Bears Wrap Home Stand Wednesday Night Against UTM
MISSOURI STATE (7-0) vs. UT Martin (1-5)
Wednesday, Dec. 9, JQH ARENA, Springfield, Mo., 7:05 p.m.
GAME NOTES ...
The Game: Missouri State concludes a two-game home stand when it welcomes Tennessee-Martin to JQH Arena on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. The game is a return matchup from last season's ESPNU BracketBusters showdown won by the Bears on a buzzer-beater by Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.), 79-77.
The Bears are off to a 7-0 start, their best since the 1996-97 campaign and have reeled off six straight home wins for the first time in JQH Arena. MSU is one of 16 remaining undefeated teams in Division I basketball. Last week, Cuonzo Martin's squad won its first road challenge of the year with a 75-62 triumph at Arkansas-Little Rock on Dec. 2, before returning home to top Air Force, 58-48, in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge Series on Dec. 5.
UT Martin has started its season with a 1-5 record, despite an impressive 22.0 scoring average and 7.8 rebounding standard by Benzo Simmons who is also the Skyhawks' top free throw shooter at 87.2 percent. At 32, UTM rookie head coach Jason James (Graceland, 2000) is the third-youngest head coach in Division I basketball this season.
The Series: MSU has won both previous meetings, including last season's 79-77 win in Martin in the ESPNU BracketBusters series. The only other meeting was a 105-71 MSU win on Dec. 1, 1995 at Hammons Student Center.
The Coaches: Missouri State head coach Cuonzo Martin (Purdue, 2000) is 18-20 (.474) overall, 15-8 (.652) at JQH Arena in his second season at MSU and overall. He is 1-0 against UT Martin and 1-0 against Ohio Valley Conference opponents. Martin is also 7-4 in December, and 5-3 on Wednesdays.
Martin spent eight seasons as an assistant coach and associate head coach at Purdue (2000-08) where he was a standout performer for coach Gene Keady from 1991-95. He became MSU's 16th head basketball coach on April 1, 2008.
Martin (38) played professional basketball for four years, including two stops with the Milwaukee Bucks and one with the Vancouver Grizzlies of the NBA. He spent most of his professional playing time in the Continental Basketball Association and in Europe, leading Grand Rapids in scoring three seasons and leading the Felize Scandone team in Avellino, Italy in 1997. Originally from East St. Louis, Ill., he scored 20 points against the Bears as a Purdue player on 12/22/92 and helped Purdue to a 4-0 mark against MSU as a player and coach.
UT Martin head coach Jason James (Graceland, 2000) is 1-5 (.167) in his first season at Tennessee-Martin and overall. The 31-year-old coach spent the past seven seasons as an assistant for the Skyhawks after two seasons at Forest Park Community College in St. Louis. He was named team MVP for Graceland in 1999-2000 after earning team Freshman of the Year honors in 1996-97. He is 0-1 against MVC teams and 0-1 against Missouri teams.
The Ten Count: Ten Missouri State quick facts relating to today's game:
Dunk-O-Meter: Missouri State's season dunk total is now 10.
Last Outing: Missouri State opened the second half on a 13-6 run and never looked back in a 58-48 win over Air Force in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.
The Bears trailed 28-27 at the half, but stormed back to tie the game early in the second stanza on a three-pointer by Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.) after the Falcons scored the first basket of the second period. After the fifth tie of the game at the 16:04 mark of the second half, Weems hit his fifth trey of the game to give the Bears a 37-34 advantage, and Missouri State would never trail again. Weems' five three-pointers matched a career high, while his game-high 19 points helped the Bears improve to 7-0 for the first time since 1996-97.
The Bears reeled off 11 of the game's next 15 points to build a 48-38 lead on a jumper by Jermaine Mallett (Jr., F, Jackson, Miss.) with 8:49 to go. Adam Leonard (Jr., G, Lee's Summit, Mo.) made Missouri State's last two field goals of the night, both threes, down the stretch, and the Bears helped tie the MWC-MVC Series, two games apiece.
