Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern men's basketball team will head to Pittsburg Wednesday night to take on the Gorillas of Pittsburg State in a Sonic Trophy Series matchup inside John Lance Arena.
The Lions' Last Time Out (12-12, 7-9 MIAA): A three pointer from Austin Wright with 11:47 left in the second half, gave the Lions a 52-50 lead that they would not relinquish as Missouri Southern defeated visiting Central Oklahoma, 85-77 tonight and qualified for the 2013 MIAA Basketball Tournament. Southern (12-12, 7-9 MIAA) was led offensively by 23 points and a career-high 13 rebounds from Marquis Addison. He shot 14-17 from the free-throw line. Austin Wright scored 16 points and Blaine Miller added 13. Central Oklahoma (12-12, 10-6 MIAA) had five score in double-figures led by 19 points from Jamell Cormier. The Bronchos took a 40-37 lead into the locker room and led by six (46-40) after a jumper from June Carter with 15:55 left in the game. The Lions, however, cut the lead to one (50-49) after a layup from Addison with 12:42 left in the game and went ahead on the three from Wright with 11:47 to go. The Lions were 33-50 from the free-throw line as 58 fouls were called between the two teams. Southern held a 33-20 advantage in bench scoring and scored 21 points off of 15 Broncho turnovers.
The Gorillas' Last Time Out (15-9, 8-8 MIAA): The PIttsburg State men's basketball team fell 92-76 to Central Oklahoma on Saturday (Feb. 23) afternoon at Hamilton Fieldhouse.Pitt State shot 55.3 percent for the game, including 53.3 percent from three-point range, but 16 turnovers to just six for the Bronchos made a big difference in the game. Jake Bullard led the Gorillas with 19 points. He was 7-of-8 from the floor. Kaleb Porter also scored in double figures with 17.The Bronchos Josh Gibbs led all players with 23 points. Christian Huffman (17), Spencer Smith (13), June Carter (10) and Jamell Cormier (10) also scored in double figures.
The Coaches: In his 24th season as head coach at Missouri Southern, Robert Corn has guided the Lions to 20 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Postseason Tournament berths (15 straight) and four trips to the NCAA Division II Tournament. The 1999-00 Division II Bulletin National Coach of the Year, he holds a career record of 387-294 (.570) at Southern, and is the winningest head coach in Lions basketball history. A 1978 graduate of Southern, he has led Southern to eight 20-win seasons. His 1999-2000 team went 30-3 and advanced to the NCAA-II Elite Eight semifinals. Corn is fifth on the all-time MIAA wins list and third among active MIAA coaches. He is a three-time MIAA Coach of the Year winner, including a unanimous selection in 2010-11.
Pittsburg State's Kevin Muff is in his third season leading the Gorillas. Muff 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 was 17-14 last season at PSU and is 47-35 overall as a collegiate head coach.
The Series: The Lions lead 48-43 in the all-time series with 18 wins in their last 30 tries vs. the Gorillas. The Lions and Gorillas have split the sereis past five seasons. The series now has some extra bragging rights as the two schools will be vying for the Sonic Trophy as part as the Sonic Trophy Series that pitts the two athletic departments against each other in a total points series. The Lions are 32-13 at home all-time vs. the Gorillas with wins in nine of the last 12 home meetings. Southern is 14-29 at Pittsburg. Fourteen of the last 25 games between the two border rivals have been decided by seven points or less.