Bears Head to Valpo for BracketBusters Showdown on ESPN2
Missouri State Bears (21-6)
Athletics-Recration Center, Valparaiso, Ind.
TV - ESPN2 (Dave O'Brien, Dick Vitale)
RADIO - MSU Radio Network (KTXR and www.RadioSpringfield.com)Tickets - CLICK HEREBracketBusters Home Page
Missouri State (21-6) will step out of Missouri Valley Conference play Saturday to take on Horizon League front runner Valparaiso (19-8) as part of the 2011 Sears BracketBusters series. The 4 p.m. contest will be played before a national TV audience on ESPN2 with Dave O’Brien and Dick Vitale calling the action from the Athletics-Recreation Center on the Valpo campus.
The Bears have reeled off four straight victories and sit atop the MVC standings with two conference games remaining. MSU matched a school record with its 13th conference win of the season on Tuesday night against Drake and shares the conference lead with Wichita State headed into the final week of the regular season.
Missouri State’s 60-51 win over Drake was highlighted by Kyle Weems (Jr., F, Topeka, Kan.) who notched his 10th career double-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists. The Bears out-rebounded the Bulldogs by a 36-31 margin and forced 14 turnovers, while holding the typically laser-locked visitors to just 4-of-23 (.174) from three-point range. MSU also collected 10 points apiece from Caleb Patterson (Jr., C, Ames, Okla.) and Nathan Scheer (Fr., F, Washington, Mo.) off the bench.
Valpo enters the game with a 19-8 overall record, including a 10-2 record at the ARC and 11-4 ledger in the Horizon League.
Missouri State head coach Cuonzo Martin (Purdue, 2000) is 56-38 (.596) in his third season at MSU and overall. He is 24-28 (.462) in Missouri Valley Conference games, including an 17-9 league record at JQH Arena (7-2 last season and 7-1 this season) and 7-19 mark in road games (6-2 this season). Martin has never coached against Valpo, but is 30-8 against non-conference opponents. He is also 10-12 in February, 19-9 on Saturdays, 12-25 on the road and 4-5 in ESPN games.
Originally from East St. Louis, Ill., he spent eight seasons as an assistant coach and associate head coach at Purdue (2000-08) where he was a standout player for coach Gene Keady from 1991-95. Martin, 39, became MSU’s 16th head basketball coach on April 1, 2008.
Dr. Homer Drew (William Jewell, 1966) is in his 21st season as head coach of Valparaiso and 32nd season overall. He is 367-301 (.550) at Valpo and 636-423 (.601) overall, placing him No. 7 among all active Division I coaches in career victories.
Drew has his team in the driver’s seat in the Horizon League with nine regulars back from a club that was 15-17 a year ago. Among the Crusaders’ standouts are Brandon Wood (6-2, Jr., G) who averages a team-high 16.3 points and has 85 assists. Cory Johnson (6-7, Sr., F) averages 14.5 points and 4.2 rebounds, while Ryan Broekhoff (6-6, So., G,) scores 10.7 points per contest with 4.8 rebounds and 54 three-pointers.
The all-time series between the former Mid-Continent Conference foes dates back to 1967. Missouri State leads the series, 14-3, including a 7-1 all-time record at The ARC in Valparaiso. The only Crusaders’ win over MSU at home came on 1/28/85 in a triple-overtime thriller. The Bears have won three in a row in the series and nine of the last 10.
In the most-recent meeting (2/17/90), Dale Ribble’s three-pointer with six minutes left in the first half put the Bears ahead to stay as they led 31-22 at the half and extended their advantage to 22 points with just over 9 minutes remaining. The victory locked up a share of the MCC conference regular-season title for the fourth straight year for Charlie Spoonhour’s club which was led by Lee Campbell’s 23 points and 16 rebounds.