The second half comeback by the Bears followed a valiant run by the Falcons (4-2) who found themselves behind 15-4 less than five minutes into the ball game. Grant Parker paced a feverish first-half comeback by the visitors, finishing the first 20 minutes with 12 points, including 6-of-6 from the free throw line, and 15 points in the game.
On the Radio: All Missouri State games can be heard on KTXR, Springfield (101.3 FM), the flagship station of the Missouri State Bears Basketball Radio Network. Play-by-play man Art Hains will provide the game description.
Hains first began calling Bears action in 1977 and is in his second stint and 29th season overall as the Voice of the Bears. He called MSU games from 1977 to 1981 and returned to the mic in 1985. The UT Martin game will be Art's 860th Missouri State basketball broadcasts.
Color commentary will be provided this season by former Bears Mike Keltner (1970-74) and Drew Richards (2004-08). The Bears are 5-0 with Keltner providing color and 1-0 with Richards.
MSU basketball can also be heard on the nine-station MSU Bears Basketball Radio Network (see sidebar), in addition to live audio streaming on www.RadioSpringfield.com.
National & Conference Leaders: Adam Leonard (Jr., G, Lee's Summit, Mo.) ranks 29th nationally in three-point field goal percentage (.476), 45th in three-pointers per game (2.9), and 238th in free-throw percentage (.792). Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.) ranks 98th in three-pointers per game (2.4), 91st in field goal percentage (.529) and 232nd in scoring (15.0). Jermaine Mallett (Jr., F, Jackson, Miss.) is 106th in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.08) and 230th in assists (3.6).
As a team, MSU ranks among the nation's top 50 teams in five categories (see graph above). ... In the MVC, the Bears lead the Valley in three-point field goal percentage (.417) and rank second in scoring defense (59.4), field goal percentage (.480), assists (15.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.29). Individually, Kyle Weems is 5th in scoring (15.0), 2nd in FG percentage(.529), and 4th in three-pointers (2.4), while Adam Leonard is 2nd in three-pointers (2.9), 1st in 3-point pct. (.476), and 11th in free throw percentage (.792). Jermaine Mallett is 4th in assists (3.6), and 2nd in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.08).
Milestones: Adam Leonard (Jr., G, Lee's Summit, Mo.) needs 1 three-pointer for 200 in his career, 3 steals for 100 career, and 4 assists for 200 (all including Eastern Ky.) ... Leonard also needs 7 points for 100 this season ... Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.) needs 9 rebounds for 200 career ... Justin Fuehrmeyer (Sr., G, St. Charles, Mo.) needs 2 points for 400 career ... Fuehrmeyer also needs 7 assists for 250 career ... Isaiah Rhine (So., C, Versailles, Mo.) needs 5 points for 50 in his career ... Ryan Jehle (Jr., F, Overland Park, Kan.) needs 31 points for 200 career.
Following the Game On-Line: MissouriStateBears.com will provide fans around the world with a number of opportunities to view today's game. The "Fan Central" link on the site has links for Live Stats, On-Demand Video (Bears Live!), and the GameDay Guide. Final Stats are available on the Men's Basketball page on the www.MissouriStateBears.com site by going to the Schedule/Results link.
Links for tickets, game notes, and the GameDay Guide can also be found in this area.
The Missouri State Twitter page can be found at www.Twitter.com/MissouriStBears, and live audio on-line at www.RadioSpringfield.com.
Coors Player of the Week: After a game-high 19-point outing against Air Force on Saturday and 10 points in the road win at UALR, Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.) is the Coors Player of the Week for the second time this season. Weems matched a career-high with 5 three-pointers against Air Force, making 5-of-8 beyond the arc and recording a season-best 8 rebounds. In the UALR game, Weems shared team-high rebounding honors with 5 and was 4-of-8 from the field in helping the Bears to their first road win of the 2009-10 season.
