The Pittsburg State University men's basketball team will return to action in the New Year with a pair of road games against Lindenwood University Saturday (Jan. 4) and Lincoln University Monday (Jan. 6).
Saturday's tipoff in St. Charles, Mo., is set for 3 p.m. (CST), while Monday's action in Jefferson City, Mo., will start at 7:30 p.m.
The Records Pitt State is 4-4 overall and 0-1 in MIAA action. The Gorillas posted an 85-79 non-conference victory over West Texas A&M University in their last action on Dec. 18. PSU's Dec. 21 match-up against Southwest Baptist University was postponed due to inclement weather.
Lindenwood is 6-8 overall and 1-3 in MIAA play. The Lions have dropped three straight games, including an 82-64 road decision against Washburn University in their last action at Topeka on Dec. 22.
Lincoln is 2-10 overall and 0-4 in the MIAA heading into a Saturday match-up against Emporia State University. The Blue Tigers are seeking to halt a four-game losing streak. LU dropped a 70-65 decision to Washburn in its last action on Dec. 19 at Topeka.
The Coaches Pittsburg State's Kevin Muff is in 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 52-41 (.559) record in his short tenure with the Gorillas. This will be his second meeting with the Lions. He is 1-0 against Lindenwood. This will be Muff's seventh meeting against LU. He is 6-0 vs the Blue Tigers.
Brad Soderberg is in his fifth year as head coach at LWU and his 18th season as a collegiate coach. Soderberg (Wis.-Steven's Point, '85) has notched a 316-181 (.636) career record, including a 105-34 (.755) mark at LWU. He is 0-1 vs. Pitt State.
John Redmond is in his fifth year as head coach of Lincoln and his. Redmond (Wayne State, '76) has compiled a 17-102 (.143) record at LU and a 91-133 (.406) career mark. He is 0-6 vs. the Gorillas.
Series History Pitt State and Lindenwood will meet for just the second time Saturday when the Gorillas and Lions face off in St. Charles, Mo. Pitt State claimed an 85-79 victory over LWU at St. Charles on Dec. 7, 2012.
Monday's action will mark the 32nd all-time meeting between the Gorillas and the Blue Tigers. Pitt State holds a commanding 28-3 advantage in the series, including 27 consecutive wins.
The Gorillas defeated the Blue Tigers, 86-78, in a non-conference game at Joplin, Mo., on Nov. 16, 2012, and Pitt State downed Lincoln, 85-63, at Jefferson City, Mo., in the MIAA match-up on Jan. 10, 2013, last season.
Scouting the Gorillas Pitt State enters this week's action with three players averaging in double figures on the season: junior guard Devon Branch (20.2 ppg), sophomore guard Jake Bullard (16.5 ppg) and senior guard Sam Pugh (10.6 ppg).
Branch scored 20 points in the Gorillas season opener against Newman on Nov. 13 before exiting the game with a knee injury. He missed three games, before returning to the Pitt State lineup Nov. 22.
The Aberdeen, Md., native tallied 27 points against Eastern New Mexico and 24 vs. West Texas A&M in the WTAMU Thanksgiving Shootout. On the season, Branch is shooting 55.6 (35-for-63) from the field while also averaging 5.2 rebounds per contest.
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) recorded a double-double against Eastern New Mexico, recording 15 points and a career-high 10 assists. He notched a 21-point performance in Pitt State's victory over Avila on Nov. 23. The Cleora, Okla., native also scored 27 points against Bethany on Nov. 22. He just missed a triple-double the last time out with 20 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists against West Texas A&M on Dec. 18.
Bullard is shooting 56.8 percent from the floor (42-for-74) and also averaging a team-leading 5.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game in the early goings this year.
Pugh (6-0, 180) is averaging 10.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and a team-leading 1.6 steals per game. The Branson, Mo., native tallied 22 points against Eastern New Mexico and 12 points with a career-best 10 dimes against Bethany, recording his first career double-double.
Freshman guard Josiah Gustafson is averaging just below double digits with 9.4 points per game. The Omaha, Neb., native tallied a team-high 16 points and five rebounds against NW Missouri State on Dec. 5.
