Obediah Church

Bears Entertain Valley Newcomers Wednesday vs. Valpo

January 15, 2018

By: MSU Athletics Communications

GAME 20 - Missouri State Bears (14-5, 4-2 MVC) vs. Valparaiso Crusaders (11-8, 2-4 MVC)
Date and Time Wednesday, January 17, 2018 | 7:00 p.m.
Location JQH Arena (11,000) | Springfield, Mo.
Tickets Valparaiso Game
Radio KTXR (101.3 FM) (Art Hains, Mike Keltner) | MSU Radio Network | Listen Live
Television ESPN3 (Scott Warmann, Danan Hughes) | ESPN3
Series Missouri State leads 15-7 | Last Meeting: MSU 67, Valpo 50 (12/31/17)
Live Stats Live Stats
Game Notes Missouri State | Valparaiso | MVC Notebook | MSU Media Guide
Follow Facebook | Athletics Twitter | Basketball Twitter | Instagram | #MSUBears
Up Next The Bears take on league-leading Drake on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Des Moines on FOX Sports Midwest before traveling to Peoria on Jan. 23 to battle Bradley at 7 p.m.
Promotions $5 Upper-Level tickets | Share the Bear for SPD and local children | Athletic Director's Honor Roll |  | Tickets

Missouri State looks for a season sweep of Valley newcomer Valparaiso on Wednesday when the Crusaders come to JQH Arena for a 7 p.m. tipoff. Tickets are just $5 in the upper level for Wednesday's game.

Series History
  • Missouri State leads the all-time series between the former Mid-Continent rivals, 15-7. The Bears are 6-4 at home against the Crusaders all-time, which includes an 0-2 mark at JQH Arena.
  • Last season at JQH Arena (Dec. 10, 2016), Valparaiso senior Alec Peters was sent to the line for three free throws with 5.6 seconds to go and finished with 27 points to lift the Crusaders past MSU, 84-81. Alize Johnson scored 21 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to collect his fourth double-double of the season. Ronnie Rousseau III also scored 21 points for the Bears.
  • Earlier this season in Valparaiso (Dec. 31, 2017), MSU won 67-50 for its first win there since 1990. MSU used a 13-0 run in the first half to set a blistering pace. The victory was Paul Lusk's 100th as head coach of the Bears. Jarrid Rhodes led the Bears with 15 points, while Alize Johnson tallied 11 points and 12 rebounds. Obediah Church and Jarred Dixon added 10 points apiece for MSU.
The Ten Count
  • Alize Johnson (Sr., Williamsport, Pa.) has reeled off 7 straight double-doubles, the longest streak of his career. He has produced 13 double-doubles in 19 games this season, which is tied for 4th nationally.
  • Johnson leads the nation in defensive rebounds per game (8.47) and is 6th nationally in total rebounds per game (11.6). The senior continues to lead the MVC in rebounding for the second straight season.
  • Jarred Dixon (Jr., Kansas City, Mo.) is coming off a 15-point performance in Sunday's win over Indiana State. He averaged 10.5 points and 3.0 assists for the week and has started 13 straight games.
  • Over the last five games, including the last meeting against Valpo, Jarrid Rhodes (Sr., Palmetto, Fla.) is averaging 9.6 points and 2.6 3-pointers per game.
  • Ronnie Rousseau III (Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio) is averaging 11.5 points and 3.0 assists per game in two previous games against Valparaiso, including one start.
  • Johnson is averaging 14.6 points and 12.0 rebounds in his 25 career games at JQH Arena, which rank higher than any other player in the 10-year history of the facility.
  • Bears' head coach Paul Lusk is one win away from 50 career Valley victories. He is 1-3 all-time against Valpo.
  • Missouri State's 11 Division I non-conference foes combined to go 15-5 last week, helping the Bears jump to No. 60 in Monday's RPI. Six of the Bears' non-Valley foes have already eclipsed 10 wins, led by South Dakota State (16-5), Ga. Southern (14-5), Western Kentucky (13-5) and Wright State (13-5). The Bears defeated three of those four.
  • Missouri State enters the week ranked in the top 27 nationally in four defensive categories -- 11th in rebound margin (+8.4), 14th in scoring defense (62.7), 12th in field goal percentage defense (.387) and 27th in 3-point field goal defense (.307). MSU has also out-rebounded 17 of 19 opponents this season.
  • Obediah Church (Jr., Springfield, Ill.) is just 7 blocked shots away from matching Danny Moore (1996-99) for the top spot on MSU's career block list. Church leads the MVC with 2.0 blocks per game and has 160 career rejections.
  • Alize Johnson is this week's MVC Player of the Week after he averaged 18.5 points and 15.0 rebounds per game last week while helping push the Bears within a game of league-leading Drake. It is Johnson's second such honor this season (Dec. 26) and fourth of his career. The only Bear to win the award more times is Kyle Weems (6 times).
Coach Paul Lusk
  • Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 102-111 (.479) in his seventh season at MSU and 104-134 (.437) in his eighth season overall as a head coach.  He is 49-65 in MVC games (33-24 at home, 16-41 on the road), 4-6 in MVC Tournament games and 49-40 against all non-conference foes (32-13 at JQH Arena, 12-15 away and 5-12 at neutral sites). In all games, he is 65-37 at home, 28-56 on the road, and 9-18 at neutral sites. Lusk is 1-3 all-time against Valparaiso (0-2 at JQH Arena).
  • The 46-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 17th 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.
  • Lusk finished third in the MVC Coach of the Year voting in 2014 and was a finalist for the Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award that same year. He was also named one of the Top 25 high-major assistants by FoxSports.com in 2010, and CollegeSportsMadness.com named him MVC coach of the year in 2012. He is a member of the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame after scoring 2,743 points during a highly-touted prep career at Wesclin High in New Baden, Ill. He went on to play 107 college games at Iowa and Southern Illinois, earning All-MVC second-team honors in 1994 for the Salukis.
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