Coming off an upset win over previously unbeaten Southern Arkansas in their most-recent game played, the Arkansas Tech men's basketball team figures to have fresh legs for their rematch game against Henderson State on Thursday evening as it will have been a week since their last action on the court.
The week in-between games was a result of a cancellation of their game at Ouachita this past Saturday due to COVID-19 protocols within the Tiger program.
In that win against SAU, the Wonder Boys turned in a gritty effort all-around, but particularly on the defensive end. Coming into the game, the Muleriders were the top team in the GAC in terms of field goal percentage, knocking down shots at a clip of 49%. Against the Wonder Boys, however, the Muleriders struggled offensively and shot just 34% overall from the floor. Additionally, the Muleriders were among the top scoring teams in the GAC at 74.3 ppg entering the game, but the Wonder Boys held them 15 points below that average.
On the offensive end, the Wonder Boys were also the beneficiary of a quick start as they opened on a 10-0 run through the first four minutes. Leading the entire game, the largest Tech lead peaked at 22 points. SAU would not go quietly and eventually pulled the score difference to single digits by the final horn.
The game on Thursday night at Henderson is the second of four scheduled regular season contests with the Reddies. The first meeting was a 70-44 win for Henderson State back on January 9. In that game, the Reddies took the lead at the 13:13 mark of the first half and did not look back. After trailing by double-digits within a minute of the second half, the Wonder Boys were able to get as close as five points minutes later, but the Reddies eventually pulled away for the comfortable victory.
The Wonder Boys enter play tonight with a 3-2 record and a 1-2 mark in the GAC. As a team, the Wonder Boys are averaging 68.2 ppg and rank 10th in the GAC. On the defensive end of the court, the Wonder Boys rank fourth in the league in scoring defense, giving up an average of 67.8 ppg. In terms of field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense, the Wonder Boys are 10th in the conference as they are shooting at an overall clip of .410 (116-of-283) and are limiting opponents to a .399 mark (117-of- 293) to rank second.
Individually, the Wonder Boys have three players averaging double figures in scoring. Senior Tony Hall leads the way at 11.2 ppg. True freshman Cejay Mann is next in scoring at 10.4 ppg. Senior Ke'Lyn Adams rounds out double figure scoring at 10.2 ppg.
The Wonder Boys are coached by Mark Downey, who is in his first season back on the sidelines at Tech after a 10-year hiatus. Previously, Downey patrolled the sidelines at Tech for four seasons. In his final season, Downey guided the Wonder Boys to a program-record 30 wins and during the course of that season, the Wonder Boys were ranked No. 1 in NCAA DII for the first time ever.
In his time at Tech, which is now in its fifth season, Downey has amassed an 80-45 record. Overall, Downey is in his 14th season as a head coach and has career record of 246-151.
SCOUTING THE REDDIES
Henderson State enters their game against the Wonder Boys 1-3 overall and 1-3 in the GAC. The lone win thus far on the season for the Reddies was a 70-44 triumph over the Wonder Boys back on January 9 in Russellville. The Reddies are also on a two-game losing skid with losses to Harding and UAM.
In their most-recent game against the Boll Weevils, the Reddies found themselves down early in the first half and trailed by as much as 15 points before closing out the half with a 10-point deficit. The Reddies tried to mount a comeback early in the second half and cut the deficit as low as six points on several occasions, but UAM would remain in control the rest of the way out and eventually closed with an 87-74 win.
Statistically, the Reddies are averaging 75.0 ppg on offense to rank sixth in the GAC and are giving up an average of 75.8 ppg to rank seventh in the GAC. In terms of field goal percentages, HSU is shooting at .422 clip overall (103-of-244) to rank seventh and are allowing opponents to shot at a mark of .435 (103-of-237) to rank eighth.
Individually, the Reddies have four players scoring in double figures and are led by Malik Riddle at 13.3 ppg. Next behind Riddle is Quawn Marshall at 13.0 ppg. Raekwon Rogers and Jeremiah Toney round out double-figure scoring at 12.8 ppg for Rogers and 12.3 ppg for Toney, respectively.
The Reddies are coached by Jimmy Elgas, who is in his sixth season at HSU. In his time as a head coach at Henderson, Elgas has amassed an 82-69 record. Last season, Elgas led the Reddies to the GAC Tournament Championship giving the program their first championship of any kind since 2007-08.