Bears Close Out January Slate at Drake
Jr., F, Christian Kirk
Jr., F, Christian Kirk

Jan. 27, 2014

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Missouri State Bears (14-6, 4-4) at Drake (11-9, 2-6)

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014
Tipoff: 7:05 p.m. (Central)
Location: Knapp Center (7,152), Des Moines, Iowa
Series: MSU leads 37-10 (MSU leads 15-8 in Des Moines)
TV: KY3-TV and Missouri State Basketball TV Network (Ned Reynolds, Kelby Stuckey) |  ESPN3
Radio: MSU Bears Radio Network, flagship KTXR (101.3 FM) (Art Hains, Mike Keltner)
Live Stats:
Live Video: ESPN3
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Tickets: Game 21 Tickets  | MSU Mini Ticket Plans  | Next home game tickets vs. Bradley

Connect: @MissouriStBears @MSUBearsHoops #MSUBears


  • Missouri State is looking for a rare fifth win in the month of January. The MVC champion Bears went 8-2 during a busy January 2011 surge three years ago as the only MSU squad over the last six seasons to hit five January wins.
  • In helping the Bears to a pair of wins last week, Jarmar Gulley (Sr., F, Beaumont, Texas) led all MVC players in rebounds (23) and offensive rebounds (12), and was second in scoring (43). He also became the first MSU player since Kyle Weems (Feb. 17-20, 2010) to post a double-double in back-to-back games.
  • Drake is ranked 24th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (.397) and 45th in 3-pointers per game (7.9).
  • MSU is 14-9 all-time at the Knapp Center and has won 3 straight in the facility.
  • Dorrian Williams (So., G, Oklahoma City, Okla.) ranks 2nd in the league and 12th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.24) and has started six straight games. Through 8 Valley games, he has 37 assists with just 10 turnovers (3.70).
  • Missouri State has shot 50 percent from the field just six times this season, but has reached the field goal efficiency milestone three times over its last six games. The Bears are 5-1 this season when making at least half their shots.
  • The Bears have overcome four double-figure deficits for victory this season, the program’s most in any season over the last 15 years. MSU has also bettered deficits of 8 points or more in 9 of their 14 wins.
  • Missouri State has won 7 games in a row when Christian Kirk (Jr., F, Springfield, Mo.) scores in double figures. He is averaging 4.3 points and 4.0 rebounds in his career against the Bulldogs (4 games).
  • With 44 treys, Austin Ruder (Fr., Nixa, Mo.) is on pace to become just the third MSU freshman to hit 50 3’s in a season.
  • Gavin Thurman (So., F, Wichita, Kan.), is averaging 8.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in league contests.


    The Bears have won 7 in a row in a series that dates back to 1986. Missouri State leads the rivalry by a 37-10 count, including a 15-8 lead in DesMoines, 21-1 in Springfield and 1-1 at neutral sites.
 Last year, the Bears won 77-65 at Knapp Center (1/5/13) behind a 24-point outburst from Anthony Downing, while Gavin Thurman added 13, and the Bears shot 51 percent from the field. Joey King scored 21 off the bench for the Bulldogs, and Ben Simons added 17 for the home club.
 Three weeks later, MSU scored a 78-72 decision at JQH Arena (1/27/13) as the Bears started four freshmen for the first time in school history to help the team shoot 56.3 percent from the field. Downing Scored 26, Keith Pickens added 19, and MSU knocked down 11 3-pointers. Simons tallied 19 points for Drake, which also got 17 from Micah Mason and 12 from Seth VanDeest.

COACH Paul Lusk

Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 41-44 (.482) in his third season at MSU and 43-67 (.391) in his fourth season overall as a head coach.  He is 20-24 in MVC games (13-8 at home, 7-16 on the road), 1-2 in MVC Tournament games and 21-20 in all non-conference games (13-6 at JQH Arena, 6-7 away and 2-7 at neutral sites).  He is also 26-15 in all home games, 13-22 on the road, and 2-7 at neutral sites. He is 4-0 against Drake (2-0 in DesMoines).
 The 42-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 16th 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.
 With the seventh-youngest team in Division I basketball last year, Lusk led MSU to its 42nd straight winning record at home and the fifth-best turnover average in the nation (10.2). The 2012-13 Bears also set high-water marks for most games against ranked opponents with six and the best single-season scoring total for a freshman class in program history (855).


  Missouri State will begin the month of February with a home game on Saturday, Feb. 1 against Bradley (2:05 p.m.) on Hall of Fame weekend at JQH Arena. The Bradley game is not televised.
 Paul Lusk’s squad will then play its final multi-game road swing of the year, Wednesday, Feb. 5 at Evansville (7:05 p.m.) on KY3 and Saturday, Feb. 8 at Southern Illinois at 6 p.m. on FOX Sports Midwest.
 MSU returns home on Wednesday, Feb. 12 for a rematch with Drake (7 p.m.) on ESPN3 to begin a two-game MVC homestand and begin a stint with four home games in a five-game stretch.

LAST GAME (Jan. 25)

   Missouri State got 17 points and a game-high 11 rebounds from Jarmar Gulley to turn back visiting Southern Illinois, 69-63, to help the Bears move into a three-way tie for third place in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.
 It was Gulley’s second straight double-double, making him the first Bear since Kyle Weems in February 2010 to post double-figure points and rebounds in back-to-back games.
 Gavin Thurman added 14 points for the Bears, who improved to 10-1 at home this season, while Dorrian Williams contributed 13 points and 6 assists. Austin Ruder was also in double figures with 12 points for Paul Lusk’s side.
 The Salukis got a game-high 18 points from Desmar Jackson, while freshman Tyler Smithpeters added 16 points behind 4 3-pointers.
 After the Bears led by two at the break, the lead changed hands four times in the second half before MSU took charge for good on a 3-pointer by Ruder with 7:36 to go. Gulley added a jumper on MSU’s next possession to stretch the home club’s advantage to 56-51 with 6:24 remaining.
 Southern Illinois got within three points twice more over the next three minutes, but the Bears responded by making 9-of-10 foul shots in the final four minutes of the game.  Still, it was Gulley and Thurman who made the game’s biggest plays down the stretch. After Williams made one of two foul shots to push the Bears ahead 61-56 with just over two minutes showing, Gulley snagged the miss on his second attempt and scored off the glass to give MSU its biggest lead of the night, 63-56.
 With just over a minute to go and leading by four, Thurman backed down an SIU defender and scored in heavy traffic to stretch the lead back to six. Williams and Nathan Scheer made four straight free throws from there.
 The Bears were out-rebounded 30-24, but owned a 13-9 advantage on the glass in the second half. MSU also committed just 8 turnovers after committing 3 in the game’s first four minutes and outscored the Salukis’ bench, 24-4.
 In the first half, the lead changed hands 11 times, but SIU was the team in charge early as the Salukis reeled off the game’s first 8 points and played nearly-perfect defense for the first four minutes.  MSU climbed back with a 10-2 run to knot the score at the 11:51 mark on a 3-pointer by Ron Mvouika.
 Neither team led by more than two until a 3-pointer by Williams and a pair of free throws by Thurman pushed Missouri State ahead 26-22 with just under three minutes left in the opening half. SIU ended the half on a 5-3 run and made it a 29-27at the break.



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