Bears Wrap Home Stand Tuesday vs. Liberty
Nov. 25, 2013
Missouri State Game Notes
Liberty Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (4-0) vs. Liberty (1-4)
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013
Kickoff: 7:05 p.m. (Central)
Location: JQH Arena (11,000), Springfield, Mo.
Series: First meeting. (0-0 in Springfield)
Radio: MSU Bears Radio Network, flagship KTXR (101.3 FM) (Art Hains, Mike Keltner)
Live Stats: GameTracker (mobile friendly)
Live Video: Bears All-Access
Listen Live: RadioSpringfield.com
Tickets: Game 5 Tickets | MSU Students Free with BearPass ID | Mini Ticket Plans
THE TEN COUNT
- For the second time in three seasons under Coach Paul Lusk, Missouri State is off to a 4-0 start. In its Division I era (1982-83), MSU has started 4-0 just eight times. The last time MSU was 5-0 was in 2009-10 under Cuonzo Martin.
- Christian Kirk (Jr., F, Springfield, Mo.) posted a career-high 21 points off the bench in Missouri State’s win over Hampton on Sunday. He went 9-for-13 (.692) from the field, snagged a team-high 9 rebounds and tallied 3 steals.
- The Bears are just 3 wins shy of reaching 600 victories as a Division I program. MSU is 597-377 (.613) in 32 seasons since joining the DI ranks for the 1982-83 season.
- Missouri State has forced 33 turnovers behind 19 steals over its last two ball games.
- As of Monday, Paul Lusk’s club is one of 51 unbeaten teams in the Division I ranks, including three in the MVC (with Wichita State and Evansville) and three in the state of Missouri (with Saint Louis and Missouri).
- In this week’s NCAA rankings, MSU is 11th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (.456), 27th in scoring offense (88.3) and 36th in field goal percentage (.502).
- Jarmar Gulley (Sr., F, Beaumont, Texas) is coming off a career-high 23 points against Hampton after he went 8-for-11 from the field and 5-for-6 at the line with 4 steals and a pair of 3-pointers.
- The Bears have fired at a 50-percent clip or better from the field three games in a row, including a .560 clip last week.
- Ron Mvouika (Jr., G/F, Paris, France) is averaging 8.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists over the last two games.
- With Sunday’s injury to Marcus Marshall, Dorrian Williams will get the starting call vs. Liberty, his 19th career start.
This is the first-ever meeting between the Bears and Liberty.
Missouri State is 1-1 all-time against current members of the Big South Conference, both against Winthrop. The Bears lost to Gregg Marshall’s Winthrop team at Hammons Student Center, 77-66, in the ESPN BracketBusters series on 2/17/07, but avenged the loss the following year with a come-from-behind 73-69 win at Winthrop on 11/25/07.
COACH Paul Lusk
Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 31-38 (.449) in his third season at MSU and 33-61 (.351) in his fourth season overall as a head coach. He is 16-20 in MVC games (10-7 at home, 6-13 on the road), 1-2 in MVC Tournament games and 15-17 in non-conference play (9-6 at JQH Arena, 5-6 away and 1-5 at neutral sites). He is also 19-14 in all home games, 11-18 on the road, and 1-6 at neutral sites. He has never coached against Liberty.
The 42-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 16th 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.
With the seventh-youngest team in Division I basketball last year, Lusk led MSU to its 42nd straight winning record at home and the fifth-best turnover average in the nation (10.2). The 2012-13 Bears also set high-water marks for most games against ranked opponents with six and the best single-season scoring total for a freshman class in program history (855).
CORPUS CHRISTI CHALLENGE
The inaugural Corpus Christi Challenge, Nov. 24-30, includes two games at JQH Arena and two games at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi.
The Bears opened the tournament with an 81-67 home win over Hampton (Nov. 24) and now host Liberty on Tuesday, Nov. 26 (7:05 p.m.). The Flames have four starters back from a team that won the Big South Tournament and went to the NCAA Tournament a year ago.
The event then moves to the American Bank Center (8,156) in Corpus Christi, Texas for the semifinals and finals, Friday, Nov. 29 and Saturday, Nov. 30. The Bears will take on SEC foe Texas A&M in the semifinals at 9 p.m., on Friday. The Aggies have three starters back from an 18-15 squad. On Saturday, MSU will battle either ACC power Virginia, a 23-12 NIT team last season, or SMU (15-17) from the American Athletic Conference in the finals or third-place game.
Both MSU games in Corpus Christi will air live on CBS Sports Net (Dish 158, DirecTV 221).
Missouri State got career highs from Jarmar Gulley and Christian Kirk with 23 and 21 points, respectively, to turn back visiting Hampton, 81-67, in the opening round of the Corpus Christi Challenge.
Hampton got a game-high 29 points from Deron Powers, and Du’Vaughn Maxwell snagged a game-high 14 rebounds for the Pirates.
The Bears improved to 4-0 with a solid effort from their bench as Kirk helped pace a 49-point afternoon from the MSU reserves. After starter Marcus Marshall went down with an injury, just over 12-and-a-half minutes into the contest, and Keith Pickens hit the floor hard with 9:43 to go, the Bears rallied from a 22-21 deficit to close out the first half on a 21-9 run.
Kirk started the rally with a 12-foot jumper. Ron Mvouika then knocked down an 18-footer, and Gulley followed up with a shot jump shot to push the Bears ahead 27-25 with just under six minutes left in the first half. At the five-minute mark, Kirk sparked an 8-2 outburst by MSU with a layup and later converted a traditional 3-point play with 1:17 left in the opening stanza to extend Missouri State’s lead to 40-31. Gavin Thurman closed out the first half with a jumper from the right baseline at the horn to give the home club a double-figure lead, 42-31.
The clubs played even for the first nine minutes of the second half as Hampton got a pair of 3-pointers from Powers and a trey from Brian Darden to keep pace. Meanwhile, MSU turned to Gulley who scored all eight of the Bears’ points during that stretch after a Tyler McCullough dunk to open the half.
MSU began to get separation with just under 12 minutes to go. With a 56-47 laed, the Bears scored the game’s next eight points over the next 2 minutes, 15 seconds. Devon Thomas started the rally with an acrobatic layup, and Kirk cleaned up a Mvouika free throw miss and scored off the glass to put the Bears up by 14. Thomas would later add a free throw, and Gulley closed out the run with a layup that gave MSU a 64-47 lead with 9:35 left.
Gulley and Kirk carried the load the rest of the way, and Gulley’s 3-pointer with 4:20 remaining gave Missouri State its biggest lead of the day, 77-56. The senior scored 9 points in the final 7:07, while Kirk tallied 6 points in the final 5:00.