SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - With just six games remaining on the 2011-12 conference slate, Missouri State takes to the road Saturday (7:05 p.m.) to battle the Drake Bulldogs in a pivotal Valley contest. Both teams are part of a four-team log jam (with Illinois State and Evansville) in a third-place tie in the MVC standings. Two more teams, Northern Iowa and Indiana State, sit at 5-7 headed into this weekend's action with just one game separating third and eighth place in the ever-competitive Valley race.
Playing once again without the services of the injured Caleb Patterson (Sr., C, Ames, Okla.), the Bears were undersized against Wichita State on Wednesday at JQH Arena. Shockers' big man Garrett Stutz took advantage of the situation, scoring 25 points and gathering 11 rebounds to lead WSU to a 74-67 victory. The Bears, who led 36-34 at the half, had four players in double figures, including 21 points by Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) who knocked down 5 three-pointers, and 14 by Jarmar Gulley (Jr., G/F, Beaumont, Texas). Keith Pickens (So., G, St. Louis) also scored a career-high 12 off the bench for the Bears.
Drake has not won a game in regulation since Jan. 15 and has dropped 3-of-4 overall headed into the weekend. Four days after knocking of WSU in triple overtime, the Bulldogs shot just 33.3 percent from the field in a 61-54 loss at Indiana State on Wednesday. Rayvonte Rice scored 17 points and had 5 assists to lead DU, while Ben Simons added 13 points and 3 steals.
COACH Paul Lusk: