Bears Step Out of Valley Play Saturday for BracketBusters Trip to Eastern Michigan
Feb. 21, 2013
| MSU Game Notes (PDF) | EMU Game Notes (PDF)
Missouri State Bears (8-20, 6-10) at Eastern Michigan (12-14, 5-7 MAC)
Feb. 23, 2013, Convocation Center (8,754), Ypsilanti, Mich., 11:00 a.m. (CT)
The Ten Count
- The trip to Ypsilanti will push Missouri State over the 20,000-mile mark in team travel this season (20,179), including the club’s summer tour of Costa Rica (5,906 round-trip miles) and Thanksgiving trip to Puerto Vallarta (3,492).
- Marcus Marshall (Fr., G, St. Paul, Minn.) leads all MVC freshmen in scoring (10.9 ppg), while Gavin Thurman (Fr., F, Wichita, Kan) ranks fourth (7.6). The tandem is just 16 points shy of becoming MSU’s top-scoring freshman pair ever.
- Keith Pickens (Jr., F, St. Louis) has tallied 148 points this season, surpassing last year’s total of 140 for a new career best. Pickens also needs 3 more rebounds to match last year’s total of 127 for a career high-water mark.
- Missouri State is 4-5 all-time in the Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters series, including a 2-2 mark on the road.
- MSU was 16-for-17 (.941) at the FT line against UNI on Tuesday and is now 135-for-172 (.785) over the last 10 games.
- Christian Kirk (Jr., F, Springfield, Mo.) has scored in double figures in five of the Bears’ last seven games and is averaging 10.1 points in that span.
- As of Monday, the Bears rank 6th nationally in turnovers per game (10.4), tops in the MVC and up one spot from last week. The Bears have committed 10 or fewer turnovers in 9 straight games and 16-of-28 overall this season.
- Gavin Thurman (Fr., F, Wichita, Kan.) needs 3 points to become MSU’s 15th freshman to score 200 in a season.
- Despite scoring in double figures in just 2 of the last 8 games, Anthony Downing is averaging 12.4 ppg in that span.
- The Bears are 8-2 this season when shooting at a better field goal percentage than their opponents.
Setting the Stage
Missouri State steps out of Missouri Valley Conference play on Saturday morning (11 a.m., CT) when the Bears travel to Ypsilanti, Mich., to take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles in the annual Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters series.
With back-to-back losses headed into the weekend, Paul Lusk’s squad looks to get back on track against a Mid-America Conference foe that is 11-3 at home this season. The Bears are coming off a narrow 69-63 home loss to the MVC’s hottest team, Northern Iowa, which won for the sixth straight time. Freshman Marcus Marshall (G, St. Paul, Minn.) notched a game-high and career-high 25 points on 7-of-13 from the field and a perfect 9-for-9 at the line to pace the Bears, who cut a double-digit deficit to three with 33.7 seconds to go. Christian Kirk (So., F, Springfield, Mo.) tallied 12 points and 6 rebounds to help pace the comeback effort and secure his fifth double-figure scoring game in seven outings.
After a 6-2 start, Eastern Michigan has lost five of its last eight contests. The Eagles are led by Glenn Bryant (Jr., F, Detroit, Mich.) who averages 10.5 points and 4.3 rebounds, while Derek Thompson (Sr., G, Detroit, Mich.) posts 10.2 points per game with 51 3-pointers on the season.
Head Coach Paul Lusk
Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 24-36 (.400) in his second season at MSU and 26-59 (.306) in his third season overall as a head coach. He is 15-19 in MVC games (9-7 at home, 6-12 on the road) and 9-16 in non-conference play (6-6 at JQH Arena, 3-6 away and 0-5 at neutral sites). He is also 15-14 in all home games, 9-17 on the road, and 0-5 at neutral sites. He is 0-0 vs. EMU.
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 CollegeSportsMadness.com MVC Coach of the Year.
Missouri State has won the only previous meeting between the teams, earning a 75-61 victory over the Eagles at JQH Arena on Nov. 22, 2009 in the finals of the Hispanic College Fund Classic.
Nafis Ricks and Caleb Patterson led five Bears in double figures with 13 points apiece, while tournament MVP Kyle Weems chipped in 11. MSU jumped out to a 15-4 lead in the first seven minutes, and after EMU cut its early deficit to nine at the 12:34 mark, the Eagles would get no closer the rest of the way.
Brandon Bowdry scored 15 points and snagged a game-high 11 rebounds off the bench for EMU.
The only active players on either team’s roster who played in that game were starters Keith Pickens (MSU) and Jamell Harris (EMU) who both had 2 points and 3 rebounds. EMU’s Matt Balkema contributed 3 points off the bench.
Second-year head coach Rob Murphy (Central State, 1996) is 26-32 at Eastern Michigan and was named the MAC Coach of the Year and NABC District 14 Co-Coach of the Year last season. In, 2011-12, the Eagles were 14-18 overall, but finished as MAC West co-champs after compiling a 9-7 league ledger.
This year, EMU is off to an 11-3 start at home, despite averaging less than a thousand per game at the Convocation Center. EMU is led by Glenn Bryant (Jr., F, Detroit, Mich.) who averages 10.5 points and 4.3 rebounds, while Southeast Missouri transfer Derek Thompson (Sr., G, Detroit, Mich.) posts 10.2 points per game with 51 3-pointers on the season. Daylen Harrison (Jr., G/F, Akron, Ohio) rounds out the trio of Eagle scoring threats, posting 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per night with a team-best 32 steals.
Six of Eastern Michigan’s 14 roster players are from Detroit and nine are from the state of Michigan.
Bears in BracketBusters
Missouri State is 4-5 all-time in the BracketBusters event, including a 2-2 ledger in road games. The Bears have split two previous BracketBusters matchups against MAC opponents with a 75-66 loss at Miami (Ohio) in 2004 and a 90-76 home win over Central Michigan in 2008.
Last year, the Bears ran into a buzzsaw from visiting Old Dominion as the Monarchs knocked down 12 3-pointers and got 28 points from future NBA standout Kent Bazemore to turn back MSU, 73-67, at JQH Arena. The Bears shot 46 percent from the field and had four players in double figures, including 13 by Anthony Downing and 11 by Keith Pickens.
After falling to Valparaiso, 62-54, earlier this year, Missouri State is now 7-1 in BracketBusters return games. MSU will travel to Old Dominion next season in a return matchup before hosting Eastern Michigan in 2013-14 or 2014-15.