The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 8, 2014

Southern men intend to put first MIAA loss in rearview mirror

Missouri Southern and Central Oklahoma — two teams coming off contrasting performances — clash tonight in a key MIAA men’s basketball game.

Tipoff is at 7:30 as the Bronchos celebrate the 49th anniversary for Hamilton Field House. UCO opened the building on Jan. 8, 1965, with a 64-52 victory over Northeastern State. The Bronchos, who begin a four-game homestand tonight, are 5-1 at home this season and 87-13 in their last 100 home appearances.

The Lions (9-2, 3-1 MIAA) suffered their first conference loss with a 76-67 home setback on Saturday afternoon against Fort Hays State.

The Lions, who saw a five-point first-half lead become a five-point halftime deficit they never overcame, posted their lowest point total of the season since a 61-54 season-opening win over St. Mary’s (Texas) in Las Vegas. The Lions also matched their season low for field goals (19) and shot a season-worst 38.8 percent from the floor.

“It’s a setback, but we can’t hang our heads on it,” junior guard Cameron Cornelius said. “We have two on the road (this) week. We won’t let this one mess up the whole conference for us. Our plan is to go out and get every one that we need, no matter who we play. That’s what we have to do.”

“It’s going to be a two-month grind from this point on,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “You can’t dwell on what’s happened in the past because you have one right around the corner in front of you. We have to make sure we get better, have two good days of preparation for Central Oklahoma, and go down there and play well.”

Central Oklahoma (9-3, 3-2) prevailed 81-77 last Saturday at Northwest Missouri State, handing the Bearcats their first league loss.

Josh Gibbs, 6-foot-5, 235-pound senior forward from Raytown, scored a career-high 30 points against the Bearcats, grabbed 14 rebounds and dished out six assists to tie his career best. Gibbs, the MIAA player of the week for the third time this season, has registered a double-double in every game this season, leading the nation in rebounds (13.5) and ranking third in the conference scoring race (22.1).

The Bronchos, who have lost league games at home to Central Missouri 72-70 and at Lindenwood 88-77, average 84.4 points and allow 77.3.

The Lions have scored 87.4 points and given up 70.0. But they shot only 33 percent from the field in the second half in their last game, and only two of the nine field goals came from the perimeter.

“We played in a little panic mode and tried to take everything to the basket ... lower our head and throw it up there,” Corn said. “We didn’t go in under control. We went in trying to draw a foul rather than trying to make a basket. When you do that and don’t get the call, then you’ve fired up a bad shot and the other team can do something with it.”

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