Junior forward Alex Williams (7.3 ppg), freshman forward Trevor Gregory (6.1 ppg) and senior guard Ethan Cordray (6.1 ppg) all chip in more than six points a game. Gregory is also averaging 4.4 rebounds per contest and shooting a team-high 67.9 percent from the floor (19-for-28). Cordray has converted 13 of 32 3-point field goals (.406).
As a team, the Gorillas are shooting 51.4 percent from the field (231-449)and 38.3 percent from 3-point range (57-149). Pitt State also is shooting 70.9 percent from the free throw line (129-182).
Pitt State has averaged 17.1 turnovers per game.
The Gorillas' opponents have converted 43.5 percent of their shots from the floor (215-494), including 34.7 percent (67-193) from beyond the arc. PSU's opponents are shooting 69.8 percent from the charity stripe (143-205).
Scouting the Lions Lindenwood has three players averaging in double figures to date: senior forward Tyler Ressel (16.0 ppg), junior guard Darris Smith (16.1 ppg) and sophomore guard Brandon Marquardt (10.6 ppg). Additionally, junior guard Michael Boos (9.9 ppg) and junior forward Garrett Reeg (8.8 ppg) are scoring just under 10 points a game.
Reeg also averages a team-leading 5.5 rebounds per game, while Smith leads the squad with 46 assists (3.3 apg).
Sophomore forward Sam Mader contributes 7.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and shoots a team-leading 54.7 percent from the field (41-75).
As a team, the Lions average 81.7 points and shoot 48.8 percent from the field (378-775), 39.9 percent from the 3-point line (110-276) and 72.8 percent from the free throw line (278-382). The Lions generate nearly 20 points (19.9 ppg) from the free throw line.
LWU's opponents are averaging 79.8 points and shooting 46.6 percent from the field (375-805).
Scouting the Blue Tigers Lincoln has three players averaging in double figures to date: junior forward Mike Smith (15.4 ppg), junior guard Joshua Buie (13.2 ppg) and junior guard Clay Crouch (13.1 ppg). Additionally, senior forward Charles Cole is scoring just under 10 points a game (9.4 ppg).
Freshman forward Aaron Spudich contributes 4.4 points and a team-leading 5.1 rebounds per game, while senior center James Edmonds averages 6.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and a team-leading 21 blocked shots (1.8 bpg).
Smith shoots a team-leading 52.3 percent from the field, making 67 of 128 shots to date, while Buie paces the squad with 41 assists (3.4 apg).
As a team, the Blue Tigers average 75.9 points and shoot 42.9 percent from the field (321-749), 33.6 percent from the 3-point line (98-292) and 68.1 percent from the free throw line (171-251).
LU's opponents are averaging 87.2 points and shooting 49.3 percent from the field (363-737). The Blue Tigers' opponents have made more free throws (253) and LU has taken (251).
Pitt State Probable Starters F 23 Alex Williams, 6-7, 225, Jr., Salina, Kan. 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 5 Devon Branch, 6-6, 180, Jr., Aberdeen, Md.
Lindenwood Probable Starters F 3 Garrett Reeg, 6-6, 215, Jr., St. Louis, Mo. F 41 Sam Mader, 6-9, 225, So., Appleton, Wis. G 1 Darris Smith, 5-11, 150, Jr., St. Louis, Mo. G 2 Brandon Marquardt, 6-2, 200, So., Oshkosh, Wis. G 31 Tyler Ressel, 6-1, 160, Sr., Washington, Mo.
Lincoln Probable Starters F 32 Mike Smith, 6-6, 210, Jr., Bronx, N.Y. F 40 Aaron Spudich, 6-4, 240, Fr., St. Louis, Mo. C 33 James Edmond, 6-8, 235, Sr., Edwardsville, Ill. G 1 Joshua Buie, 6-1, 180, Jr., O'Fallon, Ill. G 3 Mario Bass, 5-10, 150, Sr., Memphis, Tenn.
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