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Gorillas Open Home Stand Against Mules, Griffons - KOAM TV 7

Gorillas Open Home Stand Against Mules, Griffons

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Press Release Pittsburg State University:

The Pittsburg State University men's basketball team will return to John Lance Arena for a pair of MIAA home games against the University of Central Missouri Thursday (Jan. 9) and Missouri Western State University Saturday (Jan. 11).

Thursday's tipoff  is set for 7:30 p.m. (CST), while Saturday's action will start at 3:30 p.m.

The Records
Pitt State is 5-5 overall and 1-2 in MIAA action.  The Gorillas posted an 87-72 victory over Lincoln Monday (Jan. 6) at Jefferson City, Mo., after falling 90-82 to Lindenwood last Saturday (Jan. 4) at St. Charles, Mo.

Central Missouri is 12-2 overall and 4-1 in MIAA play.  The Mules have won seven of their last eight contests, including a 77-63 victory over Washburn Monday (Jan. 6).

Missouri Western is 7-6 overall and 2-3 in the MIAA heading into a Thursday match-up against Emporia State University. The Griffons have dropped three of their last four contests, but Western pulled off an 89-82 victory over the University of Nebraska-Kearney in the team's most recent action Monday.

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 53-42 (.558) record in his short tenure with the Gorillas.  This will be his eighth meeting with the Mules. He is 2-5 against UCM. This will be Muff's sixth meeting against MWSU. He is 4-1 vs the Griffons.

Kim Anderson is in his 12th year as head coach at UCM. Anderson (Missouri, '79) has notched a 256-92 (.636) mark at UCM. He is 19-6 vs. Pitt State.
Brett Weiberg is in his first year as head coach of Missouri Western and his eighth season as a head coach. Weiberg compiled a 129-87 (.597) record while leading Northern Oklahoma College in the junior college ranks.

Series History
Pitt State and Central Missouri will meet for the 111th time Thursday. UCM holds a 68-42 advantage in the series and the Mules have won 16 of the last 18 meetings. UCM defeated Pitt State in the second round of the MIAA Tournament, 69-63, in the last meeting in 2013.

Saturday's action will mark the 68th all-time meeting between the Gorillas and the Griffons. Western holds a 37-30 advantage in the series that dates back to 1976, but the Gorillas have won the last four meetings.

Pitt State defeated Western, 57-56, the last time the two squads met at St. Joseph, Mo., on Jan. 30, 2013.

Scouting the Gorillas
Pitt State enters this week's action with three players averaging in double figures on the season: junior guard Devon Branch (20.0 ppg), sophomore guard Jake Bullard (16.0 ppg) and senior guard Sam Pugh (11.2 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. He notched 23 points and pulled down six rebounds against Lindenwood on Jan. 4.

On the season, Branch is shooting 55.1 (49-for-89) from the field while also averaging a team-high 5.3 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 with 20 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists against West Texas A&M on Dec. 18. Bullard tallied 16 points against Lincoln in PSU's last game on Jan. 6.

Bullard is shooting 53.9 percent from the floor (48-for-89) and also averaging a team-leading 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game in the early goings this year.

Pugh (6-0, 180) is averaging 11.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and a team-leading 1.6 steals per game. He leads the team in 3-point percentage at 51.1 (24-for-47). 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. Pugh scored 17 points while pulling down five rebounds against Lindenwood on Jan. 4.

Freshman guard Josiah Gustafson is averaging just below double digits with 9.7 points per game. The Omaha, Neb., native tallied a team-high 16 points and five rebounds against NW Missouri State on Dec. 5. Gustafson recorded 12 points against Lindenwood and 10 against Lincoln in the team's most recent action.

Junior forward Alex Williams (6.6 ppg), sophomore forward Denton Hays (6.3 ppg), freshman forward Trevor Gregory (5.8 ppg) and senior guard Ethan Cordray (5.7 ppg) all chip in more than five points a game. Gregory is also averaging 4.1 rebounds per contest and shooting a team-high 67.7 percent from the floor (21-for-31). Cordray has converted 15 of 38 3-point field goals (.395).

As a team, the Gorillas are shooting 50.8 percent from the field (283-557)and 38.3 percent from 3-point range (70-183). Pitt State also is shooting 71.3 percent from the free throw line (181-254).

Pitt State has averaged 16.0 turnovers per game.

The Gorillas' opponents have converted 42.9 percent of their shots from the floor (261-609), including 35.1 percent (84-239) from beyond the arc. PSU's opponents are shooting 71.5 percent from the charity stripe (196-274).

Scouting the Mules
Central Missouri has three players averaging in double figures to date: junior forward Dillion Deck (12.7 ppg), senior guard Daylen Robinson (11.9 ppg) and senior guard Charles Hammork (11.0 ppg). Additionally, freshman guard Kyle Wolf (9.1 ppg) and junior forward Brennen Hughes (8.6 ppg) are scoring just under 10 points a game. The Mules have 11 players that average over seven points per contest.

Deck also averages 5.3 rebounds per game, while Robinson leads the squad with 79 assists (5.6 apg).

As a team, UCM averages 81.4 points and shoot 49.0 percent from the field (400-816), 39.3 percent from the 3-point line (99-252) and 67.2 percent from the free throw line (240-357). The Mules generate nearly 17.1 ppg from the free throw line.

UCM's opponents are averaging 67.9 points and shooting 41.1 percent from the field (326-793).

Scouting the Griffons
Western has three players averaging in double figures to date: junior guard Ryan Devers (17.2 ppg), junior guard Cortrez Colbert (14.1 ppg) and senior guard Adarius Fulton (10.4 ppg). Additionally, junior guard Dareon Jones and senior forward Dzenan Mrkaljevic average 8.8 and 8.7 ppg respectively. Mrkaljevic also leads the team with 5.1 rebounds per game, while Devers leads the team by averaging 4.7 assists per game.

As a team, the Griffons average 77.6 points and shoot 45.4 percent from the field (349-768), 37.4 percent from the 3-point line (107-286) and 68.2 percent from the free throw line (204-299).

Western's opponents are averaging 77.3 points and shooting 46.8 percent from the field (346-740). The Griffons' opponents have made 68.9 percent of their free throw attempts (226-328). Their opponents out rebound them 38.8-31.5 per game.

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.

Central Missouri Probable Starters
    F    24    Dillon Deck, 6-9, 240, Jr., Smithville, Mo.
    F    33    Kyle Wolf, 6-6, 190, Fr., Lenexa, Kan.
    G    11    Daylen Robinson, 6-0, 190, Sr., Kansas City, Mo.
    G    21    Jon Gilliam, 6-2, 180, Sr., Paris, Mo.
    G    22    Charles Hammork, 6-6, 190, Sr., New Orleans, La.

Missouri Western Probable Starters
    F    21    Hans Thun, 6-5, 185, Jr., Edmond, Okla.
    F    32    Charlie Maquardt, 6-8, 220, Fr., Leawood, Kan.
    G    0    Adarius Fulton, 6-2, 175, Sr., Lithonia, Ga.
    G    1    Cortez Colbert, 6-2, 180, Jr., Spencer, Okla.
    G    3    Ryan Devers, 5-9, 170, Jr., Tulsa, Okla.

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