Bears Set for 2012-13 Season Opener Friday Night at JQH
Guard Anthony Downing
Guard Anthony Downing

Nov. 8, 2012

Missouri State Game Notes  |  Philander Smith Basketball Page

Missouri State Bears (0-0) vs. Philander Smith Panthers (1-1)
Friday, Nov. 9, 2012
Tipoff: 7:05 p.m.
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Site: JQH Arena (11,000)
TV: Bears All-Access (Premium On-Line Channel)
Radio: KTXR 101.3 FM (Art Hains, Mike Keltner) <listen live
Live Stats: GameTracker on
Tickets:  or (417) 836-7678

 The Missouri State Bears officially begin the 2012-13 season Friday night (Nov. 8) when they welcome the Philander Smith Panthers to JQH Arena in the first-ever meeting between the two squads.

 Missouri State wrapped its two-game exhibition schedule last Saturday night with an 82-54 win over McKendree. The Bears jumped out to a 12-0 lead early in that game and never looked back as Gavin Thurman was once again the Bears’ top point collector with 18 points. Fellow freshman Marcus Marshall scored 15, while returners Christian Kirk (13) and Keith Pickens (12) were also in double figures for the home club with Pickens adding a game-high 8 rebounds.



 Thurman was the team’s top scorer in the preseason with 19.5 points per game, while Marcus Marshall added 14.5 points per night. The Bears showed balance and depth throughout the exhibition slate, tossing in 17 3-pointers in the Missouri Western win and forcing 23 turnovers and shot 50 percent from the field in the McKendree victory.

 Philander Smith, a transitioning NAIA program from Little Rock, Ark., visits JQH Arena for the first time after splitting its first two regular-season games last week.

 The Panthers topped Blue Mountain College in their season debut, 81-70, before falling 97-88 in a heart breaker at Texas College last Friday night.

 In the Blue Mountain game, Alvin Nance scored a game-high 37 points and went 6-for-7 from 3-point range to lead the Panthers, while Clayton Busby added 22 points behind six 3-pointers and a 7-for-17 shooting effort.

 Coach Sam Weaver’s club returns just two starters from last year’s 16-15 squad that was fourth in the GCAC standings.

 MSU is beginning a busy November slate that includes four straight home games to open the season. The Bears entertain San Diego State next Saturday (Nov. 17) before hosting Jacksonville on Nov. 19 and Malone on Nov. 21 in the preliminary rounds of the Hoops for Hope Classic that culminates with two games in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico after Thanksgiving.

Ten Count

  • Missouri State opens its 101st season of basketball tonight and 31st season at the NCAA Division I level.
  • Bears’ head coach Paul Lusk was a player at Southern Illinois during the 1992-95 campaigns, while Philander Smith head coach Sam Weaver was an assistant for the Salukis in Lusk’s sophomore season.
  • The Bears have won their last nine home openers and their last three season openers.
  • Now in their fifth season at JQH Arena, the Bears are 52-18 (.743) all-time at the 11,000-seat facility.
  • Over the last two seasons, the Bears have committed just 10.45 turnovers per game (700 turnovers in 67 games), the seventh-best average among all Division I teams in that span.
  • Only Navy (0.78) and UC Santa Barbara (0.78) have less experience per player than the 2012-13 Bears (0.83).
  • The Bears’ 17 exhibition 3-pointers against MWSU (10/30) would have shattered the school record of 14.
  • Sam Weaver is bringing his third team to MSU as a head coach. His Alcorn State Braves lost 89-57 (12/10/94) at Hammons Student Center. He later lost a 79-52 exhibition game (11/10/09) with Henderson State at JQH.
  • MSU senior Anthony Downing was an MVC All-Newcomer selection last year and four-time Newcomer of the Week.
  • The Bears’ six freshmen have collectively averaged 45.0 points per game during the 2012-13 preseason.

Coach Paul Lusk

Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 16-16 (.500) as he enters his second season at MSU and 18-39 (.316) in his third season overall as a head coach. He is 7-7 in non-conference play (4-2 at JQH Arena), 8-7 in home games, 8-6 on the road, and 0-3 at neutral sites.

 Lusk took the reigns as MSU’s 17th head coach on April 1, 2011. He came to Springfield after seven seasons at Purdue (2004-11), including the 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 coached in six of the last nine NCAA Division I Tournaments after playing in three NCAA Tourneys as a player at SIU.

 Lusk 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. He has never coached against Philander Smith.

The Series

 This is the first-ever meeting between the Bears and Philander-Smith in men’s basketball.

The Opponent

 Philander Smith and second-year head coach Sam Weaver return two starters from a 16-15 team that finished fourth (8-6) in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (NAIA).

 The Panthers have split their first two contests of the 2012-13 campaign and come to JQH Arena after a 97-88 home loss to Texas College on Nov. 2. Six-foot-five senior Alvin Nance is averaging 33.0 points per game early in the season for the Panthers after he dropped 37 points on Blue Mountain College in the season opener on Oct. 30.

 Senior DaMarkus Lipscomb started 30 games last season and averaged 11.5 points with 33 3-pointers to his credit, while junior Jaron Egbe also collected 30 starts and averaged 6.2 points in 2011-12.

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