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Gorillas to Wrap Up Home Stand Against RiverHawks Wednesday - KOAM TV 7

Gorillas to Wrap Up Home Stand Against RiverHawks Wednesday

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PRESS RELEASE PITTSBURG STATE UNIVERSITY: 

The Pittsburg State University men's basketball team will wrap up a three-game home stand against Northeastern State University Wednesday (Jan. 29) before traveling to Edmond, Okla., to face the University of Central Oklahoma Saturday (Feb. 1).

Wednesday's tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. (CST) at John Lance Arena, while Saturday's action will begin at 3:30 p.m. at UCO's Hamilton Field House.

The Records
Pitt State enters the week 6-10 overall and 2-7 in MIAA action.  The Gorillas  dropped a pair of home games last week, falling 82-80 Wednesday (Jan. 22) to Nebraska-Kearney and 78-75 to Fort Hays State Saturday (Jan. 25).

Northeastern State is 11-7 overall and 6-5 in MIAA play.  The RiverHawks have dropped five of their last six contests, including a 75-63 decision at Washburn in the team's last action Saturday (Jan. 25).

Central Oklahoma is 11-7 overall and 5-6 in MIAA play. The Bronchos have dropped three of their last four games. UCO fell, 92-80, at Emporia State Sunday (Jan. 26).

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 54-47 (.535) record in his short tenure with the Gorillas.  This will be his fifth meeting with NSU. He is 2-2 against the RiverHawks. This will be Muff's fourth meeting against Central Oklahoma. He is 1-2 vs the Bronchos.

Larry Gipson is in his 17th year as head coach at Northeastern State. Gipson (Heidelberg College, '74) has notched a 275-195 (.585) mark at NSU. He is 4-5 vs. Pitt State.

Terry Evans is in his 12th year as head coach of  Central Oklahoma. Evans, (Oklahoma, '95) has compiled a 234-111 (.678) record while leading the Bronchos. He is 2-1 all-time against the Gorillas.

Series History
Pitt State and Northeastern State will meet for the 65th time Wednesday. PSU holds a decisive 43-21 advantage in the series, but the two sides have alternated victories in the last seven meetings. The Gorillas defeated NSU, 88-59, the last time the two teams met on Feb. 16, 2013, in Pittsburg.

Saturday's action will mark the 27th all-time meeting between the Gorillas and Bronchos. UCO holds a slight 14-12 advantage in the series that dates back to 1916, but the Gorillas have won six of the last eight contests.

UCO defeated Pitt State, 92-76, at Edmond the last time the two squads met on Feb. 23, 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 (19.8 ppg), sophomore guard Jake Bullard (14.4 ppg) and senior guard Sam Pugh (10.9 ppg).

Branch, who currently ranks third in the MIAA in scoring, 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 a season-high 31 points against Washburn on Jan. 18. He recorded 20 points against both Nebraska-Kearney and Fort Hays State (Jan. 22 & 25).

On the season, Branch is shooting 52.0 (89-for-171) from the field while also ranking second on the team with 4.8 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 to the University of Kansas.

Bullard (6-5, 180) ranks among the MIAA leaders in scoring (20th) and assists (seventh, 4.3 apg) on the season.

The Cleora, Okla., native posted a double-double with 15 points and a career high 10 assists against Eastern New Mexico (Nov. 29). He just missed posting a triple double against West Texas A&M on Dec. 18 with 20 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists against the Buffs. Against Fort Hays State Bullard tallied 15 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Bullard is shooting 52.2 percent from the floor (71-for-136), including 43.2 percent from 3-point range (16-for-37). He is averaging a team-leadign 4.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game as well.

Pugh (6-0, 180) is averaging 10.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and a team-leading 1.3 steals per game. He leads the MIAA in 3-point percentage at 53.4 (39-for-73).

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 ranks 15th in the MIAA in assists and steals.

Freshman guard Josiah Gustafson is averaging just below double digits at 9.1 points per game. The Omaha, Neb., native tallied a team-high 16 points and five rebounds against NW Missouri State on Dec. 5. He tallied 13 points and three rebounds against Emporia State on Jan. 15.

