On Thursday night No. 1-ranked Northwest Missouri State pulled away during the second half for a 96-75 victory over Missouri Southern, extending the Bearcats' winning streak to 15 games.
Today the No. 14 Lions battle the MIAA's second-hottest team as Missouri Western invades the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center for a 3:30 p.m. tipoff.
The Griffons (14-11, 10-4 MIAA) registered their seventh consecutive victory with a 95-79 triumph on Wednesday night at Pittsburg State. Missouri Western has already has the most victories this season since the 2009-10 team finished 18-12, 12-8 in league play and qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
Missouri Western is fourth in the league standings, one game behind second place Missouri Southern (18-5, 11-3) and one-half game behind Rogers State, which entertains Washburn today.
Reese Glover, averaging 9.3 points for the season, led the Griffons with 19 points off the bench, and he tallied 26 in an 80-84 home victory over Central Missouri one week ago.
Tyrell Carroll and Tyus Millhollin lead the Griffons at 16.7 and 15.0 points per game, respectively, and Will Eames adds 11.7 points and 7.5 rebounds. Millhollin leads the conference with 79 3-point goals, one more than Northwest Missouri's Trevor Hudgins after Hudgins made seven against the Lions. Carroll also is second in the league in assists (6.0) and steals (2.1).
"They've won seven in a row and just beat Pittsburg State pretty handily," Lions coach Jeff Boschee said. "They are playing with a lot of confidence. They are believing. They've been down at the bottom for quite a while and missed out on the MIAA Tournament by a game. They are playing hungry. Everybody is coming back from last year.
"Tyus Millhollin can really shoot it. Tyrell Carroll is one of the better point guards in the league. Tyree Martin (6-foot-8 sophomore) is a a load down inside. We better not let this (loss to Northwest Missouri) boil over into Saturday."
The Lions, who saw a 26-game homecourt winning streak end one week ago against Rogers State, have suffered back-to-back home losses for the first time since losing to Lindenwood 84-77 in overtime and Lincoln 75-72 in mid-January 2017.
The Lions shot 61 % against the Bearcats but were outscored 44-34 on points in the paint, 20-2 in points off turnovers and 13-3 in second-chance points. The Lions, who lead the conference with a 6.8 rebounding advantage, were outrebounded 30-20 — their fewest boards since they had 16 in a 57-55 loss at West Texas A&M on Nov. 23, 2012.
Cam Martin had 29 points to lead the Lions, followed by Elyjah Clark with 18 and Kinzer Lambert with 14.
"Missouri Western has been playing really well," Clark said. "Hey, but this is what you signed up to play college basketball for, to play in these big games. We have to get ready for the game Saturday and don't let (Thursday night's) game affect us going into Saturday.
"We have to come back and do it for our fans. They've been supporting us, and we can't let them down twice."
Mo. Southern (18-5, 11-3 MIAA)
C Cam Martin, 6-9 jr. 22.3
G Reggie Tharp, 6-0 sr. 7.9
G Braelon Walker, 6-0 sr. 8.9
G Kinzer Lambert, 6-4 sr. 12.7
G Elyjah Clark, 6-3 sr. 12.6
Mo. Western (14-11, 10-4 MIAA)
F Tyree Martin, 6-8 so. 6.6
F Beau Baker, 6-4 sr. 5.0
F Will Eames, 6-7 fr. 11.7
G Tyrell Carroll, 5-11 so. 16.7
G Tyus Millhollin, 6-0 sr. 15.0
Tipoff: 3:30 p.m.
Site: Leggett & Platt Athletic Center
Coaches: Jeff Boschee, 6th year at MSSU (119-58). Sundance Wicks, 2nd year at MWSU (26-29).
Series: MSSU leads 51-44 and has won the last four meetings. The Lions are 37-11 at home against the Griffons.
Radio: WMBH (1560 AM, 101.3 FM), KSEK (1340 AM, 107.9 FM), KXMS (88.7 FM), 3:15 p.m.