By playing offense from the inside-out, the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys are turning their position in the Great American Conference basketball standings right-side up.
The Wonder Boys (11-6 overall, 9-2 GAC) have shot greater than 50 percent from the field in back-to-back games, and they put a season-high 87 points on the board in a 12-point victory over Harding University on Monday. ATU’s men have won three consecutive games and 11 of their last 13.
“Paint touches is what we’re all about,” said Mark Downey, ATU head men’s basketball coach. “In the second half (against Ouachita Baptist on Saturday), 89 percent of our shots were paint touches and we shot 75 percent from the field. That’s it. If we don’t get paint touches, we don’t score. We’ve been talking about our identity…playing fast and with pace, but also being patient and getting good shots.”
That increased efficiency and productivity, paired with the high-caliber defense Arkansas Tech has played almost every game this season, is making the Wonder Boys a contender for their first GAC basketball regular season title since 2013-14. ATU is tied for second place and just one game out of first place in the GAC men’s basketball standings halfway through the league schedule.
The Arkansas Tech Golden Suns (9-6, 7-4) remain tied for third place in the GAC women’s basketball standings, but slow starts to the third quarter have become a problematic trend in the eyes of head coach Dave Wilbers.
Harding opened the second half on a 12-0 run Monday to erase ATU’s 35-33 halftime advantage. The Lady Bisons went on to defeat the Golden Suns 72-52.
“I’ve seen it four games in a row now,” said Wilbers. “We work hard, get a lead and come out after halftime and we don’t play hard enough. A good team is going to take it right at us to start the third quarter. That’s the scouting report on us right now.”
Arkansas Tech will make its longest road trip of the GAC schedule this week, visiting Southwestern Oklahoma State for games at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. in Weatherford on Thursday, Jan. 26, before traveling to Northwestern Oklahoma State for a 1 and 3 p.m. doubleheader in Alva on Saturday, Jan. 28.
Live coverage of all four games will be available on KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com.
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.