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Gorillas to Make Home Debut Hosting Pitt State Classic - KOAM TV 7

Gorillas to Make Home Debut Hosting Pitt State Classic

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The Pittsburg State University men's basketball team will make its home debut Friday (Nov. 22) when the Gorillas host the two-day, four-team Pitt State Classic at John Lance Arena.

Pitt State and MIAA rival Missouri Southern will face NAIA members Bethany and Avila.  MSSU will take on Avila Friday at 6 p.m. (CST) with the Gorillas to face the Swedes at 8 p.m. On Saturday, the Lions and Swedes will take the court at 1 p.m. with the Gorillas and Eagles to follow at 3 p.m.

The Records
Pitt State enters the tournament seeking its first win of the season.  The Gorillas dropped a 93-80 decision to William Jewell in its most recent action Tuesday (Nov. 19) at Liberty, Mo.  Pitt State opened the season with an 80-76 loss at Wichita against Newman.

Bethany is 2-2 on the season heading into Friday's action.  The Swedes, who posted a 12-15 record a year ago, opened the season 2-0 before dropping back-to-back decisions to St. Gregory's, 96-82, and Oklahoma Wesleyan, 85-80.

Avila is 0-3 on the season. The Eagles, who posted a 10-19 record last season, have dropped decisions to Bethany (96-76), Tabor (83-81) and Saint Mary's (86-75) to begin the year.

Missouri Southern is 2-1 overall.  The Lions opened the season with consecutive wins, but MSSU dropped a 74-72 home decision to Arkansas-Fort Smith the last time out on Tuesday (Nov. 19).

The Coaches
Pittsburg State's Kevin Muff begins his fourth 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 48-39 (.552) record in his short tenure with the Gorillas.  This will be his first meeting against Bethany and his third against Avila. He is 2-0 against the Eagles.

Clair Oleen enters his 21st year as head coach of the Swedes. Oleen (Bethany, '77) has amassed 475 career wins leading his alma mater.

Rodney Perry enters his fifth year as head coach of the Eagles. Perry (Missouri State, '93) has notched a 30-30 career record leading the Eagles.

Robert Corn is in his 25th season as head coach at MSSU, guiding his alma later to a 390-300 (.565) record.

Series History
This will be the 12th all-time meeting between the Gorillas and the Swedes in a series that dates back to the 1922 season. Pitt State holds an 8-3 advantage in the series. PSU topped Bethany, 85-79, the last time the two squads met on Nov. 20, 2000.

The Gorillas and the Eagles will meet for the eighth time in history on Saturday. The series dates back to the 1981 season. Pitt State holds a 6-1 advantage in the series, including an 85-75 win the last time the two teams met on Nov. 17, 2012.

PSU at Home
The Gorillas have posted a 373-178 (.677) all-time record at John Lance Arena since the facility opened in 1972. The Gorillas have compiled a 186-61 (.753) record at home during the last 19 seasons. Pitt State's all-time home record stands at 817-339 (.707).

Scouting the Gorillas
Pitt State enters the tournament action with three players averaging in double figures on the season:  junior guard Devon Branch (20.0 ppg), sophomore guard Jake Bullard (18.0 ppg) and senior guard Sam Pugh (10.5 ppg).

Branch scored 20 points in the Gorillas season opener against Newman on Nov. 13 before exiting the game with a knee injury.  The Aberdeen, Md., native is not expected to return to the Gorillas lineup in time for the Pitt State Classic. Branch transferred to Pitt State last January from the University of Oregon. He did not play for the Ducks, but he averaged 22 points per game as a sophomore at Cloud County Community College in 2011, leading the Jayhawk Conference in scoring.

Branch posted 30 points and 16 rebounds in the Gorillas' exhibition loss to Kansas State on Nov. 1.  He also scored a game-high 27 points on Oct. 29 in an exhibition loss ot the University of Kansas.

Bullard (6-5, 180) is coming off a 19-point performance in Pitt State's road loss to William Jewell Tuesday (Nov. 19).  The Cleora, Okla., native also scored 17 points against Newman.

Bullard is shooting 59.1 percent from the floor (13-for-22) and also averaging 5.0 rebounds per game in the early goings this year.

