Missouri State Bears (2-7) vs. Valparaiso (6-3)
Dec. 15, 2012, JQH Arena (11,000), Springfield, Mo., 7:05 p.m.
2012-13 Missouri State GameDay Guide | Tickets | Visitors Guide
The Last Meeting
February 19, 2011
The Ten Count
- MSU ranks 29th-best non-conference strength of schedule in all of Division I basketball and tops in the MVC.
- Missouri State ranks No. 7 among among Division I basketball’s least-experienced teams this season. The Bears average 0.83 years of college experience per player, by far the least in the Missouri Valley Conference.
- In this week’s NCAA rankings, the Bears are 22nd in 3-point FG defense (.262) and 27th in turnover margin (+4.1).
- Valparaiso’s Ryan Broekhoff (Sr., F, Frankston, Australia) is nationally ranked in seven individual categories, including 18th in free throw percentage (.923), 54th in 3-point FG percentage (.426) and 89th in scoring (17.4).
- The Bears are averaging 37.6 rebounds per game at home this season and 28.3 away from JQH Arena.
- Anthony Downing (Sr., Atchison, Kan.) has scored in double figures in 13 straight home games.
- Missouri State is 7-0 all-time in BracketBusters return games, including a 3-0 mark at home and 1-0 record at JQH.
- Christian Kirk (So., Springfield, Mo.) needs 3 rebounds to move into the all-time top 10 for career boards at JQH Arena. He has 79 rebounds in 20 career home games, just behind Wade Knapp (82) and Nafis Ricks (85).
- MSU had held six of its nine foes this season under 30 percent from 3-point range. Missouri State has also kept four opponents under 20 percent from long range, including nationally-ranked San Diego State and Oklahoma State.
- Drew Wilson (RFr., F, Tulsa, Okla.) is 11-for-12 (.917) from the field the last 6 games, all starts.
Free Pregame Fan Party
University Plaza (333 S. John Q. Hammons Parkway, Springfield) will host the second of three Bears’ fan celebration parties before the Valparaiso game this Saturday, Dec. 15. The event is free and will be held in conjunction with the Lady Bears’ postgame party, starting at 4:30 p.m. There will be free hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, appearances by the spirit squads and mascots, and a welcome presentation from Athletics Director Kyle Moats. No RSVP is required to attend the event, which is for MSU fans of all ages.
Setting the Stage
The Bears return to JQH Arena Saturday (7:05 p.m.) to take on the Valparaiso Crusaders from the Horizon League in Missouri State’s final non-conference home game of the season.
The contest is a return game from the 2011 BracketBusters game at Valpo that saw the Crusaders put a 24-8 run on the Bears late in the first half en route to an 80-67 decision. Missouri State, however, is 7-0 in BracketBusters return games and looks to avenge its critical 2011 loss by defending its home floor.
After a solid second half in last Saturday’s loss at No. 22/23 Oklahoma State, Missouri State hopes to carry that momentum forward to snap the club’s current five-game losing streak. The Bears fired at a 46.2 percent clip from the field in the second half against the Cowboys in Stillwater and held OSU to just 4-of-23 (.174) from 3-point range on the afternoon. Anthony Downing (Sr., G, Atchison, Kan.) and Christian Kirk (So., F, Springfield, Mo.) scored 8 points apiece to lead the Bears at Oklahoma State with Kirk contributing a team-high 7 rebounds.
Head Coach Paul Lusk
Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 18-23 (.439) in his second season at MSU and 20-46 (.303) in his third season overall as a head coach. He is 9-14 in non-conference play (6-5 at JQH Arena, 3-4 away and 0-5 at neutral sites). Overall, he is 10-10 in home games, 8-8 on the road, and 0-5 at neutral sites. He has never coached against Valparaiso.
The 41-year-old 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 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..
MSU leads the all-time series with the Crusaders, 14-4. This is Valpo’s first trip to JQH Arena, but the Bears are 6-2 at home against VU -- all at Hammons Student Center when the teams were Mid-Continent Conference rivals.
Saturday’s contest is a return game from the 2011 BracketBusters game at Valpo that saw the it put a 24-8 run on the Bears late in the first half en route to an 80-67 decision. Missouri State, however, is 7-0 in BracketBusters return games.
Valpo is one of only two teams -- along with Indiana State last season -- to ever beat the Bears in Springfield on senior night (1989).
Valpo head coach Bryce Drew (Valparaiso, 1998) is in his second year at the helm of his alma mater. He returns five starters and seven lettermen from a team that finished 22-12 and won the Horizon regular-season crown last year before a loss in the NIT first round to Miami (Fla.).
The Crusaders rely heavily on senior Ryan Broekhoff (F, Frankston, Australia) who is nationally ranked in seven individual categories, including 18th in free throw percentage (.923), 54th in 3-point FG percentage (.426) and 89th in scoring (17.4). He is a two-time Horizon League Player of the Week and Preseason Player of the Year. He is coming off a 24-point night at New Mexico on Saturday in which he also snagged a game-high 7 rebounds. VU also looks to Kevin Van Wijk (Sr., Hoofdorp, Netherlands) who averages 13.9 points and 4.9 rebounds.