Jan. 11, 2012
Missouri State Bears (11-6, 4-1) at Northern Iowa Panthers (12-5, 2-3)
Fri., Jan. 13, 2012, 7:07 p.m. (Central)
McLeod Center (6,650), Cedar Falls, Iowa. I Game Notes (PDF) I Tickets
Series: MSU leads 39-22 (MSU is 18-11 in Cedar Falls)
Radio: KTXR (101.3 FM) and MSU Bears Radio Network (LISTEN LIVE)
Live Stats: Live Stats I Watch Live: FOX Sports Midwest & ESPN3.com
GameDay Gear I MSU Game Notes I MVC Notes
The Missouri State Bears have won two straight Missouri Valley Conference games and head into Friday's battle with rival Northern Iowa locked into a three-way tie for first place atop The Valley standings.
On Tuesday at JQH Arena, MSU had four players score in double figures in a solid 77-65 home win over Southern Illinois. Jarmar Gulley (Jr., G/F, Beaumont, Texas) scored a game-high 18 points for the Bears to go with 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) knocked down 16 points and snagged 6 boards, while Caleb Patterson (Sr., C, Ames, Okla.) bounced back from a two-game absence from a concussion with 15 points on a 6-for-10 shooting night. Christian Kirk (Fr., F, Springfield, Mo.) posted a game-high 10 rebounds in his second career start, and Anthony Downing (Jr., G, Atchison, Kan.) also helped the MSU cause with an 11-for-12 effort at the free throw line to boost his 13-point line. The Bears out-rebounded the Salukis 33-26 and forced 21 turnovers to improve to 4-1 in the MVC and stay on top of the league standings with Wichita State and Creighton.
MSU leads the all-time series with UNI, 39-22, including an 18-11 mark in Cedar Falls. The Panthers, however, have won five of the last six meetings, including three of the last four at UNI. The last three games in the series have been decided by one point.
COACH Paul Lusk:
Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 11-6 in his first season at MSU and 13-29 in two years overall. He is 4-1 in MVC play (2-1 at home, 2-0 on the road), 6-2 at JQH Arena, 5-2 on the road, and 0-2 at neutral sites. This is his first game against Northern Iowa as a head coach.
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. 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 after playing in three NCAA Tourneys as a player at SIU.
THE TEN COUNT:
Missouri State's next two games are against conference foes picked directly ahead of the Bears in the MVC Preseason Poll. MSU, which was picked sixth in the MVC poll in October, will travel to Northern Iowa on Friday (picked fourth), before hosting Evansville (picked fifth) on Sunday afternoon at JQH Arena.
In last year's game at UNI (Dec. 29, 2010), Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) knocked down a three-pointer with 2.5 seconds remaining to secure a 58-57 win for the Bears in the MVC opener for both clubs. The Bears overcame a 28-22 halftime deficit and got a team-high 14 points from Jermaine Mallett, while Weems secured a game-high 7 rebounds for MSU. The Bears went on to finish the league with a 15-3 record, including a 7-2 mark on the road.
Missouri State's 20 turnovers against Southern Illinois on Tuesday (Jan. 10) was its most since turning the ball over 23 times at Arkansas on Dec. 3, 2007.
Jarmar Gulley (Jr., G/F, Beaumont, Texas) has scored in double figures in seven straight ball games. The talented transfer from Highland (Kan.) Community College is averaging 14.0 points during that stretch with 5.7 rebounds, an impressive .514 field goal percentage and a team-high 11 steals.
Missouri State is 16-3 all-time with Keith Pickens (So., G, St. Louis, Mo.) in the starting lineup. Pickens, who started 17 games for the Bears during his freshman season in 2009-10, has been in the lineup the last two games (both MSU wins).
Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) is making his 100th consecutive start and enters tonight's game with double-figure scoring efforts in 16 straight games. His 96 career double-digit scoring affairs rank second on Missouri State's career list behind Daryel Garrison's 97 and are also second among active Division I players behind IUPUI's Alex Young (97). Weems ranks No. 8 on the MSU career scoring list (1,641), just 36 points behind Blake Ahearn (1,677 points from 2003-07) for the No. 7 spot.
The Bears started the week ranked 7th in the nation in turnovers per game (10.3). This week's top six teams are: Wisconsin (8.6), Purdue (9.9), Northwestern (10.0), Notre Dame (10.0), Missouri (10.1) and Youngstown State (10.2). Last season, MSU finished 7th among 336 Division I teams in fewest turnovers (10.3). Missouri State committed a season-high 20 turnovers in Tuesday's home win over Southern Illinois.
If situational stats are your thing, the Bears are: 6-0 when scoring first; 7-0 when out-rebounding their opponent; 4-0 when scoring 77 or more; 11-0 when holding opponents to 65 points or less; 5-1 with a field goal percentage of 49 percent or better.
Six of the last seven Missouri State opponents have registered double-digit offensive rebounds. MSU foes are averaging 12.3 offensive rebounds per game during that span with an overall rebound margin of 2.4.
Missouri State is 9-2 over its last 11 Valley road games, second only to Wichita State, which is 10-1 during that span. The Shockers' only loss in that span was at Missouri State on Feb. 26, 2011.
The Bears have had more turnovers than assists the last two ball games. MSU had 10 assists and 11 turnovers at Indiana State (Jan. 7) before committing 20 turnovers with just 12 assists against Southern Illinois (Jan. 10). The Bears entered the week ranked 17th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.36).
Over the last seven games, Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) is shooting 62.5 percent from three-point range (15-for-24), while averaging a team-best 18.1 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Michael Bizoukas (Sr., G, Munster, Ind.) needs just one more rebound to give him 200 for his career. He has played 102 career games, including 85 at DePaul.
Since 2004, UNI has made five NCAA Tournament appearances, including two at-large berths (2005, 2006).
Northern Iowa enters Friday's game after a tough 63-60 road loss to Creighton on Tuesday night in Omaha. The Panthers are now 12-5 overall and 2-3 in the MVC with losses in four of their last six games overall. UNI is 7-2 at home.
Anthony James (Jr., G, St. Louis, Mo.) leads Coach Ben Jacobson's squad with 14.2 points per game. Jake Koch (Jr., F, Ashwaubenon, Wis.) scores at a 10.8 pace and leads the club with 5.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Marc Sonnen (Jr., G. St. Paul, Minn.) is averaging 9.6 points per game and leads the Panthers with 31 three-pointers to help the club average 8.3 treys per game, third-best in the Valley.
Jacobson (North Dakota, 1994), in his sixth year at UNI, has 121-62 overall record and returns three starters and eight lettermen from a 20-14 club. Last year's Panthers' squad was 13-5 at the McLeod Center and finished 10-8 (4th) in the MVC.