It had been a long time since Missouri Southern swept a road trip to Fort Hays State and Nebraska-Kearney.
Well, Robert Corn, the winningest coach in MSSU history who now has his name on the court inside the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center, was a senior starter for the Lions.
The last time — and only other time — came in the final weekend of February 1978 when the Lions prevailed on Friday night at Fort Hays State 88-87 and Saturday night at then Kearney State 81-79 to wrap up a CSIC championship. The Lions finished 13-1 in league play and 27-9 overall, losing in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Tournament at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City.
This year’s Lions won much more comfortably, 85-67 at Fort Hays State and 89-77 at Nebraska-Kearney after leading 61-34 at halftime.
“The fact of the long bus drives, and historically they’ve always been tough places to play — for everybody,” Lions coach Jeff Boschee said. “There’s a lot of sitting around in hotels, but give our guys a lot of credit. They came locked in and focused. Before the Kearney game I challenged them to duplicate what they did at Hays but do it better. The first half they did it. The second half was probably our worst basketball of the year, but sometimes when you’re up 30 points, it’s hard to keep that concentration level up.”
The Lions, up six spots to No. 12 in the new Division II poll, are back at home for two games this week, starting tonight against Central Oklahoma.
The Lions (11-2, 4-0) are the only undefeated team in league play, and four teams have one loss. The Lions average 89.1 points — 20 more than their opponents — and are shooting 51 % from the field, 40 % from the 3-point arc and 72 % at the foul line.
The Bronchos (6-8, 3-2) also swept their last two games, winning at home over Central Missouri 77-51 and Lincoln 79-65. UCO averages 70.7 points, almost three more than their opponents, and is hitting 45 % from the floor, 31 % from 3 and 75 % at the line.
“I think they are better than what their record indicates,” Boschee said. “I think they’ve growing pains with getting a new coach, a new system the first part of the year. Now they are playing a lot better, and beating Central Missouri the way they did and a pretty good win against Lincoln.
“They are pretty athletic. They switch it up defensively. Their defensive field goal percentage is around 42 percent, so that’s going to be an issue. Obviously they have some guys who can score inside. They have some length inside with the big freshman (6-foot-10 D.J. Basey). It’s definitely going to be a challenge in making sure we continue to play our game with their mixing defenses.”
Bob Hoffman is the Bronchos’ new coach, and he’s won more than 600 victories combined in high school, NAIA, NCAA Division I and the NBA Development League.
Hoffman won 209 games in the previous 11 seasons at NCAA Division I Mercer, highlighted by a 78-71 victory over third-seeded Duke in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Mo. Southern (11-2, 4-0 MIAA)
C Cam Martin, 6-9 jr.21.6
G Reggie Tharp, 6-0 sr.9.5
G Braelon Walker, 6-0 sr.9.5
G Kinzer Lambert, 6-4 sr.13.2
G Elyjah Clark, 6-3 sr.11.5
Cent. Oklahoma (6-8, 3-2 MIAA)
F Justin Nimmer, 6-6 fr.6.1
F Dashawn McDowell, 6-5 jr.13.3
F D.J. Basey, 6-10 fr.7.1
F Cam Givens, 6-6 so.8.8
G Dashon Bell, 6-1 sr.9.1
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m.
Site: Leggett & Platt Athletic Center
Last game: MSSU 89, Nebraska-Kearney 77; UCO 79, Lincoln 65
Coaches: Jeff Boschee, 6th year at MSSU (112-55). Bob Hoffman, 1st year at UCO (6-8), career (613-344).
Series: MSSU leads 10-4 after sweeping last season, 96-68 at home and 104-82 in Edmond. The Lions are 5-2 at home against the Bronchos.
Radio: WMBH (1560 AM, 101.3 FM), KXMS (88.7 FM), 7:15 p.m.