Bears Wrap Up Non-Conference Slate at New Mexico State on Saturday
Forward - Gavin Thurman
Forward - Gavin Thurman

Dec. 20, 2012

Missouri State Bears (2-9) at New Mexico State (5-6)

Dec. 22, 2012, Pan American Ctr. (8,994), Las Cruces, N.M., 8 p.m. (Central)

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The Ten Count

  • Marcus Marshall (Fr., St. Paul, Minn.) is 13-for-21 (.619) from the field and averaging 15 points over the last 2 games.
  • The Bears have led five of their 11 games this season at halftime but are just 2-3 in those games.
  • MSU has the 41st-best non-conference strength of schedule in all of Division I basketball and tops in the MVC.
  • Missouri State’s freshmen scored 36 of its 47 points in Wednesday’s game at Alabama A&M (Dec. 18). As a group, the Bears’ six freshmen have scored 291 points (26.5 ppg) and account for 45.6 percent of the team’s scoring.
  • The Bears lead the MVC in 3-point FG percentage defense (.271) and turnovers per game (11.1). In this week’s NCAA rankings, MSU ranks  22nd nationally in 3-point defense and 41st in turnovers.
  • Keith Pickens (Jr., F, St. Louis, Mo.) needs to draw one more charge to give him 30 for his career and 3 total rebounds to give him 250 career caroms.
  • Missouri State has committed fewer turnovers than 10 of its 11 opponents this season and has had the same or fewer turnovers than 27 of its last 31 foes, dating back to last season.
  • Over the last two ball games, Nathan Scheer (Jr., G/F, Washington, Mo.) has made four straight shots.
  • Christian Kirk (So., F, Springifeld, Mo.) is now an even 100-for-200 (.500) from the field in his 42-game career.
  • Coach Lusk has used six different starting lineups in the Bears’ first 11 games this season..

Head Coach Paul Lusk

Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 18-25 (.419) in his second season at MSU and 20-48 (.294) in his third season overall as a head coach.  He is 9-15 in non-conference play (6-6 at JQH Arena, 3-5 away and 0-5 at neutral sites). Overall, he is 10-11 in home games, 8-9 on the road, and 0-5 at neutral sites. He has never coached against New Mexico State.
  The 41-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 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 MVC Coach of the Year.

The Series

The Bears and Aggies have met just one time previously with the Bears taking a 64-54 decision at McDonald Arena in Springfield on Dec. 12, 1950.
 Two weeks later, the Bears traveled to New Mexico for the Sunshine Tournament in Portales, which MSU won with victories over Northern Arizona, Abilene Christian and Central Oklahoma.

The Opponent

   Coach Marvin Menzies (UCLA, 1987) has two starters and seven lettermen back from a memorable 26-10 club that made the NCAA Tournament last season.
 The Aggies are 5-6 overall and 4-1 at home this season with Daniel Mullings (6-2, So., G, Toronto, Ontario) headlining the returnees with his 13.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game this season. Tyrone Watson (6-5, Sr., G, Hamilton, Ontario) also averages double figures with 10.7 points and 5.7 boards per game. The Aggies average 16.5 turnovers per game and have held their opponents to under 40 percent (.386) shooting from the field this season.
 Even though the Bears have not eclipsed 60 points in the month of December, the Aggies have been held under 60 points three times in their last five games.

Setting the Stage

   The Missouri State Bears look to snap a seven-game skid on Saturday evening when they travel to Las Cruces, N.M., to  the Pan American Center (8,994) to do battle with the New Mexico State Aggies.
 The Aggies, from the Western Athletic Conference, have won four of their last seven games, but have lost two in a row with back-to-back losses to New Mexico. NMSU draws 5,679 per home game this season and has two starters back from its 2012 NCAA Tournament team that finished 26-10.
 On Wednesday, Alabama A&M rode the momentum of a 13-2 run to start the second half into a 59-47 win over the Bears in Huntsville, Ala.  Marcus Marshall (Fr., G, St. Paul, Minn.) was the only MSU player to score in double figures in the game with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting. MSU’s five active freshmen scored 36 of the club’s 47 points in the game, including 9 by Gavin Thurman (F, Wichita, Kan.) and 4 apiece by Michael Simpson (G, Spring, Texas) and Bruce Marshall (C, Fayette, Mo.) who started his first collegiate game.



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