The East Central University men’s basketball team will travel to Arkansas for a key Great American Conference game with Southern Arkansas at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Watson Athletic Center. The Tigers and the Muleriders are currently tied for the last spot that will make the GAC Tournament in March.
ECU’s radio home for Tigers basketball in 2012-13 is Ada’s KXFC, 105.5, FM "The X-Factor." Kenny Morrison returns to broadcast the games for his 15th consecutive season. Morrison, a 1987 ECU graduate, spent two seasons doing color prior to taking over the play-by-play duties during the 1997-98 season.
Fans who can’t be at the game can find links to live stats, live video (if available) and the KXFC radio broadcast on ECUTigers.com. Go to the men’s basketball schedule page.
Scouting Southern Arkansas
The Muleriders are 8-11 overall and 4-9 in the GAC after winning their last two games. SAU is 7-3 when playing at home this season.
The Muleriders have a +3.8 scoring and +8.0 rebounding margin on the season, despite the losing record. SAU is making 41.7 percent of its overall shots and allowing the opposition to hit at a .408 mark, while the Muleriders have attempted 200 more shots on the season.
SAU has one player who is averaging 10+ points on the season and two more who are above nine points per game. Nigel Jones is the team’s leader with 10.6 points per outing and 6.5 rebounds per game. Jones is shooting .509 from the floor and .450 from beyond the arc. Chris Davis is next with 9.8 points and 4.7 boards per game. Darrin Johnson is the other player near 10 points per game, with 9.7.
Against the Muleriders
In the first meeting of the season, the Tigers claimed a 61-55 win at the Kerr Activities Center. Free throws were the key to the win, as both teams made the same number of shots. ECU was 13-of-23 from the charity stripe, while SAU went 9-of-22.
Junior Colby Carr led the Tigers with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Fellow junior Jason Williams added a second double-double, with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Nigel Jones led the Muleriders, with 14 points and six boards.
The Tigers currently own a 9-4 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1968-69. ECU has won the last two games in the series, but SAU took the last game in Magnolia (54-60).
For the last two games, the Tigers have used strong three-point shooting to mount comebacks. In the game against Harding, ECU went 11-of-21 from beyond the arc (52.4 percent). The Tigers shot just 37.5 percent from three-point range (3-of-8) in the first half and then exploded for an 8-of-13 mark (61.5 percent) in the second half.
Against Ouachita Baptist, ECU again hit just three triples in the first half but went 3-of-6. The Tigers then added an 8-of-13 mark (61.5 percent) in the second half to finish 11-of-19 (57.9 percent) for the game.
Making it Rain
Junior Miles Mitchell made the most of his night against Southeastern (Jan. 24), sinking 5-of-9 shots from beyond the arc for a season-best 15 points. The five triples tied a season high for the most triples by an ECU player in a single game.
Carr’s Career Night
While Carr has been a consistent scorer for the Tigers, he added to his career totals against Southern Nazarene (Jan. 17). The New Orleans native tallied a career-high 31 points on 10 field goals and eight free throws. Carr is the first ECU player to score 30+ points in a single game since Jan. 4, 2010, when Eric Allen scored 31 at Southwestern Christian.
For the first time in the 2012-13 season, two players tallied double-doubles in the same game for the Tigers against Southern Arkansas (Jan. 5). Carr tallied his fourth, and third straight, with a career-best 19 points and 12 rebounds. Junior Jason Williams tallied his first of the season, with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Tigers have seen very consistent play from Carr. Through 10 games, he tallied double digits in the scoring column and shot over 40 percent from the field. In the last three games, Carr also recorded double-doubles.
Reeves Getting Into the Game
Freshman Braxton Reeves had a strong outing against Arkansas-Monticello. The Fort Worth, Texas, native tallied a career-best 12 points on 4-of-9 three-point shooting.
After having a career night against Harding and performing well in the next few games, freshman Marquis Walters earned his first career start against Newman and made an immediate impact in the game. The Ardmore native set career highs of points (19), rebounds (6), assists (5), steals (2), field goals (5) and free throws (7).
ECU is making strong progress this season after finishing 5-21 in 2011-12. So far in 2012-13, the Tigers are 7-12 overall, two wins over last year’s total. ECU also finished the non-conference season 3-3 overall, compared to 3-7 in 2011-12. The win over Newman also tied the road wins from last season (1).
Carr’s Career Numbers
Carr had a career day for the Tigers against Langston, recording his first career double-double. He tallied career highs of 15 points and 11 rebounds for the second double-double of the season for an ECU player.
Williams Wins Honors
Williams led the Tigers in both games at the Taco Bell Texans Tip-Off Classic and was rewarded with All-Tournament honors. He tallied 22 points and 12 boards while shooting .700 (7-of-10) from the field and .615 (8-of-13) from the charity stripe in the two-game tournament.
Ardister Doubling Down
Junior Gregory Ardister made an immediate impact in his first game for the Tigers, earning a double-double on 10 points and 10 rebounds in the 73-54 win over St. Gregory’s (Nov. 10). The double-double was the first for an ECU player since Jan. 21, 2012, when Darnell Davis tallied 15 points and 11 rebounds at Arkansas-Monticello. In 2011-12, the Tigers recorded just six double-doubles as a team.
New Season/New Beginning
After a 2011-12 season where ECU finished 5-21 overall and 2-14 in GAC play, the 2012-13 season is a season of new beginnings. The head coach is familiar, but the student-athletes on the court have a new look, as the Tigers return one player from 2011-12 and have 15 new players on the court.
Second-year head coach Mac McConnell is looking to turn the program around and get it back to winning. Only this season, he had the opportunity to pick his own players and is able to mold the group into his style of play.
The Tigers will remain on the road for a game at Arkansas-Monticello (Feb. 9). ECU will then return home for the final three home games of the season Feb. 14-21, starting with a 5:30 p.m. battle with Southwestern Oklahoma State on Thursday, Feb. 14, in the Pinkout/Date Night game.