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Indians' win against UW-Milwaukee was a mental lift, coach says
NEW ORLEANS -- Gary Garner was worried he might need to help pick up his team for its second game of the University Hoops Classic.
Instead, Garner has a different problem -- one he doesn't mind at all.
After upsetting Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a pre-tournament favorite, 89-75 Thursday, Southeast Missouri State University will try to come back down to earth against Indiana State at 5 p.m. today.
"Believe me, I'd much rather have it this way," Garner said, laughing, following Thursday's victory. "Psychology plays such a big part in basketball, and all sports really.
"If we had lost, we would have been down and I would have really been worried about us having to try and bounce back. With Indiana State playing their first game in the tournament against us, they would have had a big advantage psychologically. Now we've just got to make sure we don't get to feeling too good about ourselves."
Southeast (2-1) and Indiana State (1-1) are coming off dismal seasons that saw each go 6-22.
And like the Indians, the Sycamores appear to be an emerging mid-major program before tumbling last year. Two seasons ago, Indiana State was 22-12 and upset Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
"They're a lot like us in that they were going really good, then they really struggled last year," Garner said. "And like us, they're trying to get it turned around again."
Indiana State won its season opener 63-56 over Youngstown State, but the Sycamores got hammered by Valparaiso 81-56 Tuesday night.
The Sycamores graduated their two leading scorers from last year and their top returning player, point guard Lamar Grimes, suffered a knee injury during preseason practice. He will miss at least the first three weeks of the campaign.
So the Sycamores definitely appear to be a team the Indians are capable of defeating, especially after Thursday's performance, but considering what happened last year, Garner knows Southeast won't be overconfident.
"It's a game we feel like we have a good chance to win, but I'm sure Indiana State is looking at us the same way," Garner said. "Beating Wisconsin-Milwaukee was big, but it won't mean nearly as much if we don't beat Indiana State."
A win over the Sycamores will put Southeast in Sunday's championship game of the six-team tournament.
"Getting to the finals, and at least winning two games in this tournament, would be really big for us," Garner said. "If we beat Indiana State, we've done that, so it's really an important game."
Added senior forward Tim Scheer, "There's no reason we can't win the tournament."
Golson has a setback
Garner hoped that junior forward Reggie Golson would be able to see his first action of the season in the tournament, but now that doesn't appear likely.
Golson, who only recently began practicing after having arthroscopic knee surgery, tweaked the knee in practice Tuesday. He made the trip to New Orleans and has been in uniform, but probably won't play this week.
"We had hoped to work Reggie into some games here, but now we probably won't," Garner said. "We don't think he did anything serious to the knee so hopefully Reggie will begin playing soon."
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