From the moment the preseason Great American Conference men’s basketball poll was released, it was evident that Arkansas Tech University and Southeastern Oklahoma State University might be on a collision course this season.
The Wonder Boys were No. 2 in that poll. The Savage Storm was No. 1.
Arkansas Tech defeated Southeastern Oklahoma State 73-69 at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Jan. 6. As a result, the Wonder Boys (14-4 overall, 10-2 GAC) are in sole possession of first place in the league standings. The Savage Storm (13-7, 9-3) is in solo second, one game off the pace.
On Thursday, Feb. 1, Arkansas Tech will pay a return visit to Bloomer Sullivan Arena in Durant, Okla., for its final regular season meeting with Southeastern Oklahoma State.
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. with coverage on KCJC 102.3 FM, www.arkansastechsports.com and the EAB Media Group app immediately following the 5:30 p.m. ATU-SOSU women’s game.
“We’re going to get their best shot, and they’re really good,” said Mark Downey, ATU head men’s basketball coach, when asked about Southeastern Oklahoma State. “We’ll have to tie our shoes a little tighter and fasten our belts a little tighter. We’ll be ready to play. It will be a fun atmosphere, I’m sure.”
The Savage Storm’s trademark is its ability to counter attack after a made basket. It is one of the reasons Southeastern Oklahoma State leads the GAC in scoring offense (86 points per game). Arkansas Tech is No. 1 in the GAC in scoring defense (65.2 points allowed per game).
“We really defended them great when we got to set our defense up, but when we scored they got that thing out of there,” said Downey. “I bet you they hit six or seven 3s in transition off our makes. We’ve got to do a really good job of getting back. We’ll have something figured out.”
Both Arkansas Tech basketball teams will have to perform well away from home during February in order to achieve their goals.
Beginning with Thursday’s doubleheader at Southeastern Oklahoma State, seven of ATU’s final 10 regular season doubleheaders will be on the road.
Dave Wilbers, ATU head women’s basketball coach, believes the Golden Suns (9-7, 6-6) are up to the challenge.
“The girls are a focused group,” said Wilbers. “They come in every day and approach it as a new day. This team has played about the same at home and on the road. We haven’t had any letdowns throughout the year. Every game is tough. Everybody in this league has players and good coaching. I expect us to play well on the road.”
This week’s road trip to Oklahoma will conclude with a 1 and 3 p.m. doubleheader at East Central University on Saturday, Feb. 3. Live coverage of those games will also be available on KCJC 102.3 FM, www.arkansastechsports.com and the EAB Media Group app.
Talk to you on the radio.
Tech Tidbits is a column written by Sam Strasner, ATU director of university relations and radio play-by-play voice for ATU football and basketball.