Bears Prepare to Tangle with Nationally-Ranked Bluejays Wednesday in Omaha

Bears Prepare to Tangle with Nationally-Ranked Bluejays Wednesday in Omaha

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Jan. 28, 2013

| MSU Game Notes (PDF) |

Missouri State Bears (6-15, 4-5) at #21 Creighton (18-3, 7-2)

Jan. 30, 2013, CenturyLink Center (17,260), Omaha, Neb., 7:00 p.m. (CT)

The Ten Count

  • Gavin Thurman (Fr., F, Wichita, Kan.) is this week's MVC Newcomer of the Week after he averaged 15.0 points and 5.0 rebounds last week for MSU, including a career-high and game-high 21 points against No. 20 Wichita State on 1/23.
  • Anthony Downing (Sr., Atchison, Kan.) tallied 26 points in his last visit to the CenturyLink Center, a career-high that held until Sunday when Downing matched it with 26 points in the Bears' win over Drake.
  • The Bears' freshman class has accounted for 44.1 percent of the team's points this season, the 17th-best freshman scoring percentage in the nation. Likewise, MSU's frosh are averaging 26.6 ppg, which ranks 26th.
  • The Bears are 6-25 all-time gainst AP Top 25 foes with their last win coming last season in Omaha vs. No. 19 CU.
  • This is MSU's fifth game this season against ranked oppponents, a new high-water mark for the Bears' program.
  • Creighton is 44-6 at home over the last three years with MSU and Wichita State owning two wins apiece in that span.
  • The Bears shot 58.7 percent from the FT line in non-conference play, but have made 71.5 percent in Valley games.
  • MSU remains 11th nationally this week in turnovers per game (10.9), tops in the Missouri Valley Conference.
  • Marcus Marshall (Fr., G, St. Paul, Minn.) is 3 points shy of 200, a feat achieved by just 13 MSU freshman players.
  • Creighton leads the nation in field goal percentage (.519) and 3-point FG percentage (.448), while Doug McDermott is second among all Division I players in scoring (23.7 ppg), just behind Virginia Tech's Erick Green (25.2).

Setting the Stage

Missouri State will begin the second half of the Valley slate with a rugged road test at No. 17 (USA Today)/21 (AP) Creighton.
The Bluejays are 44-6 over the last three seasons at CenturyLink Center, with Missouri State and Wichita State accounting for two wins apiece in that span. The only team to ever win three in a row against the Jays at CenturyLink is Southern Illinois (2004-07). CU is 11-1 at home this season and is averaging 16,859 per game in home attendance.
Paul Lusk's Bears are playing some of their best basketball of the season and proved so by shooting a season-high 56.3 percent in Sunday's 78-72 home win over Drake. MSU rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to improve to 4-5 in Valley play at the turn and complete their third straight season sweep over the Bulldogs. Anthony Downing (Sr., G, Atchison, Kan.) matched a career-high with 26 points in the victory, while Keith Pickens (Jr., F, St. Louis, Mo.) shattered his career scoring standard with a 19-point, 7-rebound effort. Marcus Marshall (Fr., G, St. Paul, Minn.) added 12 points for MSU, which shot 71.4 percent from the field in the second half to tie a JQH Arena record.
Creighton (18-3, 7-2) snapped a two-game losing streak on Sunday night by dispatching Southern Illinois, 81-51, in Carbondale in a nationally-televised game. Doug McDermott led five Jays in double figures with 21 points and 10 rebounds. CU shot 63.0 percent from the field and knocked down 12 treys in the win.

Head Coach Paul Lusk

Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 22-31 (.404) in his second season at MSU and 24-54 (.299) in his third season overall as a head coach. He is 13-14 in the MVC (7-7 at home, 6-7 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 13-13 in all home games, 9-13 on the road, and 0-5 at neutral sites. He is 1-2 against CU (1-0 in Omaha).
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 series between the Bears and Bluejays dates to 1953 when the teams first met at McDonald Arena. All but three of the 60 all-time meetings have come when both clubs were members of the Missouri Valley Conference.
MSU is 28-32 all-time against Creighton, but has won six of the last eight meetings, including two in a row in Omaha. The Bears own an 18-9 advantage in games played at home against CU (3-3 at JQH Arena). MSU is also 5-17 in the series in Omaha -- with wins in the last two meetings at CenturyLink Center -- and 5-6 at neutral sites.
In the most-recent meeting (at JQH Arena, Jan. 11, 2013), the Bears fought within five of the visiting Bluejays at the half, but Doug McDermott took over in the second half, scoring 28 of his Arena-record 39 points in the second half and finishing 15-for-19 from the field with 10 boards. The Bears got 11 points from Keith Pickens (Jr., F, St. Louis, Mo.) and 10 apiece from Anthony Downing (Sr., G, Atchison, Kan.) and Gavin Thurman (Fr., F, Wichita, Kan.).

The Opponent

Third-year head coach Greg McDermott (UNI, 1998) has four starters and 10 lettermen back from an MVC championship club that finished 29-6 a year ago and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. McDermott is 70-25 at Creighton and 350-220 in 19 seasons overall. The Bluejays are the Valley preseason favorite again this year and enter tonight's game with an 11-1 ledger at home.
Leading the way for CU is All-American forward Doug McDermott. The 6-8 junior from Ames, Iowa, is second in the nation in scoring (23.7) and 25th in field goal percentage (.564). He also collects 7.2 rebounds, has knocked down 44 3-pointers and makes 56 percent of his shots. Providing support for the defending Valley Player of the Year is Gregory Echenique (6-9, Sr., Guartire, Venezuela) who scores 10.0 points and snags 7.5 boards per outing, while Ethan Wragge (6-7, Jr., Eden Prairie, Minn.) is averaging 809 points, makes 92 percent of his foul shots and has a team-high 52 3-pointers

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