SEARCY - The Harding Bisons play their first Gulf South Conference road game of the season Thursday at Southern Arkansas and are looking to go 2-0 in GSC action for the third time in its 10 seasons in the conference.
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 298-196 career record and a 281-186 record at Harding.
Eric Bozeman is in his sixth season as head coach at Southern Arkansas and has a 45-76 record. He is 116-143 in his 10th season as a collegiate head coach.
THE BISONS: Harding also opened 2-0 in 2003-04 and 2007-08. The Bisons made the GSC Tournament both seasons. In 2003-04, Harding opened a program-best 4-0.
Harding has two players currently leading the GSC in a statistical category. Junior Stephen Blake is the conference's leading free throw shooter at 89.7 percent. Senior Trent Morgan leads the GSC with 2.15 steals per game.
Harding ranks second in the GSC in free throw percentage at 72.5 percent. The Bisons have connected on 70 percent or better in each of their last six games, hitting 130-of-167 (77.8%).
In Harding's eight victories this season, the Bisons have made 41.2 percent of their three-pointers (61-of-148). 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 two wins short of 300 in his career.
Harding is coming off a 53-point victory over Shepherd Film Academy and a 40-point win over Henderson State. It was the first time in Harding basketball history that the Bisons have won consecutive games by 40 points or more.
In its last two games, Harding has won by a combined 93 points. The keys to those games have been free throws and rebounds. Harding has outscored its opponents 38-14 at the free throw line and have outrebounded their opponents 93-47.
THE MULERIDERS: Southern Arkansas is a member of the GSC West Division and is located in Magnolia, Ark. (pop. 10,478). The Muleriders were picked to finish sixth in the GSC Preseason Coaches Poll.
Southern Arkansas has the sixth-ranked defense in the GSC and 49th in NCAA Division II, allowing only 64.9 points per game. The Muleriders are also sixth in the GSC in steals with 8.2 per game.
Justin Stuart, a junior from nearby Hope, Ark., leads SAU in scoring (12.7 ppg) and rebounding (4.6 rpg). Channin Harden is seventh in the GSC in free throw shooting (76.1), Sanchez Dade is ninth in blocks (1.0) and Tony James is 10th in assist/turnover ratio (1.34).
Southern Arkansas is last in the GSC and 244th of 270 NCAA Division II schools in scoring offense at 63.1 points per game. The Muleriders connect on only 5.1 three-pointers per game, the lowest figure in the conference.
THE SERIES: Harding and Southern Arkansas are meeting for the 107th time with SAU leading the all-time series 67-39. The Muleriders lead 40-12 in Magnolia, but six of Harding's dozen road wins have come since 2003. Harding has won 12 of the last 14 overall and five of the last seven in Magnolia.