By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
With one month left in the MIAA men’s basketball race, Missouri Southern is looking for consistency.
“We’ve had guys step up and play well in given games, but they’re not doing it game after game,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. If you have a guy who goes 10-for-10 in one game and 0-for-10 in the next, and you have another guy who goes 5-for-10 in both games, which one do you want? I want the guy who goes 5-for-10 because you know what you’re going to get game to game.
“That’s the puzzling part of our team. We’re not getting consistent play game in and game out.”
The Lions (9-10, 4-7 MIAA) have lost their last five games, their longest skid since losing six straight in February 2007. After two road games last week, the Lions are back at home for two games this week, starting tonight against Southwest Baptist.
In contrast to the Lions, Southwest Baptist (7-12, 5-6) lost its first three league games but has won five of eight since.
“They are playing with a lot more confidence right now,” Corn said. “We have to do a good job with ball screens and do a good job of keeping the ball in front of us. We can’t get beat off penetration and give them wide open looks at the basket. It will be a challenge for our defense. You have to play well defensively to give yourself a chance to win, and hopefully we can find the basket on our end.”
The Lions have struggled offensively during their skid, scoring less than 70 points and shooting below 45 percent in all five games.
“We’ve found the basket but not found the bottom of the net,” Corn said with a chuckle. “For the most part our shot selection has been pretty good. We’ve gotten the ball inside but haven’t finished. Too many times we’ve gone around people and not through people. We’ve had good looks on the perimeter but not knocking them down. There are times we have forced things but for the most part I’ve been pleased with the shot selection.”
Blaine Miller, 6-foot-7 freshman, will make his first start for the Lions tonight. He made 5-of-10 shots and had 11 points and four rebounds in 23 minutes in the Lions’ 83-69 loss Saturday at Fort Hays State.
“He was a bright spot,” Corn said. “He was active. He played with good strength. He went in and played well and has a bounce in his step, so we’ll go with him.”
Junior guard Marquis Addison averages 17.4 points and leads the Lions with 43 steals.
Junior forward Jordan Talbert averages 12.9 points, and he leads the club with 7.7 rebounds and 36 blocked shots.
Sophomore guard R.J. Leverette has dished out 62 assists, and Addison, Talbert and junior Matt Everson all have at least 40 assists.