Bears Improve to 2-0 in MVC Play With 72-61 Win Over Drake

Dec. 31, 2011

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SPRINGFIELD -- Missouri State (9-5, 2-0) shot a season-best 60.4 percent from the field and got 22 points from a red-hot Kyle Weems here Saturday afternoon to turn back Drake, 72-61, in Missouri Valley Conference play.

It was a league-best eighth straight conference win for the Bears who also got 14 points from Jarmar Gulley and 11 from Anthony Downing. Weems, who scored 31 points in Wednesday's win at No. 19 Creighton, was 10-for-12 from the field with a game-high 9 rebounds.

Drake (8-5, 1-1) got 16 points from Rayvonte Rice, who set the pace early with 14 points in the first half.

MSU turned its five-point halftime lead into a 41-32 advantage just three-and-a-half minutes into the second half. With 16:32 left in the game, a jumper by Downing in transition created a nine-point lead and some breathing room for the Bears.  The visitors continued to scrap, and crept back within one point of the lead three more times midway through the second stanza. However, after the under-12-minute media timeout,  MSU used a 17-4 run during a seven-minute stretch to pull away for good.

Gulley scored seven points during that run, while Keith Pickens provided key defense and three-points to make it 64-50 with 3:40 to go.  Downing and Michael Bizoukas made clutch free throws down the stretch, and the Bears improved to 20-1 all-time at home against Drake.

Pickens finished with 7 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals to go with a team-high 3 assists for MSU, which was 29-for-48 (.604) from the field. Coach Paul Lusk's team shot an impressive 15-for-23 (.652) in the second half to make the difference. The Bears were also an efficient 5-for-8 (.625) from beyond the arc, a season high, but missed eight free throws in the second half to finish 9-for-17 (.529) for the game.  MSU also out-rebounded the Bulldogs by a 32-23 margin, and both sides committed just eight turnovers.

Drake finished 23-for-50 (.460) from the field and 4-of-11 (.364) from bonus distance. Like the Bears, the Bulldogs struggled at the charity stripe with an 11-for-21 (.524) afternoon.

Ben Simons added 14 points for the Bulldogs, while Jordan Clarke tallied 10 points and a team-high six rebounds for the visitors.

In the first half, Weems scored 14 points to help the Bears build a 34-29 advantage. MSU fell behind 16-8 in the first six-and-a-half minutes before reserve Corey Copeland got things going for the home club. Copeland knocked down a three-pointer to cut the Bears' deficit to five before making it a 16-13 game on a spin move to the basket on the next MSU possession.

Weems tied the game at the 5:14 mark on a short jumper to make it a 22-22 game. When the Bears later fell behind 25-24, Weems reeled off five unanswered points to build a 29-25 lead for Missouri State. The Topeka, Kan., native then upped the MSU advantage to seven points on his second trey of the half at the 1:17 mark.

Drake then tacked on a jumper by Kurt Alexander just before the intermission to make it a 34-29 game.

Missouri State continues league play Wednesday (Jan. 4) at 7:05 p.m. against Illinois State. The Redbirds are 9-3 overall and 1-0 in the league headed into their Sunday showdown at Southern Illinois.  

Tickets for the MSU-ISU game are on sale now at Starting Monday at 10 a.m., tickets are also available by phone at (417) 836-7678 or by visiting the Chevy Pickup Window at JQH Arena.



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