MSU Bears Win Wild Game 96-93 In Home Opener At JQH Arena
Ron Mvouika drives to the bucket for Missouri State against Tulsa's D'Andre Wright during Saturday's home opener for the Bears at JQH Arena. MSU won the game 96-93. Image by Chase Snider / KTTS News
The MSU Bears set JQH Arena records for free throws made and attempted, and pulled out a wild 96-93 win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in their home opener.
The Bears hit 33 of 49 attempts from the foul line as Tulsa committed 34 fouls, also an arena record.
The whistle seemed to be blowing constantly, as officials enforce a new NCAA rule against hand-checking.
Tulsa jumped out to an early advantage, but the Bears took their first lead of the night when Marcus Marshall hit a three pointer with 13:19 left in the first half to put his team ahead 11-9.
The lead changed hands six times in the first half, and the Golden Hurricane carried a four point lead, 43-39, into the locker room at halftime.
When D'Andre Wright drained a three pointer with 18:21 left in regulation, Tulsa had its largest lead of the night, 51-41.
But the Bears immediately answered with a three from 6'8 forward Emmanuel Addo to pull within seven, 51-44.
Freshman Austin Ruder from Nixa connected on his second three pointer of the night with 16:12 remaining, pulling the Bears within three, 52-49.
Tulsa maintained its lead for the next ten minutes, but couldn't manage to pull away.
When Jarmar Gulley connected on a jumper with 6:20 to play, the Bears had their first lead since midway through the first half, 74-72.
The Golden Hurricane took a brief lead, 76-74 on a dunk by James Woodard, with 6:00 remaining, but Dorrian Williams, having his best offensive performance as a Bear, hit a shot with 5:48 on the clock, was fouled, and made a free throw to put his team ahead 77-76.
Missouri State would never be caught, hitting some big free throws down the stretch.
When Rashad Smith got a tip-in with 13.3 seconds left, Tulsa pulled within a point, 94-93, but Gulley hit one of two from the line with 12.4 seconds remaining to put the Bears up 95-93.
Shaquille Harrison missed a potential game-tying bucket with three seconds left, and Gulley secured the rebound.
Gulley again missed one, made one from the line with 2.1 seconds on the clock, but Wright's desperation attempt at the buzzer missed, and the opening night crowd of 6,236 celebrated.
Williams had a career high 20 points to lead four Bears in double figure scoring as Missouri State improves to 2-0 on the season. Gulley put in 15 points, Keith Pickens 13 and Marshall 12.
"It was a good night for me, but it was because my team believed in me," Williams said. "I just try to go out there and help my team win. At the end of the day, that's what it's about."
Williams, who hit eight of nine attempts from the free throw line, says making your shots from the charity stripe is as important as ever. "Especially with how they're calling the game now, getting to the basket with little ticky-tack fouls being called. Being able to make free throws is key, and it's kind of what helped us down the stretch."
Pickens says he understands why fans don't like all the fouls being called. "But I think they call it both ways, and make it a fair game. I don't think it's one-sided. That's what the NCAA wants, then you've got to go with it."
Tulsa, led by Harrison's 21 points and 19 from Smith, drops to 0-2.
"The game is really different, and we're still adjusting to it," MSU Head Coach Paul Lusk said in his postgame press conference. "I like our aggressiveness offensively, but we're giving up way too many and ones, and we have to change that. But outstanding effort by our guys."
And how different is the game with the new rule? Does it exceed the coach's expectations? "Wow," Lusk said. "I think it is. You have to adjust to it."
"You're going to need everybody," Lusk said. "You're going to need different combinations. You're going to have to be able to play different ways, and although we had to play different ways, and we had a different lineup there, the one thing that never wavered was our guys stuck with it, and they didn't panic. And then we executed down the stretch and had some good things happen."
"Get used to it," Tulsa coach Danny Manning said when asked about all the fouls called.
Manning says playing defense is a work in progress for all college basketball coaches this year. "There are times with the way the game is being called that you will have to alter your principles," Manning said. "You're going to have to if they continue to be 38 and 49 free throws in a game."
Lusk says he talked to his team before the game about not letting Tulsa get to the paint. "We knew they had athletic drivers, and we talked about living with maybe eating a couple three's, taking a couple three's and just making them beat us from the perimeter. And then they made a couple, but I think the percentages played out."
The Bears will play again Wednesday night at home against Grambling State. Tipoff is at 7:05 at JQH Arena.
Missouri State's all time record for free throw attempts is 60, set January 11th, 1955 against Northwest Missouri State. The Bears 49 attempts from the line Saturday night are the most at home since the days of playing in McDonald Arena (1940-1976).
The 96 points scored by the Bears are the most since December 4th, 2010, when Cuonzo Martin's team topped the century mark in a 101-61 win against Central Arkansas.
Three players fouled out of the game (Rashad Smith and Pat Swilling for Tulsa and Christian Kirk for Missouri State), but seven players finished the contest with four fouls.
Tulsa Coach Danny Manning helped lead the Kansas Jayhawks to a 67-63 win over then Southwest Missouri State in the second round of the 1987 NCAA Tournament. Manning scored 42 points for the Jayhawks in that game.