By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Missouri Southern wraps up a four-game road swing tonight with a game against the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys.
Tipoff is at 6 at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville.
The Lions (3-3) have dropped their first three road contests. They had mixed reviews while going 0-2 in a classic last weekend, losing 57-55 at the buzzer to No. 20 West Texas A&M before dropping an 81-61 verdict to Eastern New Mexico.
The Lions did not trail against West Texas A&M until the last 44 seconds.
“We really played well (against West Texas A&M), probably should have won the game but didn’t,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “We didn’t show up (against Eastern New Mexico), and that was disappointing. Every time you have an opportunity, you want to compete as hard as you can. In basketball you’re only guaranteed 26 opportunities (during the regular season) and you hate to waste any of them.”
The Lions have changed their starting lineup during the road trip. Sophomore guard Morgan Smith will make his third consecutive start tonight, and sophomore forward Stephen Atkinson will make his first start.
“Morgan has done a nice job of running down loose balls and a nice job of going to the offensive glass and keeping possessions alive,” Corn said. “Stephen has been playing pretty good in the games (including season highs of 12 points and six rebounds against Eastern New Mexico).”
Junior guard Marquis Addison (16.7 scoring average), junior forward Jordan Talbert (13.8 plus 7.2 rebounds) and sophomore point guard R.J. Leverette (4.8 plus 4.0 assists) complete the Lions’ probable lineup.
Arkansas Tech (2-2) overcame a 12-point deficit in the final 13 minutes to beat Southern Nazarene 72-67 in its last start.
Hometown product Jared Williamson, 6-foot-1 senior guard, leads the Wonder Boys’ balanced attack at 10.3 points per game. Will Paul, 6-10 senior center, adds 9.8 points.
“They are like us a little bit, been a little inconsistent,” Corn said. “It will be a tough battle. They have a lot of players back from last year’s NCAA Tournament team. They are big and strong. They haven’t shot the ball particularly well but they are a much better shooting team than they’ve shown so far. You have to be sound defensively on the road to have a chance to win.”
The Wonder Boys are coached by Doug Karleskint, the brother of former MSSU offensive coordinator Matt Karleskint.
Missouri Southern leads the series 15-7 but is 1-4 in Russellville. The Wonder Boys won the last meeting 78-63 in the 2004 West Texas A&M Classic.