The Pittsburg State University men’s basketball team will return home after a three-game road swing to face Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics conference foe University of Central Missouri, Sunday (Dec. 18) at John Lance Arena. The contest will mark the last game before a two-week winter break.
Because of conflicts due to the extended PSU football season and fall commencement ceremonies, opening tip has been moved back to 8 p.m. (CST).
Pitt State brings a 6-4 overall and 2-2 MIAA record this evening’s action. The Gorillas were 1-2 in its three-game road trip, dropping a 57-66 decision to Truman and a 70-73 overtime loss to Northwest Missouri before capturing a 73-67 victory at Southwest Baptist.
Central Missouri is 5-3 overall and 1-2 in the MIAA on the season heading into a Wednesday matchup with Lincoln University. Last week, the Mules dropped two MIAA contests, including a 74-72 overtime loss to Emporia State.
Pittsburg State’s Kevin Muff is in his second season leading the Gorillas. Muff (Kansas State, ’86) became the Gorillas’ 14th all-time head coach on Apr. 5, 2010, after spending 12 seasons at Cloud County Community College, where he helped the Thunderbirds to an average of 21 wins in each of the last five seasons.
He has a 19-17 record in his short tenure with the Gorillas.
Kim Anderson is in his 10th year as head coach at Central Missouri. Anderson (Missouri, ’79) has guided the Mules to a 208-77 (.730) record. He is 15-5 for his career against the Gorillas.
Sunday evening’s action will mark the 105th all-time meeting between the Gorillas and the Mules in a series that dates back to the 1917 season.
Central Missouri leads the series, 65-40, with PSU snapping a UCM 12-game winning streak last season. Before last January, UCM had won the last five match-ups between the two teams in Pittsburg.
The two teams split the season series last season. On December 18, Central Missouri won, 78-74, in a hard-fought matchup in Warrensburg as Boo Hunter led the Mules with 26 points. Later in the season, the Gorillas bounced back with a 78-67 victory at John Lance Arena behind 14 points from Eric Ray.
SCOUTING THE GORILLAS
Four Pitt State players are averaging in double figures early in the season: senior guard Eric Ray and junior foward JaVon McGee lead the way with 12.7 points per game and 11.3 points per game, respectively. McGee (6-6, 224) is also contributing on the glass with 77 rebounds this season (7.7 per game), including 39 on the offensive end.
Senior forward Andra Bailey (11.0 ppg) and senior guard Drake Green (10.8 ppg) also have double figure scoring averages.
Bailey (6-4, 203), from St. Louis, Mo, is shooting a team-best 55.8 percent from the field (43-for-77) and pulls down a team-high 8.4 rebounds per game. Green (6-3, 199), an Oakland, Calif., native is shooting 37.0% from three-point range (10-for-27).
Junior guard Courtney Ingram (6-3, 210) and junior guard/forward Marky Nolen (6-3, 195) both average just under double figures to date. Ingram is averaging 8.4 points per game with a three point shooting percentage of 40.7 percent (11-for-27), while Nolen is averaging 6.6 points shooting at a 56.8 percent shooting clip (21-for-37). Ingram had a career-high 20 points in the Gorillas’ 88-78 win against Avila (Mo.) Saturday on Nov. 19.
As a team, Pitt State is shooting 44.0 percent from the field (253-for-575), 32.6 percent from 3-point range (58-for-178) and 73.0 percent from the free throw line (187-for-256).
The Gorillas have struggled with turnovers, committing 18.0 per game, but Pitt State has forced 19.2 turnovers per game as well. The Gorillas have averaged 13.3 offensive rebounds per game to date.
Pitt State’s opponents are shooting 46.4 percent from the field (242-of-522), 32.7 percent from 3-point range (50-for-153) and 69.8 percent from the free throw line (183-for-262).
SCOUTING THE MULES
Central Missouri has five players averaging in double figures in their balanced scoring attack: junior guard Widgett Washington (14.0 ppg), senior forward Boo Hunter (11.9 ppg), junior guard Yavario Smith (10.9 ppg), senior forward Dominique Long (10.0 ppg), and junior forward Matt Webb (10.0 ppg).
Webb (6-8, 250), from Kansas City, Mo., leads the team in rebounding and blocked shots, pulling down an average of 6.1 boards per game and recording 11 blocks on the season.
Washington (6-0, 160), who joined the team this season from Northeastern Colorado Community College, has a team-high 51 assists (6.4 apg).
UCM has shot the ball well from distance in the 2011-12 campaign: Sunday’s projected starters have a combined 36.1% shooting percentage from behind the arc (39-for-108).
As a team, UCM is averaging 81.2 points per game and shooting 46.6 percent from the field (236-for-506). The Mules are shooting 32.9 percent from 3-point range (47-for-143).
Pitt State (5-3)
F 4 Marky Nolen, 6-3, 195, Jr., Wichita, Kan.
F 33 Andra Bailey, 6-4, 203, Sr., St. Louis, Mo.
F 44 JaVon McGee, 6-6, 224, Jr., Kansas City, Mo.
G 5 Eric Ray, 6-2, 183, Sr., Topeka, Kan.
G 24 Drake Green, 6-3, 199, Sr., Oakland, Calif.
Central Missouri (7-0)
F 11 Dominique Long, 6-6, 185, Sr., Waynesville, Mo.
F 00 Matt Webb, 6-8, 250, Jr., Kansas City, Mo.
G 1 Yavario Smith, 6-0, 160, Jr., Due West, S.C.
G 12 Widgett Washington, 6-0, 160, Jr., Kansas City, Mo.
G 21 Boo Hunter, 6-3, 205, Sr., Memphis Tenn.
©2011 Pittsburg State University