MSU vs. Evansville, Sunday at 2:05 p.m., JQH Arena
Jan. 14, 2012
Missouri State Bears (11-7, 4-2) vs. Evansville Purple Aces (7-9, 2-4)
Sun., Jan. 15, 2012, 2:05 p.m. (Central)
JQH Arena, Springfield, Mo. I Game Notes (PDF) I Tickets
Series: MSU leads 30-23 (Bears are 17-6 in Springfield)
Ticket Special: $7 Tickets with ticket stub from Bass Pro Tournament of Champions. (Kids 12 and Under Are Always Free)
Radio: KTXR (101.3 FM) and MSU Bears Radio Network (LISTEN LIVE)
Live Stats: Game Tracker I Watch Live: Bears All-Access
GameDay Gear I MSU Game Notes I MVC Notes I MSU Season Stats I MSU MVC-Only Stats
Pushed out of first place for just the eighth day over the last two seasons, the Missouri State Bears return to JQH Arena on Sunday afternoon (2:05 p.m.) to take on the Evansville Purple Aces in a pivotal Missouri Valley Conference tilt. The contest brings to a close a busy three-game week for all 10 teams in The Valley.
As has almost become customary against Northern Iowa, a controversial call in the deciding seconds decided MSU’s fate on Friday night in a 61-60 loss in Cedar Falls. Caleb Patterson (Sr., C, Ames, Okla.) posted a career-high 24 points on a near-perfect shooting night, making good on 7-of-8 shots, including 3-of-3 from long distance, plus a 7-for-7 day at the line. Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) added 16 points for MSU, but was called for a marginal offensive foul in the deciding moments to give the Panthers a chance to steal the victory. It was the fourth straight one-point game in the series between the Bears and Panthers.
Evansville has experienced similar fortune of late, dropping four straight league contests, including three games determined by one or two points. The Aces fell 69-60 at home against Drake on Friday as Ryan Sawvell (Fr., F, Mundelin, Ill.) posted a team-high 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting with 6 rebounds. Denver Holmes (Sr., G/F, Olathe, Kan.) added 12 points and 6 assists for UE.
COACH Paul Lusk:
Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 11-7 in his first season at MSU and 13-30 in two years overall. He is 4-2 in MVC play (2-1 at home, 2-1 on the road), 6-2 at JQH Arena, 5-3 on the road, and 0-2 at neutral sites. This is his first game against Evansville as a head coach.
Lusk took the reigns as MSU’s 17th head coach on April 1, 2011. He came to Springfield after seven seasons at Purdue (2004-11), including the last three as associate head coach. Now in his 14th 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 coached in six of the last eight NCAA Tournaments after playing in three NCAA Tourneys as a player at SIU.
THE TEN COUNT:
Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) is coming off his 100th consecutive start -- the fifth-longest active streak in Division I. His 97 career double-digit scoring affairs are now tied for first on Missouri State’s career list with Daryel Garrison (1971-75). He is second among active Division I players for career double-figure scoring games behind IUPUI’s Alex Young (98) and has 17 straight. He also ranks No. 8 on the MSU career scoring list (1,657), just 20 points behind Blake Ahearn (1,677 points from 2003-07) for the No. 7 spot.
The Purple Aces entered the weekend ranked 13th nationally in free throw percentage (.755), 15th in turnover margin (+4.3) and 17th in three-point field goal accuracy (.400).
Evansville junior Colt Ryan (G/F, Batesville, Ind.) ranks second in the MVC and 8th in the nation in scoring average (21.0).
Caleb Patterson (Sr., C, Ames, Okla.) secured his first career 20-point game on Friday at UNI. His 24-point total was fueled by a 7-for-8 shooting effort, a career high 3 three-pointers (3-for-3) and 7-for-7 effort at the free throw line.
The Bears are currently ranked 11th in the nation in turnovers per game (10.9). Last season, MSU finished 7th among 336 Division I teams in fewest turnovers (10.3). Missouri State has 32 turnovers over the last two games.
Matching a season-low with 60 points at Northern Iowa on Friday, the Bears dropped to 0-3 this season when scoring 60 points. The Bears also moved to 1-5 when committing 12 or more turnovers.
Missouri State is 16-4 all-time with Keith Pickens (So., G, St. Louis, Mo.) in the starting lineup. Pickens, who started 18 games for the Bears during his freshman season in 2009-10, has been in the lineup the last three games.
Last season, Evansville was the only team in the Missouri Valley Conference to beat the Bears by more than one point with a 77-65 win at Roberts Stadium on Feb. 2, 2011. It was one of just two conference road losses for MSU last season. The Bears also lost a four-point decision in the MVC Tournament championship game to Indiana State, in addition to one-point regular-season losses at Indiana State and at home against UNI.
Over the last eight games, Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) is shooting 60.0 percent from three-point range (18-for-30), while averaging a team-best 17.9 points and 7.5 rebounds.
The Bears have won seven straight home games against the Purple Aces, dating back to a 68-66 Evansville win at Hammons Student Center on Jan. 28, 2004. The Bears are 3-0 all-time at JQH Arena against Evansville.
Last season, Missouri State spent all but seven days in first place in the Missouri Valley Conference and is now outside the league leaders for the first day in 2011-12.
On Friday at UNI, the MSU bench outscored its starters by a 32-28 margin. Bears’ reserves have scored more points than the starters in two other games this season -- at New Mexico (Dec. 3, 2011) and against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 19). The club’s 38 bench points against TAMU-CC is a season high.
MSU is 50-13 all-time at JQH Arena, including a 41-5 record over the last three seasons. Since the onset of the 2009-10 season, the Bears have lost just four conference home games at home by a combined 13 points.
Christian Kirk (Fr., F, Springfield, Mo.) is averaging 5.7 rebounds per game during his three starts. MSU is 2-1 with the true freshman from Kickapoo HIgh in the starting lineup.
Evansville head coach Marty Simmons is 3-7 all-time against the Bears, including an 0-4 mark in Springfield.
Evansville comes into today’s game with four straight losses. Coach Marty Simmons’ Purple Aces fell at home to Drake on Friday night in Evansville, 69-60. UE star Colt Ryan (Jr., G/F, Batesville, Ind.) fouled out with just 22 minutes, and the rest of the club had trouble keeping up with Drake’s red-hot shooting night (.614). Ryan Sawvell (Fr., F, Mundelin, Ill.) posted a team-high 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting with 6 rebounds. Denver Holmes (Sr., G/F, Olathe, Kan.) added 12 points and 6 assists for Evansville.
Ryan ranks as one of the top scorers in the nation at 20.1 points per game and is also the team’s No. 2 rebounder (4.6). He has knocked down a team-high 34 three-pointers and is an 85-percent free throw shooter. Kenny Harris (Sr., G/F, St. Louis, Mo.) scores 11.7 points per game with a team-high 5.2 rebounds. Holmes scores 10.7 points per night and has a team-high 47 assists, while Ned Cox (Jr., G, San Antonio, Texas) has 43 assists and a 9.8 scoring average.
In his fifth season at his alma mater, Marty Simmons has three starters and 10 lettermen back from a 16-16 club that was 9-9 (6th) in the MVC last season. The Aces were 1-1 in the CBI last season and were picked fifth in the Valley preseason poll