Building the Program: On Wednesday, Nov. 11, Missouri State head coach Cuonzo Martin announced the receipt of National Letters of Intent from two high school prospects for the 2010-11 season. A third player committed to play for the Bears on Nov. 12.
Committing to Missouri State were:
Scheer, a student with a 3.95 grade-point average, was a consensus Missouri Class 4 All-State pick last season. He helped lead coach Dave Neier's St. Francis Borgia High School to a 28-3 overall record and Missouri state title last season after averaging 15.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game as a prep junior. He also led Borgia in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore with a 17.1 scoring average to go with 5.7 rebounds. An inside/outside threat, he showed good range with 41 three-pointers last season, while posting 60 assists and 44 steals and making good on 53-percent of his field goal attempts.
Copeland helped his Fort Smith (Ark.) Northside squad to the Arkansas Class 7A quarterfinals last season, earning All-State honors and earning a spot on the State All-Tournament Team. He averaged 15.2 points per game and led his team in field goal percentage. He holds a 3.4 grade-point average and is considered an athletic player with outstanding leaping and shooting abilities. Martin calls Copeland a slasher who can make shots and play three different positions.
Cooper averaged 18.0 points and 4.1 assists as a prep junior a year ago at North Pulaski (Ark.) High. He made 82-percent of his free throws and knocked down 53-percent of his three-point field goal attempts. He is a reputable defender who uses his quickness to create offense, and has a great instinct for the game. Martin says Cooper has the potential to be a great on-ball defender which complements his skills as a scoring point guard. His father, Raymond, is also Cooper's high school and AAU coach.
Bears in the Pros: Blake Ahearn (2004-07) is playing in Spain for MMT Estudiantes Madrid. Through 10 games with the club, he is averaging 15.7 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 25.1 minutes per game. He is 30-for-69 (.435) from three-point range. The NCAA all-time free throw leader is 51-for-52 (.981) at the charity stripe. Ahearn spent the bulk of the 2008-09 season with the Dakota Wizards of the NBA Development League where he was co-MVP of the NBA D-League All-Star Game after claiming league's Rookie of the Year honors in 2007-08. Ahearn had stints with the NBA's San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat during the most recent two seasons.
Deven Mitchell (2004-08) is playing for the CS Gaz Metan Medias squad in the Romanian League. He is averaging 12.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game through 11 games while making 55.1 percent of his field goal attempts.
Shelton Colwell (2003-04) is active in Austria, averaging 18.0 points and 6.3 rebounds through the first 6 games of the season for the BSC Raiffeisen Fursten feld Panthers.
Other former MSU players active in Europe last season were: Dale Lamberth (2006-08) who played five games in 2008-09 with UU-Korihait Uusikaupunki in Finland, averaring 6.0 points and 2.0 rebounds in limited playing time; Drew Richards (2005-08) who saw 15 games playing for Erdgas Ehingen/Urspringschule in Germany with 3.9 scoring and 6.7 rebounding averages. Other players will be added and updated in future game notes throughout the season.
Former Bear Rodney Perry (1991-93) is coaching the Kansas City Stars of the American Basketball Association where Lamberth is now a team member.
Preseason Valley Poll: The Bears were picked ninth in the MVC preseason poll, marking just the fourth time since the Bears joined the league in 1990-91 that they have been picked to finish in the lower division of the 10-team conference.
Home Attendance: In 2008-09, the Bears eclipsed 100,000 fans (121,502) for the 17th time in the last 24 seasons. The team's final home average of 7,147 in 17 games at JQH Arena was the second-best home average for Missouri State this decade and 15th best all-time. The team's 2008-09 net attendance ranked No. 6 all-time at MSU.
The Bears also improved to fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference in home attendance average after finishing sixth in 2007-08, and were Division I basketball's 20th most-improved program in home attendance in 2008-09.
The Bears have been ranked between 55th and 90th among Division I programs in home attendance in 16 of the last 22 seasons, including a national ranking of 75th in 2008-09.
