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Drew Wilson Gets Set To Tip Off MSU Bears Season As Nathan Scheer Looks On
The MSU Bears rolled to a season opening 89-61 win over Philander Smith University Friday night at JQH Arena in Springfield.
The win marks the tenth straight home opening victory for the Bears, who played in front of a crowd of 5,888.
After four lead changes early in the first half, the Bears pulled away, scoring 29 of the half's final 41 points to go up 45-28 at the intermission.
Missouri State scored the first four points of the second half, completing a 15-0 run. Christian Kirk's layup with 17:03 to play gave the Bears a 57-32 lead, and Paul Lusk's team never looked back.
Freshman Gavin Thurman scored 19 points off the bench to lead the Bears. Fellow freshman Marcus Marshall put in 16, Christian Kirk had 14, and Drew Wilson and Anthony Downing had 12 points each. Wilson, playing in his first collegiate game, had a double-double with 11 rebounds to go with the dozen points.
Alex Nance was the leading scorer for the Panthers, with all 11 of his points coming from the free throw line (11-12). Clayton Busby put in ten for the visitors.
The Bears outrebounded the Panthers 44-29 and had 23 assists, eight of those from redshirt freshman Dorrian Williams. MSU shot 48.5% from the floor (32-66) and 76% from the free throw line (16-21). Philander Smith went only 17-52 (32.7%) from the field but 22-26 (84.6%) from the charity stripe. The Bears turned the ball over ten times.
Kirk says at times, the Bears got out of their game, but did a good job of keeping control. "I think they tried to speed us up," Kirk said. "They kind of took us into a crazy game, but I think we played really well. We rebounded really well. Drew got 11 boards so that's awesome."
And what about those three slam dunks for Kirk that really got the crowd into the game? "They felt good," Kirk said. "It's hard to get dunks in the college game, so any time you can get them it feels good."
Wilson says it was a memorable night for him. "It was a great feeling. I think as a team we came out strong and we handled the pressure really well. We've got to keep progressing and get ready for next week."
Marshall says he felt good on the floor, hitting a three pointer and going 9-10 from the free throw line, but he downplayed his offensive performance. "The offense comes second. It's all about defending. Defense wins games so my main focus is defense."
Bears Head Coach Paul Lusk says early on, he told the guys "You're playing like your hair's on fire," but the flames were quickly put out as his youngsters settled down. "With so many new faces and all of that inexperience, I still thought we settled in and found some rhythm. And they didn't panic. It was good."
Lusk says the biggest surprise for him is that he thought his team would be a little better early on in the contest. "But I don't think anything can surprise us when you have this much youth. Gavin is such a skilled offensive kid that you need him out there when teams are zoning because he is our skilled four-man. Andrew Wilson is not a skilled four-man. He has to do what he can do."
Lusk's team now has a week to get ready for 20th ranked San Diego State. The coach says the Aztecs is not only a very good basketball team, but a very experienced and talented team, one of the best in the country.
The Aztecs will be at JQH Arena on Saturday, November 17th. Tipoff is 1:05 p.m.
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