Patience pays off for King during key stretch

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Demetrius King credits better shot selection and increased confidence for the best offensive stretch of his Southeast Missouri State University basketball career.

He hopes the shots keep falling tonight when the Indians (4-5) take on Southwest Missouri State (3-4) in a 7 p.m. tipoff at the Show Me Center.

"I'm being more patient and I'm getting a lot of open looks," King said following Friday's practice. "Confidence plays a big part in it. I've been shooting better in practice and that helps. The shots are there and I have to step up and hit them."

King, a 6-foot-4 senior guard/forward, has come off the bench to provide the Indians a major offensive spark in the past few weeks. He has scored in double figures in four straight games, twice matching his career high of 17 points.

During that four-game stretch, King has averaged 13.5 points while shooting 53.3 percent from the field (16 of 30) and 64.2 percent from 3-point range (9 of 14). For the season, King averages 8.3 points and is shooting a team-best 45 percent on 3-pointers (9 of 20) despite missing his first six 3-point attempts of the year.

"Demetrius has really given us a lift offensively," Southeast coach Gary Garner said. "He's one of our better athletes and he can get good shots if he's patient. We just need him to be more consistent and lately he has been."

As is the case with many junior-college players, King had an up-and-down rookie season with the Indians last year after transferring from Okaloosa-Walton Community College in his home state of Florida. He averaged seven points and two rebounds for Southeast as a junior.

"A little experience helps," King said, smiling. "I have a better feel for the game this year and know more what to expect."

King, who has also pulled down nearly five rebounds per game in the last four outings, received two starts early in the season and he'll be in the starting lineup tonight for the injury-riddled Indians, who will likely be without guards Brett Hale (back) and Kevin Roberts (foot).

"Everybody's just got to step it up while we're shorthanded," King said.

For King, regardless of whether he's starting or coming off the bench, playing basketball for the Indians has been more than worthwhile.

"It's been a great experience for me here," he said. "It was a dream to play Division I basketball and I'm glad I had the opportunity to do it."

Bears an in-state test

Garner expects SMS to pose plenty of problems for the Indians tonight.

"They've got good talent and they're a good basketball team," Garner said. "We know we'll have to play extremely well."

The Bears should have plenty of momentum after rallying for a 72-65 overtime victory over visiting Arkansas State Wednesday night to snap a two-game losing streak. It was the Bears' third overtime game of the season.

Earlier this year, SMS won at St. Louis in overtime and lost at Kent State in overtime. Kent State made last year's Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. The Bears have also beaten Samford while losing to North Texas, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and nationally ranked Tulsa.

Terrance McGee, a 6-foot senior guard, leads the Bears offensively with 17 points per game. Also averaging in double figures are 6-7 junior center Montwell Randle and 6-7 junior forward Shelton Colwell, both at 13.1 points per game. Colwell, who was recruited by Southeast, is shooting 61.9 percent from the field.

"Their two inside guys, Randle and Colwell, are really good athletes who can score, rebound and block shots," Garner said. "And McGee is very good."

With Roberts, who is not likely to play because of foot injury, being the Indians' best ballhandler against the press, Garner expects to see plenty of pressure tonight.

"They watch tape like we do," Garner said. "I'm sure they'll press us a lot. How we handle it will be important."

mmishow@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 132

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