By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Coming off their lowest-scoring game of the season, Missouri Southern begins a rugged two-game road trip tonight at No. 21-ranked Washburn.
The Lions (9-8, 4-5 MIAA) have lost three straight games to fall into a tie for ninth place in the league standings. Washburn, the preseason favorite, is 12-4 overall and 5-3 in league play, good for fourth place entering this week’s action.
The Lions, averaging 71.1 points per game and 74.4 points in league games, have scored 66, 62 and 54 points in their last three games.
“You look at our last three games, we haven’t shot the ball well enough to give us a chance to win any of them,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “We shot 40 percent against Nebraska-Kearney, 44 percent against Emporia State and 31 percent against Northeastern State.
“You can live with 44 percent shooting if you do a good job on defense, but the other teams have shot the ball against us. Plus we haven’t been doing a good job on the boards.”
Corn will be starting his third different lineup in as many games as Stephen Atkinson returns to the lineup and sophomore guard Cameron Cornelius gets his first start of the season.
Cornelius was a bright spot in Saturday’s 73-54 home loss to Northeastern State with a season-high 14 points, including 8-of-10 at the foul line.
“We like his physical size and his ability to get to the basket and get to the free-throw line,” Corn said. “With the way we’re struggling to score points, we have to have guys who give us the best chance of putting points on the board.”
Tonight’s game includes two of the league’s top scorers — Lions junior guard Marquis Addison at 17.8 points per game and Ichabods senior guard Will McNeill at 18.9 points.
“McNeill is a really good player, one of the best players in the conference,” Corn said. “No doubt we have to do a good job on him.
“(Martin) Mitchell is having a nice year, too (14.5 points per game). Bobby Chipman (senior forward) has really improved his game (9.5 points, 7.5 rebounds) since he’s been there.
“We have to find a way to match their physicality. They have always liked to go inside and post their perimeter guys. Obviously with McNeill’s size and his strength, they look to post him up. They haven’t shot the ball really well from the perimeter, but they do a great job of spreading the floor and taking you off dribble penetration.”