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MIAA Leading Gorillas Open Road Swing Against Lopers, Tigers - KOAM TV 7

MIAA Leading Gorillas Open Road Swing Against Lopers, Tigers

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___PittsburgStateGorillasLOGOPSU ___PittsburgStateGorillasLOGOPSU
Press Release PSU:

The Pittsburg State University men's basketball team will open a three-game road swing Thursday (Jan. 22) when the Gorillas travel to Kearney, Neb., to face the University of Nebraska-Kearney in MIAA action.


The Gorillas and Lopers will meet at 7:30 p.m. at UNK's Health & Sports Center.

Following Thursday's action, Pitt State will travel to Hays, Kan., to face Fort Hays State University at 4 p.m. Saturday (Jan. 24) at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

The Gorillas will close out the road swing on Wednesday, Jan. 28, against Northeastern State University at Tahlequah, Okla.

The Records
Pitt State is 10-6 overall, 6-2 in the MIAA and tied atop the conference standings (with Lindenwood University) after posting three straight wins.  The Gorillas rolled to an 82-40 victory over Washburn University in their last action Saturday (Jan. 17).

UNK is 10-5 overall, 6-3 in the MIAA and tied for third in the conference standings (with UCM & NWMSU).  The Lopers have won two straight games, including an 83-80 win over the University of Central Oklahoma Saturday (Jan. 17).

FHSU is 11-6 overall, 5-4 in the MIAA and tied for seventh in the conference standings heading into a Thursday (Jan. 22) non-conference match-up against South Dakota Mines. The Tigers have won three straight games, including a 77-49 win over Northeastern State University Saturday (Jan. 17).

Head Coach Kevin Muff
Pittsburg State's Kevin Muff is in his fifth 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 66-61 (.520) record in his tenure with the Gorillas.  This will be his fourth meeting vs. UNK. Muff is 1-2 vs. the Lopers. He has a 1-6 record vs. FHSU.

Series History
Pitt State and UNK will meet for the 34th time Thursday in a series that dates back to the 1968 season.  The Lopers hold a 26-7 advantage in the series, including a 14-1 mark and 13 straight wins in games played at Kearney, Neb.

Last Year (vs. UNK):  The Lopers posted 82-80 (Jan. 22, 2014, in Pittsburg) and 92-83 (Feb. 13, 2014, in Kearney) victories over the Gorillas during the 2014 season.

Ethan Brozek posted a double-double with game highs of 23 points and 18 rebounds in the Feb. 13 win at Kearney.  Devon Branch countered with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Gorillas.

Pitt State and FHSU will meet for the 154th time Saturday in a series that dates all the way back to the 1917 season.  The Tigers hold an 83-70 edge in the series, including a 51-23 mark and six straight wins in games played at Hays, Kan.

Last Year (vs. FHSU):  The Tigers posted 78-75 (Jan. 25, 2014, in Pittsburg) and 87-69 (Feb. 15, 2014, in Hays) victories over the Gorillas during the 2014 season.

James Fleming led four FHSU players in double figures with a game-high 20 points in the Feb. match-up at Hays. The Gorillas got a team-leading 19 points from Jake Bullard in that gmae.

Scouting the Gorillas
Pitt State has two players scoring in double figures on the season: sophomore guard Josiah Gustafson (16.7 ppg) and senior guard Devon Branch (14.5 ppg). Junior forward Lamine Dieng is averaging just under double figures on the year (9.5 ppg).

Branch (6-6, 180) is shooting 52.9 percent from the floor, converting 81 of 153 shots on the season. He's also contributing 4.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game. The Aberdeen, Md., native has led the Gorillas in scoring five times this season, helping the squad to a 4-1 record in those games.

Gustafson (6-6, 190) is shooting 49.2 percent from the field (93 of 189), including 23 of 56 (.411) from 3-point range. The Omaha, Neb., native also has made 58 of 73 (.795) free throw attempts. Gustafson, who ranks fifth in the MIAA in scoring, has scored 20 or more points six times this season, including a game-high 23 points in the Gorillas' last outing against Washburn.

