Missouri Southern's Kinzer Lambert has some sound advice for his first-year teammates about the MIAA:
“I would just say every night,” he said, “no matter who you’re playing, if it’s the bottom or the top, you have to be ready mentally and physically every night or you’ll get beat.”
The No. 15-ranked Lions (5-1) open conference play tonight at 7:30 against Pittsburg State (4-1) at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
“I’m excited,” Lambert said. “A lot more energy ... the games will be closer, so that’s more fun. We have to bring it every game, no letups. Us and Northwest Missouri are the top two (teams) in people’s minds, but we have to go out and prove it.”
Coach Kim Anderson's Gorillas (4-1) have won four straight since a season-opening 73-62 loss to Upper Iowa in Kansas City. Three Gorillas average in double figures, led by Ray Elliott at 13.6 points per game.
“The only thing I’ve seen about Pittsburg State is a little bit in Kansas City,” Lions coach Jeff Boschee said. “It’s a whole different team than what they had last year. R.J.Lawrence has been playing well at point guard, and Ray Elliott can get hot from the 3 at any time. It’s nothing we can take for granted. Hopefully we learned our lesson at Truman State that we have to be both physically and mentally ready to go. If we do that, we’re a pretty good basketball team. If we don’t, we’re pretty average.”
The Lions bounced back from the 71-68 loss at Truman State with a 98-73 victory at Upper Iowa. The Lions rolled past Culver-Stockton 110-46 last Friday.
“I feel like we’ve played well offensively, but we haven’t shot the ball well, especially from the 3-point line." Boschee said. "Take away the Culver-Stockton game and Saint Mary’s game, we’re probably at 45, 46% overall (from the field). That has to get better. Defensively, I’m really happy where we’re at. We can always get better, and we have to be able to do it every game. ... We have to make sure we have the defense that showed up at Upper Iowa, not at Truman State.”
One positive from the Truman State game was backup center Ted Brown, who made 4-of-4 shots for eight points while Cam Martin sat on the bench in foul trouble.
“It wasn’t like he was just serviceable,” Boschee said. “He was actually scoring and doing a good job defensively on their big kid. When Cam went out, he was good for us, and we’re going to need that. He’s a lot more mobile this year, has trimmed down a little bit, a lot more mobile defensively as far as sliding his feet.”
Martin leads the Lions at 22.8 points per game, and Lambert is next at 12.8.
“I like that we’re all selfless,” Lambert said. “I think that’s really important. We have guys who can score, guys who can defend, guys who can pass. We have everything we need to make a run this year.
“My mentality has changed a little bit. It doesn’t matter how much I score as long as our team scores. If I need to score, then I need to score. But if I have zero points, and we win, it doesn’t matter to me.”
Mo. Southern (5-1, 0-0 MIAA)
C Cam Martin, 6-9 jr. 22.8
G Reggie Tharp, 6-0 sr. 6.8
G Braelon Walker, 6-0 sr. 6.5
G Kinzer Lambert, 6-4 sr. 12.8
G Elyjah Clark, 6-3 sr. 9.0
Pittsburg State (4-1, 0-0 MIAA)
F Xavier Womack, 6-7 jr. 8.7
F Antonio Givens II, 6-9 jr. 5.4
G Ray Elliott, 6-4 so. 13.6
G Marcel Cherry, 6-1 sr. 8.3
G R.J. Lawrence, 5-11 so. 11.4
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m.
Site: Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
Coaches: Jeff Boschee, 6th year at MSSU (106-64). Kim Anderson, 3rd year at PSU (38-27), 19-year career (339-189).
Series: MSSU leads 57-47 after winning two of three games last season, sweeping the two regular-season games but losing in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Tournament. The Lions are 37-14 at home against the Gorillas.
MSSU Radio: WMBH (1560 AM, 101.3 FM), KXMS (88.7 FM), 7:15 p.m.
PSU Radio: KSHQ (100.7 FM), KWXD (103.5 FM), 7:15 p.m.