Men's Basketball: WVU to Battle Bears

  • By John Antonik
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  • December 22, 2011 10:47 AM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia coach Bob Huggins seeks win No. 700 when West Virginia takes on Missouri State tonight in the continuation of the Las Vegas Classic at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

Huggins got wins No. 698 and 699 in opening round games against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Tennessee Tech in Morgantown, but tonight’s clash against the Bears figures to be a much stiffer test for the Mountaineers, now 8-2.

Missouri State (7-3) has won three in a row, including a 13-point victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi earlier this week. The Bears jumped out to a 41-19 halftime lead and cruised to a 66-53 victory.

Senior Caleb Patterson scored 13 points and Kirk Christian came off the bench to also add 13, leading four double-figure scorers.

Patterson, a 6-11 center, shows averages of 12.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game while Kyle Weems, a 6-6 senior forward, leads Missouri State with averages of 14.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Weems is the reigning Missouri Valley Conference player of the year after averaging 16 points and 6.9 rebounds per game as a junior.

This year, Weems scored a season-high 24 points in a five-point loss to Oklahoma State and also added 22 points in games against Oral Roberts and Kennesaw State. Weems also leads the team with 15 3-point field goals.

Patterson scored a season-high 19 points in a win earlier this year against Tula and has reached double figures in points in seven of 10 games so far this season.

In the backcourt, Missouri State is expected to start 6-4 Nathan Scheer (3.4 ppg.), 6-1 Michael Bizoukas (5.7 ppg.) and 6-4 Jarmar Gulley (9.9 ppg.).

Gulley is shooting 54.3 percent from the floor and had a season-high 19 points in the loss to Oklahoma State.

Missouri State’s three losses this year have come against Oral Roberts (68-63), New Mexico (76-60) and Oklahoma State (72-67).

Coach Paul Lusk is in his first season with the Bears after having spent the last seven years on Matt Painter’s coaching staff at Purdue. Lusk also shows coaching stops at Southern Illinois, Dubuque (Iowa) where he went 2-23 in his only other season as a head coach, Missouri Southern and Southwestern Illinois.

West Virginia has now won four straight after dropping a 75-62 decision at No. 18 Mississippi State back on Dec. 3.

Senior forward Kevin Jones scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds during last Monday’s 19-point victory over Tennessee Tech and leads the Mountaineers in scoring (20.8 ppg.) and rebounding (11.3 rpg.).

Senior guard Truck Bryant is averaging 16.5 points per game and has made a team-best 20 3-point field goals, while junior forward Deniz Kilicli shows averages of 12.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

Those three have accounted for nearly 64 percent of West Virginia’s scoring this season.

Tipoff for tonight’s game is scheduled for 8 p.m. The contest can be seen nationally on ESPN3 (Joe Block and Steve Cleveland).

MSN’s radio coverage (Tony Caridi, Jay Jacobs and Kyle Wiggs) begins with the Coliseum Countdown at 7:30 p.m. Tune in to your favorite MSN affiliate to following tonight’s broadcast.

West Virginia will wrap up play in the Las Vegas Classic Friday night against sixth-ranked Baylor. That game will be televised nationally on ESPN.


Las Vegas Classic, West Virginia, Missouri State, Bob Huggins