Jan. 17, 2013
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Missouri State Bears (5-13, 3-3) at Bradley (11-7, 3-3)
Jan. 19, 2013, Carver Arena (11,164), Peoria, Ill., 1:05 p.m. (CT)
The Ten Count
- Gavin Thurman (Fr., F, Wichita, Kan.) is coming off a game-high 18-point performance at Indiana State, the second-best offensive output of his young career. Over the last four games, he is averaging 10.3 points and 3.5 rebounds.
- MSU's last two opponents -- Creighton (.574) and Indiana State (.571) -- have posted the top two shooting percentages against the Bears this season. MSU foes are shooting a collective .445 from the field this season, 7th in the Valley.
- MSU is 30-17 (.638) all-time against Bradley, the best winning percentage of any current MVC school against BU.
- Bradley is averaging a league-best 11.0 steals per game, which ranks No. 4 in this week's NCAA rankings. Dyricus Simms-Edwards (3.41, 3rd) and Walt Lemon, Jr. (2.24, 36th) are also nationally ranked in individual steals per game.
- Anthony Downing (Sr., Atchison, Kan.) is averaging 17.2 points in Valley games this season and has scored in double figures seven straight games. He moved up to 79th place on the Bear's career scoring list (625) with his 12 points at ISU.
- Paul Lusk's squad improved to 10th nationally this week in fewest turnovers per game (10.6), tops in the Valley.
- The Bears are 5-2 when out-rebounding or matching their opponents and 0-11 when getting beat on the glass.
- Missouri State has led 50 percent of its games this season at the half, going 5-4 when leading at the intermission.
- MSU is getting 58.9 percent of its scoring from its six freshmen (42.8%) and two sophomore (16.1%) players.
- This season, MSU is 3-1 when surrendering less than 60 points and 0-5 when allowing 68 or more.
Setting the Stage
Missouri State looks to get back on track on Saturday when it travels to Peoria, Ill., for a rare afternoon showdown with the Bradley Braves. Both teams are 3-3 in Valley play headed into the game -- tied for fifth place -- with MSU searching for its second league road victory of the season.
Paul Lusk's Bears are coming off a 68-60 loss at Indiana State on Wednesday (Jan. 16) in which MSU let a 31-27 halftime lead erode early in the second stanza. A 17-3 run by the Sycamores and 5 Bears' turnovers over a six-minute stretch early in the second half spoiled MSU's hopes of maintaining a share of fourth place in the MVC standings. The Bears climbed back within 50-45 of the lead with 7:37 to go, but allowed ISU to run off another 10-1 run and keep a safe distance. Gavin Thurman (Fr., F, Wichita, Kan.) scored a game-high 18 points, including the team's first 9, for Missouri State, while Anthony Downing (Sr., G, Atchison, Kan.) scored 12 points with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. ISU shot 61.9 percent in the second half.
Bradley snapped a three-game losing streak with Tuesday's 69-66 home win over Southern Illinois as the Braves improved to 8-2 at home this season. Second-year head coach Geno Ford has four starters, seven lettermen and nine total players back from last season.
Head Coach Paul Lusk
Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 21-29 (.420) in his second season at MSU and 23-52 (.307) in his third season overall as a head coach. He is 12-12 in the MVC (6-6 at home, 6-6 on the road), 9-16 in non-conference play (6-6 at JQH Arena, 3-6 away and 0-5 at neutral sites). He is also 12-12 in all home games, 9-12 on the road, and 0-5 at neutral sites. He is 2-0 against Bradley (1-0 in Peoria).
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 CollegeSportsMadness.com MVC Coach of the Year.
Missouri State and Bradley had never met before the Bears joined the Missouri Valley Conference in 1990-91. But since then, MSU has posted a 30-17 record against the Braves, including a 10-12 record in Peoria.
The Bears have swept the last two season series with Bradley, including a 51-48 decision in the most-recent meeting at Carver Arena (Jan. 21, 2012). In that game, MSU got 16 points from senior Caleb Patterson and 15 from classmate Kyle Weems to snap a three-game Valley losing streak with a 51-48 decision. Christian Kirk drew a charge with 6.7 seconds left to put the exclamation point on a solid defensive effort that saw the Bears hold BU to a .370 shooting clip.
In last year's final matchup between the clubs at JQH Arena (Feb. 12, 2012), Anthony Downing collected 16 points and a career-high 9 rebounds to help the Bears to a 64-53 win with MSU's defense shining again and holding the Braves to a .298 effort from the field.
Second-year head coach Geno Ford (Ohio, 1997) returns four starters and seven lettermen from a rebuilding 7-25 squad last year that was 2-16 (10th) in the Valley. Among the Braves' top returners is Dyricus Simms-Edwards (6-3, Sr., G, Peoria, Ill.) who ranks third nationally in steals (3.41) and averages 11.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Walt Lemon, Jr. (6-3, Jr., G, Chicago, Ill.) leads the squad with 13.4 points per game this season with an impressive .451 shooting accuracy from the field and .782 from the line. Tyshon Pickett (6-6, Jr., F, Passaic, N.J.), a one-time Valley Newcomer of the Week, is a product of Dodge City (Kan.) Community College and averages 11.2 points and a team-high 6.1 boards.
Bradley is 8-2 at home this season (7-2 at Carver Arena) and averages 6,745 per game this season. Only nationally-ranked Wichita State (69-63) and Michigan (74-66) have beaten the Braves in Peoria.