Bears Hope to Continue Early League Momentum at Evansville on Wednesday
Forward - Keith Pickens
Forward - Keith Pickens

Jan. 1, 2013  |  MSU Game Notes (PDF)

Missouri State Bears (3-10, 1-0) at Evansville (7-6, 0-1)

Jan. 2, 2013, Ford Center (11,000), Evansville, Ind., 7:05 p.m.

The Ten Count

  • Marcus Marshall (Fr., St. Paul, Minn.) is averaging 12.0 points over the last four games, all starts.
  • In this week's NCAA rankings, the Bears rank 13th in turnovers per game (10.9), 26th in turnover margin (+3.8) and 44th in 3-point FG percentage defense (.290).
  • Nathan Scheer (Jr., G/F, Washington, Mo.) is coming off a career-high 15-point outburst against SIU with 5 treys.
  • MSU's freshmen have now produced 45.1 percent of the team's points, while its underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) now account for 63.5 percent of the team's points and 67.4 percent of the team's individual rebounds.
  • Evansville's Troy Taylor is coming off a triple double at Creighton, just the seventh in the nation this season.
  • No MSU opposing team has made more than eight 3-pointers in a game this season.
  • Missouri State has committed fewer turnovers than 11 of its 13 opponents this season and has had the same or fewer turnovers than 28 of its last 33 foes, dating back to last season.
  • Anthony Downing (Sr., Atchison, Kan.) averaged 14.3 points in three games against Evansville last season.
  • MSU (.541) was the only team to shoot greater than 50 percent from the field in the first weekend of Valley action.
  • Second-year MSU head coach Paul Lusk (19-26) is gunning for his 20th victory at Missouri State. Evansville is one of just three Valley teams (with Wichita State and Illinois State) Lusk did not defeat in his first MVC season..

Setting the Stage

  After snapping an eight-game losing streak in their Missouri Valley Conference opener on Sunday against Southern Illinois, the Bears look to build on that confidence with the start of a two-game league road swing at Evansville (Jan. 2) and Drake (Jan. 5).
 With just 23 turnovers in their last three games (7.7), MSU improved to 13th nationally this week in mishaps per game (10.9). The Bears have also been red-hot from the field after firing at a season-best .541 (20-for-37) clip against the Salukis and making 20-of-23 (.870) free throws in the MVC opener.  Likewise, the Bears matched a season high with 10 treys against SIU, knocking down 10-of-17 (.588) from long range, including a 5-for-5 performance from beyond the arc by Nathan Scheer (Jr., G/F, Washington, Mo.).
 Anthony Downing (Sr., G, Atchison, Kan.) has also been hot of late, firing a game-high 16 points in the SIU game on the heels of a 17-point effort at New Mexico State. Marcus Marshall (Fr., G, St. Paul, Minn.) has scored in double figures in three of four games and is averaging 12.0 points per game in that span.

Head Coach Paul Lusk

Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 19-26 (.422) in his second season at MSU and 21-49 (.300) in his third season overall as a head coach.  He is 10-9 in the MVC (5-5 at home, 5-4 on the road), 9-16 in non-conference play (6-6 at JQH Arena, 3-6 away and 0-5 at neutral sites). Overall, he is 11-11 in home games, 8-10 on the road, and 0-5 at neutral sites. He is 0-3 aginst Evansville.
 The 41-year-old Lusk took the reins as MSU's 17th head coach on April 1, 2011. He came to Springfield after seven seasons at Purdue (2004-11), including his last three as associate head coach there.  Now in his 15th season in the coaching profession, Lusk has previous assistant coaching stops at Southwestern Illinois (1996-97), Missouri Southern (1999-2002) and Southern Illinois (2003-04) in addition to a one-year head coaching stint at (Div. III) Dubuque (2002-03). Lusk has played or coached in 10 NCAA Tournaments.
 He returns five lettermen and six squad members from a 16-16 club that tied for third place in the Missouri Valley standings a year ago. His Bears were picked sixth in last year's preseason MVC poll, but finished three spots higher, earning him MVC Coach of the Year.

The Series

  Missouri State leads the all-time series with the Purple Aces, 30-26, a rivalry that dates back to the 1959 NCAA Division II national championship game at Roberts Stadium (in Evansville).
 The Purple Aces have won four straight games in the series, including three wins over the Bears last season, including two in overtime.
 Missouri State is 9-16 all-time at Evansville, including a 75-70 loss in its only previous trip to the Ford Center (Feb. 25, 2012). In the 2011-12 regular-season finale, Jarmar Gulley scored a career-high 20 points, and Anthony Downing scored 17 for MSU, which snagged a season-high 50 rebounds. But a desperation 3-pointer by Denver Holmes as time expired in regulation gave UE new life in the eventual OT decision.

The Opponent

   Evansville head coach Marty Simmons (Evansville, 1987) is 74-94 in his sixth season at UE and 172-167 in his 12th season overall.  He has 11 lettermen and 3 starters back from a 16-16 club that tied for third place in the Valley last season, including All-MVC guard Colt Ryan (Sr., Batesville, Ind.). Ryan averages a team-best 14.7 points with 41 assists, while Ned Cox (Sr., San Antonio, Texas) scores 10.7 points, and newcomer D.J. Balentine (Fr., Kokomo, Ind.) has hit a team-high 25 3-pointers.
 Evansville ranks 14th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4), 20th in turnover margin (+4.3), 27th in turnovers (11.5) and 36th in assists (16.1).  Individually, Colt Ryan is 25th nationally in FT Pct. (89.7) and is also nationally ranked in scoring (14.7), assists (3.7), steals (1.73) and assist-to-turnover (2.16).



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