MSU at New Mexico, Saturday, 9 p.m.
Dec. 2, 2011
Missouri State Bears (4-1) at New Mexico Lobos (5-2)
Dec. 3, 2011, 9:00 p.m. (Central)
The Pit (15,411), Albuquerque, N.M. I Game Notes (PDF) I Tickets
Series: UNM leads 1-0 (1-0 in Albuquerque)
Television: Mountain West Network (DirecTV Channel 616)
Radio: KTXR (101.3 FM) and MSU Bears Radio Network (LISTEN LIVE)
Live Stats: Game Tracker
GameDay Gear I MSU Game Notes I MVC Notes
Missouri State concludes a two-game road swing Saturday when the Bears invade The Pit in Albuqurque, N.N. as part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Conference Challenge series.
The Bears are coming off a tough 68-63 road loss Wednesday at Oral Roberts, the preseason favorite to win the Summit League. MSU fell behind by 15 points midway through the second half before making a mad rush in the final minute with three three-pointers in the deciding moments. The Bears closed the gap to 66-63 with 5.3 seconds left in the game on a three-pointer by Anthony Downing (Jr., G, Atchison, Kan.). Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) scored 14 of his game-high 22 points in the final 7:18 to lead the MSU resurgence. He was joined in double-figures by Caleb Patterson (Sr., C, Ames, Okla.) who racked up 14 points and 6 rebounds in MSU’s first loss of the season.
New Mexico and former MSU head coach Steve Alford (Indiana, 1987) have reeled off three straight wins, including a 65-41 home win over Idaho State on Wednesday. Even though no Lobos scored in double figures in the game, UNM shot 41.4 percent from the floor. UNM had 10 players on the scoreboard and notched 22 second-chance rebounds. The Lobos’ second-chance points and bench scoring were overwhelming with 26 stick-back points and 29 points off the bench.
COACH Paul Lusk:
Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 4-1 in his first season at Missouri State and 6-24 in two years as a head coach. He is 2-1 in road games and will be meeting New Mexico for the first time.
Lusk, who turned 40 on Nov. 14, took the reigns as MSU’s 17th head coach on April 1, 2011. Lusk came to Springfield after seven seasons at Purdue (2004-11), including the last three as associate head coach. Now in his 14th 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 eight NCAA Tournaments.
THE TEN COUNT:
Missouri State’s Michael Bizoukas (Sr., G, Munster, Ind.) entered the week ranked 22nd in the nation in assists per game (6.3) and 40th in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.13). The transfer from DePaul ranks second in the MVC in both categories this week.
Former MSU head coach Steve Alford (Indiana, 1987) was 78-48 in four years (1995-99) in Springfield and led the Bears to the 1999 NCAA Sweet 16. He left Missouri State to take the head job at Iowa where he was 152-106 in eight seasons (1999-2007) with the Hawkeyes. Since coming to Albuquerque in 2007, Alford is 103-41 with the Lobos. Including his tenure at Manchester (Ind.) College, Alford is now 411-224 (.647) in 20 years as a collegiate head coach.
One of the fabled venues in all college basketball, The Pit at The University of New Mexico opened Dec. 1, 1966. The Lobos are 647-149 (.814) all-time in the 15,411-seat facility, including a 65-9 mark under Steve Alford. UNM has finished in the top 23 in national attendance average every season since the facility opened, including 16th (14,570) last season.
Missouri State is now 2-1 against conference preseason favorites as they prepare to take on their fourth such opponent in six games, all on the road. MSU topped conference favorites Nevada (WAC) and Arkansas State (Sun Belt) before falling short at Summit League preseason sweetheart Oral Roberts on Wednesday.
In Thursday’s USA Today Sagarin Ratings, Missouri State is No. 41, and New Mexico is No. 99.
Against the current Mountain West membership, Missouri State is 9-7 all-time. The Bears are 1-0 against Air Force, 1-0 against Colorado State, 0-1 against New Mexico, 2-2 against San Diego State, 2-2 vs. TCU, 0-1 against UNLV and 3-1 against Wyoming. Boise State is the only WAC school MSU has never played.
Two of the top nine free throw shooters in NCAA Division I history have Missouri State ties. The NCAA all-time free throw champion Blake Ahearn (.946) was a four-year standout for the Bears from 2003-07 and recently returned to the NBA D League after helping USA Basketball to a bronze medal in the Pan-Am Games. The No. 9 player on the career free throw percentage list is former MSU head coach and current New Mexico head coach Steve Alford (.899) who was at Indiana from 1983-87.
Reigning MVC Player of the Year Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) is coming off his best outing of the 2011-12 season with 22 points and four three-pointers at ORU. Weems was 9-for-17 from the field, also a season best, in notching his 14th career 20-point outburst. He has now scored in double figures in four straight ball games and upped his season scoring average to 12.8. Weems matched a career high with 12 rebounds against Tulsa on Nov. 26 as part of his 11th career double-double.
With a 22-point effort at ORU, Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) moved into the MSU all-time top 10 in scoring (1,432), surpassing Ben Kandlbinder (1994-98) for the No. 10 spot. He also moved into a tie for 10th place in rebounding (650). (See page 19 for all career charts.)
Entering the week, Caleb Patterson (Sr., C, Ames, Okla.) led the MVC and was 42nd nationally in free throw percentage (.909). Since then, he was 4-for-4 at Oral Roberts to boost his season percentage to .933. Patterson has scored in double figures in four games this season and has matched or surpassed his career scoring high twice already this year.