The preseason favorites to win the 2010-11 Gulf South Conference men’s basketball divisional titles will clash at John E. Tucker Coliseum in Russellville tonight (Thursday, Dec. 16).
Arkansas Tech (6-2), the pick to win the GSC West, will host nationally sixth-ranked Alabama-Huntsville (9-1), the choice to win the GSC East, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door. Those with a valid Tech identification card will be admitted free. It is a rematch of the two programs that met for the 2010 GSC Tournament championship on March 7 in Southaven, Miss. Arkansas Tech won the game and its second consecutive GSC Tournament title with a 64-63 victory. Marcus Pillow hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 11.8 seconds remaining, and Irvin Humphrey preserved the victory with a blocked shot at the buzzer (photographed). But Pillow and Humphrey, along with fellow 2009-10 Arkansas Tech seniors Brandon Friedel, Renard Allen and Dexter Hendrix, have all moved on. Last year, the Wonder Boys were the veteran team with the lofty national ranking. As Tech and UAH get set to meet for the first time this season, that shoe is worn by the Chargers. Seven of the eight Alabama-Huntsville players who saw significant minutes in the 2010 GSC Tournament championship game are back this season. The Chargers’ leading scorers are sophomore guard Jaime Smith and sophomore forward Zane Campbell, both of whom average 13.8 points per game. But the most valuable member of the Alabama-Huntsville team might be junior point guard Josh Magette. He averages 12.4 points per contest, leads the GSC and ranks third in NCAA Division II in assists (8.4 per game) and shoots 56 percent from the field. Magette’s 4.2-to-1 turnover-to-assist ratio is second-best in the Gulf South Conference. The only player with a better ratio is Arkansas Tech senior point guard Laithe Massey. He ranks fourth in the nation with a 4.4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Heber Springs product is coming off his best game of the 2010-11 season. Massey scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds and made nine assists in an 85-78 win at Lambuth University on Saturday.
Regardless of what happens on Thursday night, the Wonder Boys will not have much time to ponder the outcome. Arkansas Tech will turn around and host another GSC East Division member --- the University of North Alabama Lions --- at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 17, at Tucker Coliseum.
Russellville radio station KWKK 100.9 FM will broadcast the games. Live video and live audio will be available at www.athletics.atu.edu.]]>