Through 6 of 17 home games, the Bears have drawn 36,985 fans and are averaging 6,164 fans per game.
Debut of the Q: With a $30-million gift from Missouri State alumnus and Springfield-based hotel developer John Q. Hammons, the long-time dream of a new home for the Missouri State Bears and Lady Bears and an iconic tribute to MSU intercollegiate athletics became a reality last season. JQH Arena features a seating capacity of 11,000, including 50 courtside seats, 24 suites, PRIME Overtime Club, Hall of Fame and Legacy of Competition exhibits, 114 loge seats, 1,363 reserved student bleacher seats and 9,637 chairback seats.
The Bears defeated Arkansas, 62-57, before a sellout crowd of 10,881 on November 22, 2008 in the inaugural game at JQH Arena. The first opponent to beat MSU in the facility was Utah, 71-58, on November 26, 2008. MSU is 6-0 at JQH Arena in 2009-10 and 15-8 all-time.
MSU finished its inaugural campaign at JQH Arena with a 9-8 home record and an average home attendance of 7,147, ranking 75th among all Division I programs and 20th most-improved from the previous season.
The Program: Missouri State entered the 2009-10 season with the 28th-best all-time win total in NCAA Division I men's basketball and the 17th-best by winning percentage (.642). Currently, the Bears have an all-time record of 1507-835 (.644) in 97 seasons and are 523-318 (.622) since making the move to Division I in 1982-83.
During its Division I era, MSU has made NCAA Tournament appearances in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, and 1999. With Tournament wins over Wisconsin and Tennessee, the 1999 Bears advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. The Bears have also appeared in the National Invitation Tournament eight times -- 1986, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2005, 2006, and 2007. The 1986, 1993 and 2006 squads all reached the NIT quarterfinals.
The Bears won NAIA national championship titles in 1952 and 1953, while making six NAIA national tournament appearances from 1939-1954. MSU appeared in the NCAA Division II Tournament 10 times, finishing as national runners-up on three occassions -- 1959, 1967, and 1969.
Missouri State has won 23 conference titles, not including a 1992 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title.
Missouri State University: Missouri State University is a public, comprehensive university system with a mission in public affairs, whose purpose is to develop educated persons while achieving five goals: democratizing society, incubating new ideas, imagining Missouri's future, making Missouri's future, and modeling ethical and effective behavior.
With a record enrollment of 22,938 in 2009-10, MSU is the second-largest institution for higher learning in Missouri, and its identity is distinguished by its statewide mission in public affairs. This mission requires a campus-wide commitment to foster competence and responsibility in the common vocation of citizenship. Missouri State University-Springfield is a selective admissions, graduate level teaching and research institution.
Missouri State competes at the NCAA Division I level and is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference with affiliate membership in the Mid-American Conference for field hockey and men's swimming and diving.
Notable Missouri State alums include: Ryan Howard (2009 NLCS MVP, first baseman, Philadelphia Phillies), John Goodman (actor), Kathleen Turner (actress), David Glass (owner, Kansas City Royals), John Q. Hammons (businessman, hotel developer), Bob Holden (43rd governor of Missouri), Bill Mueller (2003 American League batting champ), Jackie Stiles (Division I career scoring leader), and Blake Ahearn (NBA D-League MVP and All-Star Game co-MVP).
Returning the Favor: Missouri State is 5-0 all-time in BracketBusters return games. Last season, the Bears were 60-57 winners at Central Michigan. Previous return games include: 2004-05 - MSU 69, Miami (Ohio) 63; 2005-06 - MSU 88, Oral Roberts 76; 2006-07 - MSU 79, Wis.-Milwaukee 60; 2007-08 - MSU 73, Winthrop 69. In the actual BracketBusters series, Missouri State is 3-3 overall and 1-2 at home.
Up Next: The Bears close out the calendar year with four straight road games, including Saturday at Arkansas State (7:05 p.m.) before returning home on January 1 to play Illinois State in their first home conference game.