Final Tune-Ups Before GSC Play for Tech

Arkansas Tech’s basketball teams will complete their preparation for Gulf South Conference West Division play with one last out of league test on Monday, Jan 3. The nationally fifth-ranked Golden Suns (10-1) will face the St. Edward’s Hilltoppers (7-6) at 6 p.m. in Austin, Texas. The game can be heard live on KVLD 99.3 FM and over the Internet at The Wonder Boys (8-3) will host the Northeastern State RiverHawks (5-6) for a 7 p.m. contest at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville. Tickets will be available at the gate and those with a valid Tech identification card will be admitted free. The men’s game will be broadcast by KWKK 100.9 FM and streamed over the Internet at League play will begin for both Arkansas Tech basketball teams on Saturday, Jan. 8, with a GSC West Division doubleheader at Henderson State. Tech was picked to sweep the 2010-11 GSC West Division basketball titles in a preseason poll of league head coaches. This will be the Golden Suns’ and the Wonder Boys’ final tour of the GSC West. Next season, Arkansas Tech will be part of the new NCAA Division II Great American Conference. So far, the Golden Suns and the Wonder Boys have performed at a level consistent with the high expectations placed upon them. Arkansas Tech’s women have won six consecutive games, including a 75-63 victory over nationally 22nd-ranked West Texas A&M on Wednesday. Also part of that six-game winning streak was an 80-57 triumph on Dec. 4 over St. Edward’s, which will receive a return visit from the Golden Suns on Monday. The Suns used a 13-0 second-half run to pull away for a 23-point victory over the Hilltoppers, but Tech head coach Dave Wilbers knows that the rematch will present a different set of challenges. “It’s going to be tough down there,” said Wilbers. “(St.Edward’s) gave us some problems early in the first game, but we made some adjustments with our defense and kind of controlled the game after that. Our team has always stepped up after Christmas. We always take a trip like this that gets us away from campus and helps us grow as a team. We need a tough road game going into conference, so I like the way our schedule is set up.”

The Tech men have suffered non-conference losses to nationally fourth-ranked Alabama-Huntsville and Drury University, two teams that have a combined record of 20-2 this season. The Wonder Boys’ only other setback came on a tip-in in the final 10 seconds at West Georgia. Arkansas Tech has already earned in-region wins over peer NCAA Division II men’s opponents West Alabama and North Alabama. Monday provides the Wonder Boys with another opportunity to pick up a valuable in-region victory. Northeastern State owns an impressive 82-80 overtime victory over GSC West Division member Harding University (10-2), but that game was played on the RiverHawks’ home floor in Tahlequah, Okla. NSU is just 1-5 away from Jack Dobbins Field House this season. “Another coach told me that (Northeastern State) has been a little bit of a Jekyll and Hyde team this season,” said Arkansas Tech head coach Doug Karleskint. “Coach (Larry) Gipson does such a great job over there. We saw them last year, and we were lucky to get out of Tahlequah with a win. They are going to screen us to death and run a really tight motion offense. We’ve got to get better defensively.”