Pugh (6-0, 180) is averaging 10.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and a team-leading 2.5 assists per game.  The Branson, Mo., native scored 17 points in the season opener against Newman.

Pugh has connected on four of eight shots from 3-point range.

Junior guard Jerrod Gaston, who transferred to Pitt State from Vincennes University, has come off the bench to average 8.5 points per game in the Gorillas' first two outings.

Senior guard/forward Terrell Eaddy also is contributing 8.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game on the season, while junior forward Alex Williams is chipping in with 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

Freshman guard Josiah Gustafson, who drew his first collegiate start Tuesday, has averaged 5.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

As a team, the Gorillas are shooting 46.8 percent from the field (51-109) and 31.3 percent from 3-point range (10-32).  Pitt State also is shooting 73.6 percent from the free throw line (39-53).

Pitt State has averaged 16.5 turnovers per game.

The Gorillas opponents have converted 47.7 percent of their shots from the floor (62-130), including 40 percent (16-40) from 3-point range.  Pitt State's opponents are shooting 61.4 percent from the charity stripe (35-57).

Scouting the Swedes
The Swedes enter Friday night's contest with an 2-2 record after dropping two consecutive contests to Saint Gregory's (96-82) and Oklahoma Wesleyan (85-80).

Senior guard Idris Idris returns after leading Bethany in scoring last season. The San Diego, Calif., native averaged 19.1 points and 7.8 rebounds a year ago. This season Idris is scoring 23.0 points by shooting .604 (32-of-53) from the field, including .533 (8-15) from beyond the arc. He also is second on the team with a 5.8 rebounds per game average.

Junior guard Kirby Hawkins is second on the team averaging 18.3 points. Senior guard Dwight Abad rounds out the three Swedes averaging in double figures with 11.0 points per game. He also leads the team with 5.3 assists per contest.

As a team, Bethany has averaged 83.3 points, while surrendering 78.8 points per game. BC is shooting .466 (116-249) from the field, including .319 (29-91) from three-point territory. The Swedes shoot .679 (72-106) from the charity stripe.

Scouting the Eagles
The Eagles are currently 0-3 after falling to Bethany (96-79), Tabor (83-81) and Saint Mary's (86-75). They will square off with Missouri Southern on Friday before taking on the Gorillas on Saturday.

Sophomore guard Sedrick Johnson  leads a trio of AU players averaging double figures. He has averaged 28.3 points and 7.0 rebounds to start the season. The Tulsa, Okla. native also leads the team with 11 assists. Freshman guard Trey Bales averages 13.0 points coming off the bench and freshman guard Joseph Johnson rounds out the three with a 11.7 points per game average.

As a team, the Eagles has averaged 77.3 points, while surrendering 88.3 points per game. Avila is shooting .392 (83-212) from the field, including .247 (22-89) from beyond the arc.  AU is shooting .657 (44-67) from the free throw line.

Pitt State Probable Starters
    F    24    Terrell Eaddy, 6-5, 205, Sr., Bronx, N.Y.
    F    32    Trevor Gregory, 6-7, 235, Fr., Lee's Summit, Mo.
    G    1    Jake Bullard, 6-5, 190, So., Cleora, Okla.
    G    4    Josiah Gustafson, 6-6, 190, Fr., Omaha, Neb.
    G    21    Sam Pugh, 6-0, 180, Jr., Branson, Mo.

Bethany Probable Starters
    G    1    Larry McLin, 5-7, 147, So., Johnson, Kan.
    G    2    Idris Idris, 6-5, 195, Sr., San Diego, Calif.
    G    3    Dwight Abad, 5-9, 160, Sr., Union City, Calif.
    G    30    Nathan Coleman, 6-4, 176, Jr., Oceanside, Calif.
    G    34    Johnathan Bledsoe, 6-1, 195, Fr., Gilbert, Ariz.

Avila Probable Starters
    F    10    Tyler Smith, 6-4, So., Lee's Summit Mo.
    F    50    Jordan Jensen, 6-4, Fr., Nixa, Mo.
    G    3    Sedrick Johnson, 6-2, So., Tulsa, Okla.
    G    4    Joseph Johnson, 5-5, Fr., Raytown, Mo.
    G    32    Brandon Murillo, 6-2, Jr., Lee's Summit, Mo.  

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