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WBB-D2: Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys (14-12) at Henderson State Reddies (12-14)

When Arkansas Tech visits Arkadelphia on Thursday, February 23, Henderson State will get ready for one last ride inside the Duke Wells Center this season. The game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

Henderson State has improved its chances of making the 2023 GAC Tournament by winning four of its last five games. HSU is 9-11 in conference play with just two games remaining in the regular season, is the seven seed and has a one-game advantage over Southwestern Oklahoma State and Ouachita Baptist. The tiebreaker is currently held by the Reddies over SWOSU and OUA. The red-and-grays would be guaranteed a spot in the postseason tournament for the fifth year in a row with either a win on Thursday or a loss to Southern Arkansas by Ouachita Baptist.

A Senior Night triumph would likewise stamp the fourth sequential year Henderson has dominated twofold digit meeting matches in a season with a full record of association games (2020 highlighted exclusively in-state GAC contest). With the exception of two years, HSU head coach Jimmy Elgas has won 10 or more league games in each of his eight seasons there.

In three of its previous four victories, Henderson has scored at least 82 points. Prior to that, HSU had not scored 82 points since the visit of Lyon College to the area on January 2. With a scoring average of 71.3 points per game, the Reddies now hold opponents to 71.5 points per game, which ranks sixth in the league. With 37.4 combined team rebounds and 26.3 defensive boards per game, Henderson is also the league’s best rebounding team.

The Wonder Boys won the Arkadelphia matchup between HSU and Arkansas Tech by a score of 84-78 in overtime. However, prior to that, the Reddies had not defeated ATU at the Duke Wells Center since February 18, 2017. The in-state teams will meet for the 175th time on Thursday, with Henderson having won the series 91-83.

Arkansas Tech is the only team in the last five years to have qualified for the 2023 GAC Tournament. With a victory on Thursday, the 12-8 Wonder Boys could win the conference for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign. After reaching the conference semifinals that year, ATU received an at-large bid to the NCAA Central Regional.

With Arkansas Tech just one game behind Southern Arkansas and Southeastern Oklahoma St. and the Wonder Boys having split the head-to-head series with Southeastern and beating Southern Nazarene earlier in the year, ATU holds the quality-of-win tiebreaker over SE, the league’s current four seed could still play its way into the two seed. Tech would face Southern Arkansas in the series finale, where the winner would receive the No. 1 seed, with a win on Thursday and a loss to the Savage Storm in either of their final two games. 2 seed.

Arkansas Tech’s defense is tied for third in the conference, limiting opponents to 66.4 points per game while its offense is 11th in the league, allowing just 66.8 points per game. Taelon Peter, a sophomore guard, is the Wonder Boys’ primary scoring threat, averaging 14.7 points per game, which ranks 11th in the GAC. With 1.8 steals per game, Peter also ranks third in the conference.

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