Senior guard Ethan Cordray (5.8 ppg), junior forward Alex Williams (5.6 ppg, and freshman forward Trevor Gregory (5.6 ppg) all chip in more than five points a game. Gregory is also averaging 4.1 rebounds per contest and shooting a team-high 63.6 percent from the floor (28-for-44). Cordray has converted 25 of 71 3-point field goals (.352).

As a team, the Gorillas are shooting 48.3 percent from the field (425-880)and 36.8 percent from 3-point range (112-304). Pitt State also is shooting 72.9 percent from the free throw line (312-428).

The Gorillas' opponents have converted 44.2 percent of their shots from the floor (419-947), including 35.0 percent (130-371) from beyond the arc. PSU's opponents are shooting 71.4 percent from the charity stripe (330-462).

Scouting the RiverHawks
NSU has three players averaging in double figures: senior guard Bryton Hobbs (23.8 ppg), junior forward Curtis Evans (10.1 ppg) and junior guard Dalen Qualls (10.0 ppg).

Hobbs currently leads the MIAA in scoring and ranks second in assists (5.4 apg). The St. Louis native also pulls down 4.2 rpg. Evans leads the team in rebounding (7.8 rpg) and field goal percentage (.541).  

As a team, NSU averages 76.5 points and shoot 46.6 percent from the field (441-947), 35.6 percent from the 3-point line (131-368) and 74.4 percent from the free throw line (364-489). The Tigers generate 20.2 points per game from the free throw line.

NSU's opponents are averaging 73.5 points and shooting 43.4 percent from the field (458-1055).

Scouting the Bronchos
Central Oklahoma has four players averaging in double figures: senior forward Josh Gibbs (20.3 ppg), sophomore guard Aaron Anderson (13.1 ppg), sophomore forward Cal Andrews (11.5 ppg) and sophomore guard Seth Heckart (10.2 ppg).

Gibbs also leads the team with 11.4 rebounds per game. The Kansas City, Mo., native ranks first in the MIAA in rebounding and second in scoring. Anderson leads the team in field goal percentage (.595) and assists (3.4 apg).

As a team, the Bronchos average 80.8 points and shoot 46.0 percent from the field (460-1001), 38.8 percent from the 3-point line (158-407) and 67.6 percent from the free throw line (296-438).

Central Oklahoma's opponents are averaging 75.0 points and shooting 45.1 percent from the field (438-972). UCO's opponents have made 71.6 percent of their free throw attempts (270-377).

Pitt State Probable Starters
    F    32    Trevor Gregory, 6-7, 235, Fr., Lee's Summit, Mo.
    F    33    Connor Kjer, 6-6, 205, Jr., La Habra, Calif.
    G    1    Jake Bullard, 6-5, 190, So., Cleora, Okla.
    G    5    Devon Branch, 6-6, 180, Jr., Aberdeen, Md.
    G    21    Sam Pugh, 6-0, 180, Jr., Branson, Mo.

Northeastern State Probable Starters
    F    10    Landon DeMasters, 6-4, 200, Jr., Van Alstyne, Texas    
    F    15    Marcus Sheppard, 6-4, 205, Sr., Vivia, La.
    F    22    Curtis Evans, 6-7, 215, Jr., Springdale, Ark.
    G    3    Bryton Hobbs, 6-0, 170, Sr., St. Louis, Mo.
    G    5    Keon Littleton, 6-1, 185, Jr., DeSoto, Texas

Central Oklahoma Probable Starters
    F    2    Josh Gibbs, 6-5, 235, Sr., Kansas City, Mo.
    F    21    Cal Anderson, 6-7, 200, So., Washington, Okla.
    F    32    Phillip Brown, 6-7, 230, Jr., San Antonio, Texas
    G    1    Aaron Anderson, 6-3, 190, So., Edmond, Okla.
    G    3    Seth Heckart, 6-0, 175, So., Woodward, Okla.  

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