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Gorillas Open Four-Game Homestand Against Lopers, Tigers - KOAM TV 7

Gorillas Open Four-Game Homestand Against Lopers, Tigers

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___PittsburgStateGorillasLOGOPSU ___PittsburgStateGorillasLOGOPSU
Press Release PSU:


The Pittsburg State University men's basketball team will open a four-game home stand Thursday (Feb. 12) when the Gorillas host MIAA rival University of Nebraska-Kearney at John Lance Arena.


The Gorillas and Lopers will meet at 7:30 p.m. (CST).

Pitt State will close out the week with a Saturday (Feb. 14) matinee against Fort Hays State University at 3:30 p.m.

The Records
Pitt State is 13-8 overall, 9-4 in the MIAA and alone in fourth place in the conference standings – a half-game behind a trio of co-leaders atop the league. The Gorillas had a three-game winning streak snapped in an 82-65 road loss to the University of Central Oklahoma last Saturday (Feb. 7).
UNK is 14-7 overall, 9-5 in the MIAA and fifth in the conference standings. The Lopers claimed an 85-78 win over Washburn University their last time out on Feb. 7.

FHSU is 15-8 overall, 8-6 in the MIAA and tied for seventh place in the conference standings (with UCO). The Tigers have won two straight including a 73-66 victory over Emporia State University on Feb. 7.

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 69-63 (.523) record in his tenure with the Gorillas.  This will be his fifth meeting vs. UNK. He has a 1-3 record vs. the Lopers. Muff is 2-6 vs. FHSU.

Series History
Pitt State and UNK will meet for the 35th time Thursday in a series that dates back to the 1968 season.  The Lopers hold a 27-7 advantage in the series, including an 11-6 mark in games played in Pittsburg.

Last Time Out (vs. UNK):  Pitt State lost a physical battle, 68-64, to UNK on the road  Jan. 22.

Despite trailing by 10 with just under three minutes left, the Gorillas were able to mount a late comeback with a 7-0 run and trailed by just three with 19 seconds left. The final two Pitt State 3-point attempts fell short and the Lopers were able to make a free throw for the final four-point margin.

Devon Branch led the Gorillas with 22 points. Josiah Gustafson added 13 points. Lamine Dieng was just short of a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Pitt State and FHSU will meet for the 155th time Saturday in a series that dates all the way back to the 1917 season.  The Tigers hold an 83-71 edge in the series, but the Gorilla are 47-30 vs. FHSU in Pittsburg.

Last Time Out (vs. FHSU):  The Gorillas played strong defense for most of the game and hit crucial free throws down the stretch, leading to a 69-64 win over the Tigers on Jan. 24.

Pitt State was led by Josiah Gustafson with 15 points, including a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe. Connor Kjer added 12, including three threes, and Devon Branch had 11.

Scouting the Gorillas
Pitt State has two players scoring in double figures on the season: sophomore guard Josiah Gustafson (16.3 ppg) and senior guard Devon Branch (14.5 ppg). Junior forward Lamine Dieng is averaging just under double figures on the year (8.8 ppg).

Branch (6-6, 180) is shooting 53.0 percent from the floor. The Aberdeen, Md., native also is contributing 4.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game.

Gustafson (6-6, 190) is shooting 46.4 percent from the field (110 of 237), including 32 of 77 (.416) from 3-point range. The Omaha, Neb., native also has made 90 of 108 (.833) free throw attempts – ranking fifth in the MIAA in free throw percentage. Gustafson, who ranks fifth in the MIAA in scoring, has scored 20 or more points seven times this season.

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 8.8 points and a team-leading 5.0 rebounds thus far.

Junior guard Trey Starks (6-0, 190) made his season debut last Saturday vs. UCO, scoring a team-leading 13 points. Starks, a Springfield, Mo., native, transferred to Pitt State and joined the Gorillas at the semester.

Freshman guard Dakota Jones (5-10, 165) contributes 7.3 points per game, while sophomore forward Trevor Gregory (6-7, 235) chips in with 6.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Junior guard Javis Flynn (5-10, 170) adds 6.7 points and a team-leading 5.0 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 assists and ranks second in steals.

As a team, Pitt State has averaged 70.3 points per game, shooting 47.8 percent from the floor (499 of 1044), 40.1 percent from 3-point range (110 of 274) and 72.3 percent from the free throw line (368 of 509).

The opposition has averaged 66.4 points per game and shot 44.6 percent from the field (458 of 1026).

Pitt State Probable Starters
    F    24    Trevor Gregory, 6-7, 235, So., Lee's Summit, Mo.
    F    33    Connor Kjer, 6-6, 218, Sr., La Habra, Calif.
    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 Connor Bernarek (19.6 ppg), junior forward Ethan Brozek (17.3 ppg) and freshman forward Trey Lansman (11.4 ppg) – and one player scoring more than eight nine points a game – freshman guard Isaiah McKay (9.3 ppg).

Bernarek leads the MIAA in scoring and ranks third in the conference in rebounding (7.6 rpg), while Brozek ranks second in the MIAA in scoring (17.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.5 rpg).

As a team, UNK has averaged 79.0 points per game and shot 49.4 percent from the field.

UNK Probable Starters
    G    15    Isaiah McKay, 6-2, 170, Fr., Brooklyn Park, Minn.
    G    24    Kevin Dineen, 6-1, 180, So., Omaha, 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 three players scoring in double figures – junior forward Dom Samac (10.8 ppg), senior guard Royce Williams (9.8 ppg) and senior guard Achoki Moikobu (9.8 ppg) – and three players scoring more than seven points a game – senior guard James Fleming (9.0 ppg), junior forward Jeremy Wilson (7.5 ppg) and junior forward Jake Stoppel (7.2 ppg).

Samac, the reining MIAA Player of the Week also leads the squad in field goal percentage (.600, 108-180), while Stoppel leads the team in rebounding (5.3 rpg).

The Tigers are averaging 77.7 points per game and shooting 49.0 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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