Arkansas Tech University is back in the regional semifinal round of the men's basketball NCAA Division II Tournament for a fourth consecutive year. Now the Wonder Boys want a breakthrough win and a berth in the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time ever.
Nationally 15th-ranked Arkansas Tech (25-5) will face nationally ninth-ranked Tarleton State (27-5) at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 11, in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Division II Tournament South Central Regional at D.L. Ligon Coliseum in Wichita Falls, Texas.
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.
The winner will advance to the region championship game at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13. The loser will see its season come to an end.
The Wonder Boys have experienced more than their fair share of regional semifinal heartbreak over the past three seasons.
It began in the 2009 NCAA Division II Tournament when Tech's Thiago Cordeiro made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer (click here to watch YouTube clip) to force overtime, but Florida Southern ultimately defeated the Wonder Boys 95-92.
One year later, Arkansas Tech was ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division II but a red-hot Valdosta State team eliminated the Wonder Boys 72-60 in the 2010 NCAA Division II Tournament regional semifinals. The Blazers shot 61 percent from the field in the second half on their way to an upset win over Arkansas Tech.
The Wonder Boys faced overtime in a regional semifinal for the second time in three years in 2011, and once again the home team came out on top. Alabama-Huntsville made 8-of-11 free throws in the extra period to defeat Arkansas Tech 74-71 in last year's NCAA Division II Tournament regional semifinal round.
Head coach Doug Karleskint and the Wonder Boys hope that the fourth time will be the charm on Sunday evening.
"I know, myself, I've been thinking about that loss to Huntsville ever since last March," said Karleskint. "It's been burning me, and I know it's been burning our returning players too. We just needed to make one play at the end of the game and we didn't do it. We've talked about that. The guys are hungry and playing with a chip on their shoulder."
Tarleton State was regular season co-champion of the Lone Star Conference. The Texans are in the NCAA Division II Tournament for the ninth time in the last 11 years. They were NCAA Division II South Central Region champions in 2005 and 2006.
Defense is the cornerstone of the program built by Tarleton State head coach Lonn Reisman and his son and associate head coach Chris Reisman.
The Texans rank first in NCAA Division II in scoring defense (56.2 points allowed per game) and fourth in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.380).
"Very rarely do you see a team with all five guys in a defensive stance, but Tarleton State does that," said Arkansas Tech head coach Doug Karleskint. "They are always talking and they see man and ball. You think about the fundamentals of defense, and all five of their guys do it. It's really impressive how good their team defense is. They make you hit shots."
Tarleton State is led by All-NCAA Division II South Central Region performer Fabian Wilson (13.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game).
Arkansas Tech's top scorers include all-region selection Johnie Davis (20.0 points per game), All-Great American Conference selection Jared Williamson (12.3 points per game), Will Paul (10.2 points per game) and Matt Haney (10.0 points per game).
Sunday's match-up will mark the first-ever men's basketball meeting between Arkansas Tech and Tarleton State. The Wonder Boys advanced to the second round with a 79-68 win over West Texas A&M. The Texans made it to the regional semifinals with a 69-52 victory over Missouri Southern.
Click here to read more about Arkansas Tech's opening round win.
Click here to visit the home page for the NCAA Division II Tournament South Central Regional.
Click here to learn more about Wonder Boys basketball.]]>