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Bears Continue Vegas Classic Monday Night at JQH Arena

Dec. 19, 2011

Missouri State 78, Kennesaw State 55
Sat., Dec. 17, 2011, 2:05 p.m. (Central)
Missouri State Bears (6-3) vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders (1-7)
Mon., Dec. 19, 2011, 7:05 p.m. (Central)

JQH Arena, Springfield, Mo. I Game Notes (PDF) I Tickets


Series:  MSU is 1-0 vs. TAMU-CC (1-0 in Springfield)
Radio:  KTXR (101.3 FM) and MSU Bears Radio Network  (LISTEN LIVE)
Live Stats:  MSU Game Tracker    I    Watch Live: Bears All-Access
GameDay Gear I MSU Game Notes I MVC Notes



   After a solid 78-55 win over Kennesaw State on Saturday, the Bears continue the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic on Monday (Dec. 19) with a visit from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders at 7:05 p.m.
  This year's Las Vegas Classic features eight teams, each of whom will play two games at campus sites before advancing to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for a pair of games Dec. 22-23. .

COACH Paul Lusk

   Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 5-3 in his first season at MSU and 7-26 in two years overall.  He is 2-1 at JQH Arena, 3-2 in road games and will meet the Owls and Islanders for the first time as a head coach.
  Lusk 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 for the Boilermakers.  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 and played in three NCAA Tournaments as a player at SIU.


  • The Bears have held all eight of their 2011-12 opponents under 43-percent shooting from the field, pushing the Bears to 23rd in the nation in FG Percentage Defense (.369).  MSU has shot a higher percentage from the field than seven of its first eight foes, despite ranking 8th in the MVC in that category (.432).
  • MSU's next four games are all part of the 2011 Continental Tires Las Vegas Classic. The first two games of the event are held on campus sites with the Bears hosting Kennesaw State on Saturday (2:05 p.m.) and Texas A&M Corpus-Christi on Dec. 19 (7:05 p.m.) at JQH Arena before the Vegas portion of the event next week. MSU's two games at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas will be against West Virginia on Dec. 22 (7 p.m.) and St. Mary's on Dec. 23 (10:30 p.m.).
  • Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) is averaging 19.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game over the last two contests. The reigning MVC Player of the Year scored just 8.3 points per game during the club's first three games this season, but has turned the corner over the last week, firing at a 55-percent clip from the field and knocking down four three-pointers in that span.
  • Kennesaw State's Markeith Cummings ranks 60th in the nation in scoring (18.2), while Aaron Anderson is 39th in rebounding. As a team, KSU ranks 31st nationally in fewest fouls per game (16.0).  
  • Anthony Downing's (Jr., G, Atchison, Kan.) 10-for-10 effort at the free throw line at UALR was the best single-game showing at the stripe for the Bears in nearly two years. Jermaine Mallett went 11-for-11 against Southern Illinois at JQH Arena on Feb. 10, 2010. Downing's performance was also the best road free-throw effort since Deven Mitchell went 11-for-11 at SIU on Dec. 30, 2007.
  • The Bears are 10th in the nation this week in turnovers per game (10.8). Last season, MSU finished 7th among 336 Division I teams in fewest turnovers (10.3).
  • The Bears shot a season-best 54.1 percent from the field in Saturday's win at Arkansas-Little Rock.  MSU was knocked down at least five three-pointers and collected at least 20 field goals in all eight contests in 2011-12, while shooting a higher percentage than seven early-season foes.
  • MVC Preseason Player of the Year Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) has scored in double figures seven straight games and has now scored 10 or more points 88 times in his 110-game career with 13 double-doubles (two this season).  He matched a career high with 12 rebounds against Oklahoma State last Wednesday.
  • Texas A&M-Corpus Christi ranks 87th nationally in blocked shots (4.3). The Islanders are led by Nate Maxey (6-11, Fr., F/C, San Diego, Calif.) who blocks 1.8 shots per night, placing him 77th among all Division I players.
  • Caleb Patterson (Sr., C, Ames, Okla.) is 4 points shy of 500 for his MSU career (75 games).  Meanwhile, Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) is just 19 points away from 1,500 career. At UALR (12/10/11), Weems logged his 98th start and 100th career blocked shot.


Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, from the Southland Conference, entered the week with a 1-5 overall record before hosting South Alabama on Thursday and traveling to West Virginia on Saturday for the opening round of the Las Vegas event.

First-year head coach Willis Wilson (Rice, 1982) has just one starter and two lettermen back from a 10-21 squad that was sixth in the Southland West last winter.  The lone returning starter is Terence Jones (Jr., G, Baltimore, Md.) who scores at an 11.8 point-per-game pace with a team-high 1.3 three-pointers and 2.0 rebounds. Chris Hawkins-Mast (Sr., G/F, Washington, D.C.) is the other letterman back on the TAMU-CC roster. He is averaging 9.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per night. 

The only previous meeting between the Bears and Islanders came in the finals of the Price Cutter Classic at Hammons Student Center on Dec. 3, 2005. A solid gathering of 6,441 saw the Bears improve to 4-0 with a 95-75 win that saw Blake Ahearn score 32 points, knock down six three-pointers and earn tourney MVP honors.


Wednesday, Dec. 14
Baylor 69, Bethune-Cookman 42

Saturday, Dec. 17
West Virginia 84, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 64
Missouri State 78, Kennesaw State 55
St. Mary's 77, Bethune-Cookman 52

Monday, Dec. 19
Tennessee Tech at West Virginia, 6 p.m.
Missouri State vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 7:05 p.m.
Kennesaw State at St. Mary's, 9 p.m.
Bethune-Cookman at Stanford, 9 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 22
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi vs. Bethune-Cookman, 2 p.m.
Tennessee Tech vs. Kennesaw State, 4:30 p.m.
Missouri State vs. West Virginia, 7 p.m. (ESPN3.com)
Baylor vs. St. Mary's, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN3.com)

Friday, Dec. 23
TBA vs. TBA, 2 p.m.
TBA vs. TBA, 4:30 p.m.
Baylor vs. West Virginia, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Missouri State vs. St. Mary's, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN3.com)



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