On The Road Again: Wonder Boys Visit Eagles

It would be easy to be fooled by Lambuth University’s 2-4 overall record or by Arkansas Tech’s 22-point win over the Eagles earlier this season. But make no mistake about it — Lambuth is a different team at home, and it has proven that it can compete when a Gulf South Conference member comes to town.  The Wonder Boys (5-2) will face Lambuth at Pepper Bray Court in Jackson, Tenn., at 4 p.m. Saturday. The game will be broadcast by radio station KWKK 100.9 FM.

Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcast. The Wonder Boys rolled past Lambuth 87-65 on Nov. 20. Tech forced the Eagles into 26 turnovers and shot 53 percent from the field in the second half on its way to victory. That was at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville. This Saturday’s game is at Pepper Bray Court, a place where the Eagles are 49-12 over the past five seasons.

It’s a place where Lambuth handed previously undefeated Southern Arkansas a 79-69 loss on Nov. 29.

Arkansas-Monticello was red hot from 3-point range (11-of-24, 46 percent) and still barely escaped Pepper Bray Court with an 81-77 victory over the Eagles on Nov. 27.

All of it is proof enough for Tech head coach Doug Karleskint that his team will have its work cut out for it on Saturday.

“It’s a tough place to play,” said Karleskint of Pepper Bray Court. “It’s an older gym a lot like what we saw at West Alabama. Coach (Kevin) Burton has had a stretch where he hasn’t lost very many games there. I think Coach Burton does a great job and they have some pieces that cause us some problems match-up wise.” Two of those pieces are Lambuth forwards Devance Harris and Shaun Merriweather.

Harris averaged 18 points and 10.5 rebounds per game and was a combined 18-of-23 (78 percent) from the field against UAM and SAU. Merriweather notched 16.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest in those two outings.

“Merriweather can hurt you inside and outside,” said Karleskint. “We need to limit the touches that he has, especially around the perimeter. And with Harris, it seems like he really found himself against us and he’s been playing really well since then. Harris is a beast in the paint, so it’s important for us to limit his touches in the low post.” The Wonder Boys are led in scoring by junior guard Johnie Davis (14.4 points per game), sophomore guard Jared Williamson (12.2 points per game) and senior forward James Causey (10.8 points per game).

Senior guard Willie Sanders has increased his production as of late. He averaged just 4.3 points in Tech’s first four games of the season, but his scoring average in the Wonder Boys’ last three games has been 16 points per game.

Saturday will mark the first time since the 2008-09 season that Arkansas Tech has played a men’s basketball game as an unranked team. The Wonder Boys’ string of 18 consecutive weeks in the National Association of Basketball Coaches NCAA Division II top 25 poll came to an end this week.

“I think our team will like the idea of being the underdog some nights,” said Karleskint. “Maybe that’s what our team needs to get some of that hunger back. We need to go in every night with the attitude that we have to fight and scrap like we did last year so that we can reach the goals we need to reach.”