Basketball Bisons host Henderson State to open GSC play

SEARCY - The Harding Bisons open Gulf South Conference play at home against Henderson State on Saturday. The Bisons are 3-6 in nine previous GSC openers, including a 76-71 loss at Henderson State last season.

COACHES: Harding is coached by Jeff Morgan, who is in his 18th season as a head coach and 17th season as head coach of the Bisons. Morgan has a 297-196 career record and a 280-186 record at Harding.

Sam Weaver is in his fourth season as head coach at Henderson State and has a 38-60 record with the Reddies. He is in his 10th season as a collegiate coach and has a 89-174 record.

THE BISONS: Harding is 5-1 at home this season and 28-6 at home over the last three seasons.

Harding has two players currently leading the Gulf South Conference in a statistical category. Junior Stephen Blake is the conference's leading free throw shooter at 91.9 percent. He has made 22 consecutive free throws. Senior Trent Morgan leads the GSC with 2.17 steals per game.

Harding ranks second in the GSC in free throw percentage at 71.8 percent. The Bisons have connected on 70 percent or better in eight of their last nine games and have made 110-of-142 (77.5%) in their last five games.

In Harding's seven victories this season, the Bisons have made 42.1 percent of their three-pointers (53-of-126). In its five losses, Harding has made 23.4 percent (22-of-94).

Harding's Jeff Morgan is in his 18th season as a head coach and is just three wins short of 300 in his career.

Senior Trent Morgan had one steal vs. Shepherd Film Academy and moved into the GSC career top 10 in steals with 158. He needs two steals to pass former teammate Steven Barnett for third in Harding history and ninth in GSC history.

Nine different players have started at least one game for the Bisons this season. The last time that many players started during the season was 2005-06 when 10 different players made starts during the season.

THE REDDIES: Henderson State is a member of the GSC West Division and is located in Arkadelphia, Ark. (pop. 10,548).

Henderson State is the top shooting team in the GSC, connecting on 47.8 percent of their shots. The Reddies are also ranked first in the conference and fifth in NCAA D2, shooting 44.9 percent from three-point range. Ironically, only 25.9% of Henderson State's shots are three-pointers, the lowest percentage in the GSC.

The Reddies are led by junior Lance Smith, a transfer whose last collegiate action came in the fall of 2007 at Lambuth. Smith is a 6-foot-8 forward from Memphis and is averaging 19.0 points and a Division II-leading 13.2 rebounds per game. Smith also leads the GSC in blocks and field goal percentage.

Henderson State is 13th of 14 teams in the GSC in scoring defense, allowing 76.7 points per game. The Reddies are last among GSC schools in three-point field goal defense, allowing opponents to shoot 38.4 percent from long range.

THE SERIES: Harding and Henderson State are meeting for the 104th time since the Bisons reinstated basketball in 1957. Henderson State holds a 71-32 series lead overall and an 11-7 lead in GSC games. Harding has won the last two meetings in Searcy.

by Scott Goode

Harding Sports Information