During a dominating six-game winning streak, Missouri Southern has climbed to No. 10 in this week’s NCAA Division II men’s basketball poll conducted by the NABC.
The Lions have won the last six games by an average of 20 points, and in their smallest victory margin — 89-77 at Nebraska-Kearney on Jan. 6 — MSSU led 61-34 at halftime.
“I think a lot of has to do with our chemistry,” coach Jeff Boschee said. “The other day Coach (Jamahl) DePriest told me after the (Newman) game ‘your guys are so locked in at both ends of the floor.’
“I think that’s true. We’ve been playing hard. We’ve really been guarding people. I’ve always said when we guard, our offense becomes a lot better. We’ve been really focused, and I think our guys understand the limited amount of time most of them have left to get things accomplished.”
The MIAA-leading Lions (13-2, 6-0 MIAA) open a three-game road trip tonight at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
In contrast to the Lions’ lopsided victories, the Blue Tigers (6-8, 3-2) have won two of their last three games in overtime — 74-72 at Newman on Jan. 4 and 88-84 at home against Central Missouri last Saturday. In between, Lincoln lost at Central Oklahoma 79-65.
“They are coming off a good win against Central Missouri, and they have Jonell Burton back, who was really good for them last year,” Boschee said. “They are really good on the perimeter. Bansi King can really shoot the basketball.”
Burton, who missed two games before returning against the Mules, averages a team-high 15.8 points and poured in 40 points in an overtime loss to Harris-Stowe. King, a freshman from Lawrence, Kansas, has hit at least four 3-pointers in the last three games to raise his average to 8.6 points, and Lamont Burton tallied 18 points to lead the Tigers against UCM, including a late 3-pointer to help force overtime.
Missouri Southern will hold an advantage on the inside in both size and depth with 6-foot-9 Cam Martin, 6-10 Ted Brown and 6-5 Christian Bundy. Martin ranks second in the conference in points (21.3) and rebounds (9.0). Off the bench Brown averages 3.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 7.4 minutes and Bundy adds 2.6 points and rebounds in 11.2 minutes.
“We have to definitely take advantage inside,” Boschee said. “It will be important for us to pound it inside like every game and try to get them in foul trouble. I expect some different defenses, too, to try to combat their size disadvantage.”
Lincoln is looking for a 4-1 start in its home schedule for the third consecutive season and its first victory over a nationally ranked team since last season’s 90-83 home victory over No. 20 Missouri Southern on Jan. 5, 2019.
“Overall they are a tough-minded team,” Boschee said. “Coach (John) Moseley does a great job with those guys, especially at home.”
BEVO FRANCIS WATCH
Lions junior center Cam Martin is one of 100 players selected to the Bevo Francis Small College Player of the Year watch list, it was announced Wednesday.
It’s the second straight year that Martin is on the list, which will be cut to 50 players on Feb. 15, 25 players on March 15 and the finalists in early April.
There are three more MIAA players on the list — Northwest Missouri’s Diego Bernard, Ryan Hawkins and Trevor Hudgins.
Mo. Southern (13-2, 6-0 MIAA)
C Cam Martin, 6-9 jr.21.3
G Reggie Tharp, 6-0 sr.9.2
G Braelon Walker, 6-0 sr.9.0
G Kinzer Lambert, 6-4 sr.12.6
G Elyjah Clark, 6-3 sr.12.2
Lincoln (6-8, 3-2 MIAA)
F L’Kielynn Taylor, 6-6 sr.4.5
F Jordan Notch, 6-8 jr.6.2
G Cameron Potts, 6-1 jr.12.6
G Bansi King, 6-3 fr.8.6
G Marcel Burton, 6-4 sr.10.7
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m.
Site: Jason Gymnasium, Jefferson City
Last game: MSSU 79, Newman 55; LU 88, Central Missouri 84, OT
Coaches: Jeff Boschee, 6th year at MSSU (114-55). John Moseley, 6th year at LU (76-85).
Series: MSSU leads 28-11after Lincoln’s 90-83 home victory last season. The Lions are 14-5 on the road against the Blue Tigers.
Radio: WMBH (1560 AM, 101.3 FM), KXMS (88.7 FM), 7:15 p.m.