As the MIAA basketball opener approaches, both Missouri Southern basketball teams are on a roll.
The Lions tip off conference play later this week with home games against Nebraska-Kearney on Thursday night and Washburn on Saturday afternoon. The women’s game begins both sessions at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. Saturday.
For the first time in school history, Missouri Southern’s men (5-1) have reached the century mark in three consecutive games. The Lions’ current three-game winning streak consists of victories over Avila 108-67 and Bethany (Kan.) 112-74 in last month’s Pittsburg State Classic and Ottawa 101-75 last Saturday at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
The Lions have scored at least 100 points in consecutive games several times through the years, and they cracked 100 four times in a six-game stretch in the 1985-86 season.
Missouri Southern’s women (5-1) are riding a five-game winning streak after registering two lopsided road victories last week — 84-54 against Northwestern Oklahoma State and 82-56 against Rockhurst in Kansas City.
It had been almost 11 years to the day since the Lions had won back-to-back games against NCAA Division II opponents by at least 25 points. In the Pizza Hut/Fairfield Inn Classic on Nov. 29-30, 2002, the Lions decked Lincoln 81-44 and Southeastern Oklahoma State 79-47.
Checking the standings
Fort Hays State, the favorite in the preseason polls, and Washburn are both 7-0 and the only unbeaten men’s teams entering conference play.
Central Missouri and Central Oklahoma are both 6-1, one-half game better than the Lions. Northeastern State and Southwest Baptist are both 5-2.
The women’s field also has two undefeated teams — Emporia State at 7-0 and Fort Hays State at 5-0.
Central Missouri (6-1) and the Lions are the only one-loss teams, and Central Oklahoma, Lindenwood, Missouri Western, Washburn and Southwest Baptist all have two losses.
Other MIAA openers on Thursday night have Pittsburg State at Northwest Missouri State, Central Oklahoma at Lindenwood, Washburn at Southwest Baptist, Fort Hays State at Central Missouri and Northeastern State at Lincoln.
Missouri Western begins its league schedule Saturday afternoon at home against Fort Hays State. Emporia State’s league opener is Saturday night at Northwest Missouri to complete a busy sports day in Maryville that starts with the Bearcats’ football playoff game against St. Cloud State.
This year’s conference schedule consists of 19 games. The seven Missouri schools play each other twice and the seven non-Missouri schools once. The seven schools outside the Missouri borders will play a home-and-home series against each other.