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Wonder Boys Return to Action at DSU

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Thursday night was disappointing for the men’s basketball teams at Arkansas Tech and Delta State, but the Wonder Boys’ brand of disappointment was a lot easier to handle. Arkansas Tech’s home game against Southern Arkansas was postponed until Feb. 5 due to inclement weather, while Delta State dropped a 54-50 decision at Henderson State. The well-rested Wonder Boys (12-3 overall, 3-0 Gulf South Conference) and the DSU Statesmen (8-9, 2-2) will meet at Walter Sillers Coliseum in Cleveland, Miss., for a 6 p.m. contest on Saturday, Jan. 22. Radio station KWKK 100.9 FM will broadcast the game in the Arkansas River Valley.

Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcast. Arkansas Tech’s men have not played since defeating Arkansas-Monticello 85-82 last Saturday. It was the Wonder Boys’ sixth consecutive win and it kept them tied with nationally 22nd-ranked Harding (13-2, 3-0) for first place in the GSC West Division. “From a positive standpoint, the postponement gave us an extra day to prepare for Delta State,” said Arkansas Tech head coach Doug Karleskint. “It’s always disappointing when you get geared up for a game and then it doesn’t happen, but it gave us some time to heal some nagging injuries.” Delta State was picked to finish second in the GSC West this season. The Statesmen won their first two league games, but consecutive losses to Harding and Henderson State have dropped their overall record below the .500 mark. The Statesmen’s loss on Thursday marked the first GSC win of the season for Henderson State, which is 5-41 in league play since the start of the 2007-08 campaign. Senior guard Arian Maliqi has been Delta State’s most consistent performer in GSC play. Maliqi scored 20 points at Henderson State on Thursday and has averaged 14.3 points per contest in league action. “(Maliqi) can hurt you inside and outside,” said Karleskint. “They put him in positions to be successful by setting a lot of ball screens with him. He’s done a nice job hitting the 3-ball and stretching the defense.” Two of the Statesmen’s top players have been in and out of the line-up throughout the season. Senior guard and Mississippi State transfer Phil Turner leads Delta State in scoring (16.0 points per game), but he has missed four games this year. Turner scored 25 points at Harding last Saturday and then did not play at Henderson State on Thursday.

DSU senior forward and West Florida transfer Ken Mitchell (11.2 points per game) has missed five games this year, including the last three in a row.

Inconsistency in the line-up has surely been detrimental for Delta State, but the Statesmen’s biggest issue has been their play on defense.

Delta State ranks 13th in the GSC and 242nd in NCAA Division II in scoring defense (78.8 points allowed per game).

On the flip side, Arkansas Tech ranks second in the GSC and 22nd in NCAA Division II in scoring offense (83.9 points per game).

“Our 3-point attempts have gone down and our free throw attempts have gone up because we have stopped settling for shots and we’ve started attacking the rim,” said Karleskint. “We want to get 3-point tries in our offense, shoot in rhythm and have people in position to rebound.”