Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team snaps three-game skid against SIUE

Friday, February 8, 2013
Southeast Missouri State's Nino Johnson goes in for a shot against SIU Edwardsville in the first half Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 at the Show Me Center. (Laura Simon)

Marland Smith got his record and Nino Johnson got back on track.

More importantly for the Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team, the Redhawks got back in the win column.

"That was the main thing, getting that win," Smith said.

Southeast snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the second time in its last nine games, beating SIU Edwardsville 76-67 to avenge a recent road defeat.

"It's been about us these last several games we lost," Johnson said. "We basically gave every team confidence. Now it's about getting back what we deserve."

An announced Show Me Center crowd of 2,212 Thursday night saw the Redhawks improve to 12-13 overall and 4-7 in Ohio Valley Conference play. SIUE fell to 8-12 and 4-6.

The Redhawks are in a two-way tie for seventh place among OVC squads eligible for the conference tournament, trailing sixth-place SIUE by one-half game. The top eight finishers qualify.

"The guys really played well tonight. Any time you lose a bunch of games like we have in the last couple of weeks it's easy to doubt yourselves," Southeast coach Dickey Nutt said. "I was really proud of the way we played. We played unselfishly, we played with heart."

Smith broke Southeast's career record for 3-point field goals by hitting 3 of 4 from beyond the arc on his way to 13 points.

Smith has 220 3-pointers in his four-year Southeast career, surpassing the 219 Derek Winans made from 2001 through 2005. The senior guard's record-breaker came with a little more than seven minutes left in the game.

"I wanted to go ahead and get it out of the way," Smith said. "It's a great accomplishment. Like I said earlier, it was one of my goals when I came here."

Nino Johnson, who started the season strong but has been scuffling lately, led Southeast with 17 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high seven blocks.

Johnson had scored just 13 points in his last three games, and he attempted just one field goal during Southeast's most recent game at home against Eastern Kentucky.

The sophomore forward, who came off the bench for the second straight game Thursday, recorded his team-high seventh double-double of the season but first in the last 10 games.

"It was just a focus thing," said Johnson, who hit 8 of 9 shots. "Also, the practices carrying over. ... what coach always preaches."

Nutt emphasized that he wants to see Johnson perform with more consistency, but he sure liked what Johnson delivered against the Cougars.

"Nino was very good," Nutt said. "He knows he's been in my doghouse for the last seven to 10 days. I loved the way he played tonight. He was really a force."

Also scoring in double figures for Southeast were junior forward Tyler Stone with 12 points and junior guard A.J. Jones with 11 points. Jones added seven rebounds.

Stone blocked two shots as Southeast recorded a season-high 10 blocks.

Junior point guard Lucas Nutt dished out six assists and added eight points. Senior guard Corey Wilford also had eight points.

Southeast got a lift off the bench from freshman guard Jared White, who made his presence felt on both ends of the court while playing a season-high 23 minutes.

White scored seven points, the second-highest total of his rookie campaign. He was second behind Nutt with four assists.

"I thought he played some really good minutes tonight," Dickey Nutt said. "He has that mentality. ... You talk about running through a wall, that's what he can do."

The Redhawks withstood a career-high 31 points from senior forward Jerome Jones, SIUE's leading scorer at more than 15 points per game. Jones hit 11 of 21 shots, including 6 of 10 3-pointers.

"He was a special player tonight," Nutt said.

Jones was on fire early, scoring 19 points as the Cougars built a 23-13 lead barely eight minutes into the game.

But Jones picked up his second foul a short time later and spent several minutes on the bench.

Southeast surged during that period and used a 20-3 run to go ahead 33-26. The Redhawks led the rest of the way.

It was 41-32 at halftime. SIUE cut the deficit to 44-42 early in the second half, but Southeast used a 13-0 burst to open the night's biggest advantage at 57-42. The margin never dipped under nine points after that.

"Defense was the main thing," Johnson said after SIUE shot 38.5 percent.

Southeast shot 46.4 percent and outrebounded the Cougars 42-35 in avenging an 80-77 loss at SIUE on Jan. 24.

"We had a chip on our shoulder. We feel like we gave that game away," Smith said.

The Redhawks will have a chance to avenge another recent road loss when they conclude a three-game homestand Saturday at 5:30 p.m. against Eastern Illinois (7-17, 4-7).

The Redhawks lost to the Panthers 78-72 in overtime on Jan. 26 in Charleston, Ill. The teams are tied for seventh place in the OVC.

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