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Muleriders, Wonder Boys Meet on Saturday

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Every college basketball team in America has been practicing for three-and-a-half months.

Countless conditioning sessions and hours in the weight room have taken their toll. Watching film until their eyes glaze over and spending what feels like days on buses and vans means one thing for coaches and student-athletes alike --- the grind has set in. Nationally 15th-ranked Arkansas Tech (16-3 overall, 7-0 Gulf South Conference) will try to break through the early February wall and keep pushing toward a second consecutive regular season league title when the Wonder Boys host Southern Arkansas on Saturday, Feb. 5. Tip-off at Tucker Coliseum is set for 6 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door. Those with a valid Tech identification card will be admitted free. “I gave our guys off Sunday and Monday because of the grind,” said Arkansas Tech head coach Doug Karleskint. “Basketball season is a long season. Whoever is playing well at the right time is going to be successful. We just need to keep on doing what we do --- be relentless and attack. Hopefully we’ll come ready to go on Saturday.” The Wonder Boys have won 10 consecutive games and are in sole possession of first place in the GSC West Division. Tech improved to 20-1 in its last 21 conference games by defeating Henderson State 81-56 on Thursday. Southern Arkansas (9-10, 1-6) is coming off its third consecutive loss, but none of the Muleriders’ 10 losses this season have been more heartbreaking that the 67-66 setback they suffered at home against Delta State on Thursday. Delta State’s Arian Maliqi made a layup with 2.1 seconds left to put the Statesmen in front, and Chase Spruiell’s mid-court heave for Southern Arkansas at the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim and fell to the floor. Despite their recent troubles, the Muleriders will arrive in Russellville with the knowledge they can go on the road and beat a ranked team. SAU went to then fourth-ranked Alabama-Huntsville and beat the Chargers 49-46 on Jan. 2. Since then, the Muleriders have lost seven of eight games. They need a win on Saturday to avoid the bottom of the GSC West Division standings. Arkansas Tech has won its last six men’s basketball meetings with Southern Arkansas. Tech leads the all-time series 92-66, including a 56-21 edge in games played at Russellville. Russellville radio station KWKK 100.9 FM will broadcast Saturday’s contest. There will be live audio and live video feeds from the game available at www.athletics.atu.edu.

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