiting New Orleans 94-71 for their second victory of the season over the Privateers.
Southeast would love to take a two-game winning streak into its Dec. 29 OVC opener at home against Tennessee-Martin. That contest starts a run of three consecutive home games to begin the Redhawks' OVC schedule.
A victory Saturday would give the Redhawks a winning record entering OVC play for the first time under Nutt in his four seasons at Southeast.
"We really need this one," junior point guard Lucas Nutt said. "That would be huge, going into conference with a winning record for the first time."
While UMKC's record is not impressive, four of the Kangaroos' losses have been to major programs.
The Kangaroos were thrashed at seventh-ranked Ohio State 91-45, at fifth-ranked Louisville 99-47 and at Seton Hall 75-36.
But UMKC is coming off a solid showing during Wednesday's 76-61 home loss to Iowa State that saw the Kangaroos lead 39-35 early in the second half.
UMKC's wins have come against Division II Lincoln, Norfolk State, IUPUI and North Dakota. The Kangaroos already have played two Summit League games, going 1-1.
"They're a good team. Everybody's good at home," Dickey Nutt said. "We have to make sure we keep our focus."
The Kangaroos graduated leading scorer Reggie Chamberlain from a year ago but returned their other four starters.
Estan Tyler, a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard, leads UMKC offensively with an average of 10.4 points per game. He is shooting a sizzling 52.8 percent from 3-point range (19 of 36).
Thomas Staton, a 6-6 senior forward, is averaging 9.4 points.
UMKC went just 10-21 overall and 4-14 in the Summit League last season, but one of its nonconference wins came at Southeast 74-69.
The Redhawks led only twice all game, by one point in the first half and for a total of less than one minute.
Southeast trailed 41-28 at halftime and by 16 points in the second half before a rally fell short. The Kangaroos burned the Redhawks from long range, hitting 13 of 21 3-pointers.
UMKC also defeated Southeast during the 2010-11 season in Kansas City.
"We haven't beaten them since I've been here," Dickey Nutt said. "But we're certainly going in with a little bit of confidence."