Missouri State closes out the regular season with much at stake in home finale against the Braves
March 1, 2013 | MSU Game Notes (PDF) | Bradley Game Notes (PDF)
Missouri State Bears (9-21, 6-11) vs. Bradley (16-14, 7-10)
March 2, 2013, JQH Arena (11,000), Springfield, Mo., 7:05 p.m. (CT)
The Ten Count
- Entering the week, Missouri State ranked 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 (10.8 ppg), while Gavin Thurman (Fr., F, Wichita, Kan) ranks fourth (7.2). The tandem recently surpassed the 1996-97 pair of Kevin Ault (286) and William Fontleroy (222) as MSU’s top-scoring freshman combo ever.
- Anthony Downing (Sr., G, Atchison, Kan.) is coming off his 40th double-figure scoring game in two seasons.
- With a win, MSU will secure a winning home record for the 42nd consecutive season. MSU is currently 7-7 at home.
- Keith Pickens (Jr., F, St. Louis, Mo.) has led the Bears in rebounding in 5 of the last 6 games.
- Dorrian Williams (RFr., G, Okla. City, Okla.) needs one 3-pointer for 20 this season. No MSU team has ever boasted five players with 20 or more 3-pointers in the same season, although eight teams have had four (most recent 2010-11).
- Christian Kirk (Jr., F, Springfield, Mo.) has scored in double figures in five of the Bears’ last 9 games and is averaging 9.8 points in that span with 3 consecutive starts. He has more than doubled his scoring total from last year.
- As a team, Bradley ranks 7th nationally in steals per game (9.8) with two players ranked in the top 25.
- If the Bears win and Drake loses (against SIU), the Bears will be the No. 7 seed for the MVC Tournament. If MSU wins and Drake wins, the Bears are the No. 8 seed, and a loss to Bradley will make MSU the No. 9 seed.
- During the Division I era, the Bears are 27-3 on Senior Day/Night, including a 3-1 mark at JQH Arena.
Setting the Stage
Missouri State will wrap up its regular-season schedule Saturday when the Bears host Bradley on Senior Night at JQH Arena.
With a victory over BU, the Bears would secure a winning home record for the 42nd consecutive season. Paul Lusk’s squad is currently 7-7 at JQH Arena this winter with wins in three of its last four home contests.
MSU will recognize senior Anthony Downing (G, Atchison, Kan.) in pregame festivities today. Downing, a two-year starter from Independence (Kan.) Community College, has amassed 779 points in 62 career games for the Bears to go with 235 rebounds, 156 assists and 73 3-pointers. He sits in 52nd place on MSU’s career scoring list, just three points behind Kellen Easley (2002-06) for a spot in the all-time top 50.
Bradley, which is 4-8 on the road this season, is led by Walt Lemon, Jr. (Jr., G, Chicago, Ill., 15.5 ppg) and Dyricus Simms-Edwards (Sr., G, Peoria, Ill., 12.6 ppg). Newcomer Tyshon Pickett (Jr., F, Passaic, N.J.) also pitches in 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Head Coach Paul Lusk
Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 25-37 (.403) in his second season at MSU and 27-60 (.310) in his third season overall as a head coach. He is 15-20 in MVC games (9-7 at home, 6-13 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, 10-18 on the road, and 0-5 at neutral sites. He is 2-1 against BU (1-0 at home).
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 and Bradley had never met before the Bears joined the Missouri Valley Conference in 1990-91. But since then, MSU has posted a 30-18 record against the Braves, including a 17-4 mark in Springfield (3-1 at JQH Arena).
In last year’s final matchup between the clubs at JQH Arena (Feb. 12, 2012), Anthony Downing collected 16 points and a career-high 9 rebounds to help the Bears to a 64-53 win with MSU’s defense holding the Braves to a .298 effort from the field.
Earlier this season in Peoria (Jan. 19), a banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer by Walt Lemon, Jr. lifted Bradley past Missouri State, 69-66. The Bears overcame a 16-point deficit to tie the game with 4.3 seconds remaining on a drive to the bucket by Downing. MSU then applied pressure to the Braves on the in-bound play and pushed Lemon, out deep on the right wing where he heaved a desperation shot toward the basket, which caromed off the glass and in for the win.
Lemon had a game-high 20 points for the Braves, while MSU was led by Gavin Thurman, Downing and Marcus Marshall with 13 apiece.
The Bears matched a season high with 15 turnovers, but out-rebounded the larger Bradley club 33-25 and used a 58.3 percent shooting clip in the second half to mount the comeback effort. The Bears also produced their highest-scoring half of the season with 46 points in the second stanza, while MSU’s six freshman combined for 43 points on the afternoon.
Second-year head coach Geno Ford (Ohio, 1997) returns four starters and seven lettermen from a rebuilding 7-25 squad last year that was 2-16 (10th) in the Valley. The Braves are led by Walt Lemon, Jr. (Jr., G, Chicago, Ill., 15.5 ppg) and Dyricus Simms-Edwards (Sr., G, Peoria, Ill., 12.6 ppg). Lemon (23rd) and Simms-Edwards (7th) are both nationally ranked in steals, while the Braves rank 7th nationally as a team with 9.8 steals per game. Newcomer Tyshon Pickett (Jr., F, Passaic, N.J.) also pitches in 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Bradley is 4-8 on the road this season, but has not won a Valley road game since Jan. 12 (at UNI).