Final Road Game of the Season is Crunch-Time Test for Bears
Guard - Marcus Marshall
Guard - Marcus Marshall

Feb. 25, 2013

  |  MSU Game Notes (PDF)  |  ISU Game Notes (PDF)

Missouri State Bears (9-20, 6-10) at Illinois State (16-13, 7-9)

Feb. 27, 2013, Redbird Arena (10,200), Normal, Ill., 7:00 p.m. (CT)

The Ten Count

  • Missouri State ranks No. 5 nationally in fewest turnovers per game (10.3), the best in the MVC.
  • 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 (7.4). The tandem is just 2 points shy of catching the 1996-97 pair of Kevin Ault (286) and William Fontleroy (222) as MSU’s top-scoring freshman combo ever.
  • Despite scoring in double figures in just 3 of the last 9 games, Anthony Downing (Sr., G, Atchison, Kan.) is averaging 12.8 points per game in that span. He is coming off a team-best 16 points in the club’s win at Eastern Michigan.
  • MSU needs a win at Illinois State to keep its hopes of a top-six seed in the MVC Tournament mathematically alive.
  • ISU’s Jackie Carmichael (Sr., F, Manhattan, Kan.) has 13 double-doubles this season and leads the Valley in rebounds (9.4), which is the 29th-best average in the nation this season. He is also the MVC’s top shot blocker (2.0).
  • Dorrian Williams (RFr., G, Okla. City, Okla.) needs two 3-pointers for 20 this season. No MSU team has ever boasted five players with 20 or more 3-pointers in the same season.
  • Christian Kirk (Jr., F, Springfield, Mo.) has scored in double figures in five of the Bears’ last eight games and is averaging 10.0 points in that span, while averaging 5.7 rebounds over the last three games.
  • The Bears have committed 10 or fewer turnovers in 10 straight games and 17-of-29 overall this season.
  • MSU’s 10 steals at Eastern Michigan on Saturday matched a team season high, also set against South Carolina.
  • MSU’s come-from-behind win at EMU marked its biggest comeback (13 pts.) since Jan. 22, 2011 at Creighton (15).

Setting the Stage

  Coming off an improbable come-from-behind win on Saturday at Eastern Michigan in the BracketBusters series, the Missouri State Bears close out their 2012-13 road slate on Wednesday night in Normal, Ill., with a critical battle against Illinois State. In short, the Bears need a victory to keep their hopes of a top-six seed in the MVC Tournament alive.
 A furious comeback by Missouri State in the final six minutes pushed the visiting Bears past Eastern Michigan, 57-54, on Saturday in the Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters in Ypsilanti, Mich. Anthony Downing (Sr., G, Atchison, Kan.) scored 16, and Marcus Marshall (Fr., G, St. Paul, Minn.) added 11 for the Bears who trailed 45-36 with 6:07 to play. MSU rallied for 21 points from there, including 9 by Downing down the stretch to steal one from the home standing Eagles.
 Illinois State dropped its third game in a row on Saturday, falling 80-71 at Utah State in the Redbirds’ BracketBusters game. Tyler Brown (Sr., G, Owensboro, Ky.) notched a game-high 35 points and 10 rebounds for ISU, and Jackie Carmichael (Sr., F, Manhattan, Kan.) posted 20 points and 10 boards, but it wasn’t enough to Utah State’s 52-percent team shooting effort.

Head Coach Paul Lusk

Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 25-36 (.410) in his second season at MSU and 27-59 (.314) 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 10-16 in non-conference play (6-6 at JQH Arena, 4-6 away and 0-5 at neutral sites).  He is also 15-14 in all home games, 10-17 on the road, and 0-5 at neutral sites. He is 1-2 vs. ISU (0-1 in Normal).
 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

  The Bears and Redbirds first met in the NCAA Division II national semifinals in Evansville, Ind., on March 16, 1967.
 The clubs have now played 60 times with the Redbirds owning a 34-26 advantage. The Bears have won three of the last five meetings overall. Missouri State is 6-20 all-time in Normal, but has split the last two meetings at Redbird Arena.
 Earlier this year in Springfield (Jan. 8), the Bears improved to 3-1 in league play with a 62-55 win over the Redbirds at JQH Arena. Anthony Downing (Sr., G, Atchison, Kan.) scored 24 points, made 6-of-8 free throws in the final 68 seconds and tallied 8 assists, while Marcus Marshall (Fr., G, St. Paul, Minn.) added 14 points for the Bears. ISU got 21 points and 12 rebounds from Jackie Carmichael (Sr., F, Manhattan, Kan.) to keep the Redbirds in the game.

The Opponent

   First-year Illinois State head coach Dan Muller (Illinois State, 1998) has four starters and nine lettermen back from a 21-14 club that made a run to the MVC Tournament finals last year and pushed deep into the NIT. After a 9-3 start, the Redbirds dropped their first six Valley games before leveling off and earning victories in 7 of their last 10.
 Leading ISU’s efforts is All-MVC senior Jackie Carmichael (6-9, F, Manhattan, Kan.) who is third in the league in scoring (17.8) and first in rebounding (9.4). Tyler Brown (6-4, Sr., G, Owensboro, Ky.) averages 17.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, has a team-high 66 3-pointers and makes 80 percent of his free throws, while Bryant Allen (6-0, Jr., G, Maplewood, Mo.) averages 9.3 points with 45 3-pointers.



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