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Gorillas Face Road Match-Ups Against RiverHawks, Lions - KOAM TV 7

Gorillas Face Road Match-Ups Against RiverHawks, Lions

Updated:
Press Release PSU: 
 
The Pittsburg State University men's basketball team will wrap up a four-game road swing this week with match-ups against Northeastern State University Wednesday (Feb. 19) and Missouri Southern State University Saturday (Feb. 22).

Wednesday's tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. (CST) at the NSU Event Center at Tahlequah, Okla., while Saturday's action will begin at 3 p.m. at MSSU's Leggett & Platt Athletic Center at Joplin, Mo.

The Records
Pitt State enters the week 7-15 overall and 3-12 in MIAA action.  The Gorillas, who are battling through a five-game losing streak, dropped road decisions to Nebraska-Kearney and Fort Hays State last week. UNK posted a 92-83 win over Pitt State last Thursday (Feb. 13) and FHSU claimed an 87-69 win over the Gorillas Saturday (Feb. 15).

Northeastern State is 12-10 overall and 7-8 in MIAA play. The RiverHawks snapped a six-game losing skein with a 68-59 home win over Wasburn last Saturday at Tahlequah.

Missouri Southern is 17-5 overall and 11-4 in MIAA play. The Lions have won their last two games entering a Wednesday night contest against Southwest Baptist.

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 55-52 (.514) record in his short tenure with the Gorillas.  This will be Muff's fifth meeting with NSU. He is 2-2 against the RiverHawks. He has a 3-3 record in six previous meetings against the Lions.

Larry Gipson is in his 17th year as head coach at Northeastern State. Gipson (Heidelberg College, '74) has notched a 276-197 (.583) mark at NSU. He is 4-6 vs. Pitt State.

Robert Corn is in his 25th year as head coach of  Missouri Southern. Corn, (Missouri Southern, '78) has compiled a 405-304 (.571) record while leading the Lions. He is 27-22 all-time against the Gorillas.

Series History
Pitt State and Northeastern State will meet for the 66th time Wednesday. PSU holds a decisive 44-21 advantage in the series and have won three of the last four meetings.

The Gorillas defeated NSU, 73-63, the last time the two teams met on Jan. 29, 2014, in Pittsburg.

Saturday's action will mark the 93rd all-time meeting between the Gorillas and Lions in a series that dates back to the 1968 season.

MSSU holds a slim 48-44 advantage in the series. However, the Gorillas trail 32-14  in games played at Joplin. The two schools split their home-and-home season series in each of the past six seasons (2008-13), but this will be the lone regular season meeting between the two schools this year.

The Gorillas notched a 94-91 victory in Pittsburg the last time the two squads met on Feb. 27, 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 (20.4 ppg), sophomore guard Jake Bullard (14.6 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 32 points against Southwest Baptist on Feb. 4. He also tallied five rebounds and three assists in the losing effort.

On the season, Branch is shooting 50.8 (132-for-260) from the field while also leading  the team lead with 5.1 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 (19th) and assists (sixth, 4.2 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.  He tallied 16 points and five rebounds against Northeastern State (Jan. 29).

Bullard is shooting 47.8 percent from the floor (97-for-203), including 41.5 percent from 3-point range (27-for-65). He is also second on the team with 5.0 rebounds and leads the team with 4.2 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 team with a 3-point percentage of 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. He missed the last five games due to injury.

Freshman guard Josiah Gustafson is averaging just below double digits at 8.8 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.

Junior forward Connor Kjer (6.4 ppg), senior guard Ethan Cordray (5.8 ppg), junior forward Alex Williams (5.1 ppg) and freshman forward Trevor Gregory (5.0 ppg) all chip in more than five points a game. Kjer narrowly missed a double-double with a 14-point, nine-rebound effort against SBU on Feb. 4. He scored over 12 points against both UNK and FHSU last week. Cordray has converted 36 of 104 3-point field goals (.346). Williams tallied 15 points and eight rebounds against UNK on Feb. 13.

As a team, the Gorillas are shooting 46.7 percent from the field (573-1227)and 36.2 percent from 3-point range (156-453). Pitt State also is shooting 72.3 percent from the free throw line (416-575).

The Gorillas' opponents have converted 44.6 percent of their shots from the floor (573-1284), including 35.4 percent (186-525) from beyond the arc. PSU's opponents are shooting 70.8 percent from the charity stripe (451-637).

Scouting the RiverHawks
NSU has four players averaging over nine points per game: senior guard Bryton Hobbs (23.1 ppg), junior guard Dalen Qualls (9.8 ppg), junior forward Curtis Evans (9.6 ppg) and senior forward Marcus Sheppard (9.3 ppg).

Hobbs currently leads the MIAA in scoring and ranks third in assists (5.7 apg). The St. Louis native also pulls down 4.5 rpg. Qualls has converted 47.3 percent from beyond the arc (44-93). Evans leads the team in rebounding (7.0 rpg) and field goal percentage (.531).  

As a team, NSU averages 75.8 points and shoot 45.5 percent from the field (536-1177), 35.3 percent from the 3-point line (171-485) and 75.0 percent from the free throw line (424-565). The RiverHawks generate 19.3 points per game from the free throw line.

NSU's opponents are averaging 73.8 points and shooting 43.6 percent from the field (562-1289).

Scouting the Lions
Missouri Southern has four players averaging in double figures: senior forward Marquis Addison (16.0 ppg), senior forward John Talbert (11.9 ppg), junior guard Cameron Cornelius (11.9 ppg) and senior center Slim Magee (11.6 ppg).

Addison also leads the team with 39 steals on the year, to rank fifth in the MIAA. Talbert pulls down a team-leading 7.3 rebounds per game and has also tallied 60 assists and 38 blocks. Magee leads the team with a 64.9 shooting percentage (96-148).

As a team, the Lions average 85.1 points and shoot 50.3 percent from the field (639-1270), 36.8 percent from the 3-point line (118-321) and 74.1 percent from the free throw line (476-642).

Missouri Southern's opponents are averaging 71.4 points and shooting 42.4 percent from the field (533-1256). MSSU's opponents have made 66.2 percent of their free throw attempts (380-574).

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    5    Devon Branch, 6-6, 180, Jr., Aberdeen, Md.

Northeastern State Probable Starters
    F    15    Marcus Sheppard, 6-4, 205, Sr., Vivia, La.
    F    21    Landon DeMasters, 6-4, 200, Jr., Van Alstyne, Texas    
    F    22    Curtis Evans, 6-7, 215, Jr., Springdale, Ark.
    G    0    Michael Harmon, 5-11, 180, Jr., Houston, Texas
    G    3    Bryton Hobbs, 6-0, 170, Sr., St. Louis, Mo.

Missouri Southern Probable Starters
 
   C    15    Slim Magee, 6-11, 205, Sr., New Orleans, La.
    F    21    Jordan Talbert, 6-6, 200, Sr., Little Rock, Ark.
    G    23    Cameron Cornelius, 6-0, 192, Jr., Wichita, Kan.
    G    25    Lane Barlow, 6-0, 185, Jr., Chicago, Ill.
    G    34    Marquis Addison, 6-4, 180, Sr., Olathe, Kan.     
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