Southeast men play their final home game Thursday
Southeast Missouri State University
Southeast Missouri State (7-22, 3-13, Ohio Valley Conference) is about to finish a gruesome season under fifth-year coach Rick Ray.
For the fourth time in Ray's tenure, SEMO will miss the OVC playoffs, at which eight of the top 12 league teams contend for the tournament crown.
Thursday the Redhawk men play their final home game of the 2019-20 season as they host Eastern Illinois (14-14, 7-9).
On Senior Night, Southeast will fete its two seniors, 6-foot-8 forward Quatarrius Wilson from Mobile, Alabama and 6-foot-5 guard Skyler Hogan of Melbourne, Florida.
“It will be sad not to see these guys in SEMO uniforms anymore,” Ray told KGIR Radio.
Hoping for better vs. EIU
Ray’s 14-member squad hopes for a measure of revenge against EIU, to whom the Redhawks lost on January 25 in Charleston, Illinois.
“We did a good job defensively against (the Panthers) last time out,” said Ray, in recalling the 61-59 defeat, the seventh SEMO loss by five points or less in this difficult campaign.
“EIU is really a hot team,” added Ray, who will be reunited with former Redhawk Dondre Duffus, who now suits up for the visitors.
Trying to finish over .500 at home
The Redhawks are on a two-game losing streak.
Ray saw the fault lines for his young team in both defeats.
“Against Jacksonville State,” Ray said, “we sent them to the foul line way too much,” as the Gamecocks converted 20-of-27 charity stripe opportunities.
“(JSU) also outscored us 17-3 on second chance points,” in the 65-58 loss on February 20.
In the more recent Tennessee Tech game, Ray was equally forthright.
“We had unbelievable looks (against TTU),” he said, “and we just didn’t knock down shots.
“We’ve (also) got to get stops down the stretch.”
The Golden Eagles scored on its final eight possessions to seal the 71-62 win on Saturday.
Ray was succinct when asked what it’s going to take for Southeast, 6-6 at the Show Me Center this season, to grab a win in the final game before a home crowd.
“We need game-winning possessions at the end,” Ray offered.
Ray singled out his 6-foot-8 sophomore Sage Tolbert for particular praise.
“(Sage) may be the best defender in the OVC.”