Dieng made his Pitt State debut against West Texas A&M on Nov. 26. The Thies, Senegal native redshirted in 2013-14 and missed the Gorillas' first three games this season. He has averaged 9.5 points and a team-leading 5.3 rebounds thus far. Dieng (6-8, 240) had a season-best 18 points and nine rebounds vs. Newman (Dec. 2). He had 12 points and nine rebounds in his Pitt State debut vs. WTAMU (Nov. 26).

Freshman guard Dakota Jones (5-10, 165) contributes 7.2 points per game, while sophomore forward Trevor Gregory (6-7, 235) chips in with 6.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Junior guard Javis Flynn (5-10, 170) adds 6.1 points and a team-leading 4.9 assists and 2.1 steals per game.  Flynn dished out a PSU record 12 assists in the Gorillas' 59-58 win over Emporia State on Jan. 14. He leads the MIAA in steals and ranks second in the league in assists.

As a team, Pitt State has averaged 70.2 points per game, shooting 49.4 percent from the floor (397 of 804), 40.4 percent from 3-point range (82 of 203) and 69.9 percent from the free throw line (248 of 355).

The opposition has averaged 68.3 points per game and shot 45.3 percent from the field (317 of 700).

Pitt State Probable Starters
    F    20    Lamine Dieng, 6-8, 240, Jr., Thies, Senegal
    F    22    Denton Hays, 6-7, 215, Jr., Lee's Summit, Mo.
    G    3    Javis Flynn, 5-10, 170, Jr., Watonga, Okla.
    G    4    Josiah Gustafson, 6-6, 190, So., Omaha, Neb.
    G    5    Devon Branch, 6-6, 180, Sr., Aberdeen, Md.

Scouting the Lopers
Nebraska-Kearney has three players scoring in double figures – junior forward Ethan Brozek (18.3 ppg), junior forward Connor Bernarek (17.5 ppg)  and freshman forward Trey Lansman (10.0 ppg) – and two players scoring more than eight points a game – freshman guards Isaiah McKay (9.5 ppg) and Ty Danielson (8.6 ppg).

Brozek leads the MIAA in scoring and ranks second in the conference in rebounding (8.6 rpg). Bernarek, who was named the MIAA Player of the Week Monday (Jan. 19), ranks third in the league in scoring and rebounding (7.6 rpg).

As a team, UNK has averaged 78.0 points per game and shot 48.4 percent from the field.

UNK Probable Starters
    G    15    Isaiah McKay, 6-2, 170, Fr., Brooklyn Park, Minn.
    G    34    Ty Danielson, 6-3, 170, Fr., York, Neb.
    F    31    Trey Lansman, 6-7, 210, Fr., Harlan, Iowa
    F    32    Ethan Brozek, 6-7, 215, Jr., Norfolk, Neb.
    F    44    Connor Bernarek, 6-6, 190, Jr., Ravenna, Neb.

Scouting the Tigers
Fort Hays State has one active player scoring in double figures – junior forward Dom Samac (10.1 ppg) – and five players scoring more than seven points a game –  senior guard Royce Williams (9.8 ppg), senior guard Achoki Moikobu (9.8 ppg), junior forward Jeremy Wilson (7.7 ppg), junior forward Jake Stoppel (7.4 ppg) and senior guard James Fleming (7.2 ppg).

The Tigers are without the services of their leading scorer, junior guard Craig Nicholson (14.9 ppg). Nicholson suffered a leg injury in an 82-72 home win over Central Oklahoma on Jan. 15.

The Tigers are averaging 79.3 points per game and shooting 48.7 percent from the field on the season.

FHSU Probable Starters
    F    15    Jeremy Wilson, 6-6, 205, Jr., Wichita, Kan.
    F    21    Jake Stoppel, 6-5, 210, Jr., Wilson, Kan.
    G    1    Royce Williams, 6-5, 210, Sr., Oakland, Calif.
    G    2    Jame Fleming, 6-1, 175, Sr., Hanover Park, Ill.
    G    11    Achoki Moikobu, 6-1, 175, Sr., Seattle, Wash.
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