Gorillas Close Out Regular Season on Road Against Hornets, Ichabods
Press Release PSU:
The Pittsburg State University men’s basketball team will close out the regular season with a pair of road games this week.
The Gorillas will travel to Emporia, Kan., to face MIAA rival Emporia State University Wednesday (Feb. 25), before heading to Topeka to take on Washburn University Saturday (Feb. 28).
Wednesday’s action is set for 7:30 p.m. (CST) at William L. White Auditorium, while Saturday’s regular season finale will tipoff at 7 p.m. at WU’s Lee Arena.
Pitt State is 16-9 overall, 12-5 in the MIAA and alone in third place in the conference standings – one game behind co-leaders University of Central Missouri and Northwest Missouri State University. The Gorillas fell out of a three-way tie atop the standings with the Mules and Bearcats after dropping a 66-63 home decision to Missouri Southern State University last Saturday (Feb. 21).
ESU is 11-16 overall, 4-14 in the MIAA and 13th in the conference standings. The Hornets need a victory over the Gorillas to avoid elimination from the 12-team MIAA Postseason Tournament. Wednesday’s action will be the regular season finale for the Hornets.
WU is 14-15 overall, 9-9 in the MIAA and alone in ninth place in the conference standings. The Ichabods, who defeated ESU 79-54 last Saturday (Feb. 21), are idle until Saturday’s finale against the Gorillas.
Head Coach Kevin Muff
Pittsburg State’s Kevin Muff is in his fifth season leading the Gorillas. Muff (Kansas State, ’86) became the Gorillas’ 14th all-time head coach on Apr. 5, 2010, after spending 12 seasons at Cloud County Community College, where he helped the Thunderbirds to an average of 21 wins in each of the last five seasons. [for complete biography, see page 3]
He has a 72-64 (.529) record in his tenure with the Gorillas. This will be his 10th meeting vs. ESU. Muff is 6-3 vs. the Hornets. He has a 2-7 record vs. Washburn.
Pitt State and Emporia will meet for the 188th time in a series that dates all the way back to the 1917 season. The Hornets hold a slim 94-93 edge in the series, including a 56-38 advantage in games played at Emporia.
Last Meeting (vs. ESU): Josiah Gustafson converted a driving reverse layup to put Pitt State in front with 1:06 to play and Terrence Moore’s mid-range jumper rimmed in and out for ESU as time expired to allow the Gorillas to claim a 59-58 victory over the Hornets on Jan. 14.
Gustafson led all scorers with 19 points on the night, while Lamine Dieng finished with 16 and Dakota Jones added 15. Javis Flynn set a new Pitt State single-game assist record, dishing out 12 helpers in the contest.
The Gorillas and Ichabods will meet for the 178th time in a series that dates back to the 1920 season. Washburn holds a 96-81 advantage in the series, including a 66-22 advantage in games played in Topeka. The Ichabods have recorded seven straight home wins over the Gorillas and 32 of 34 games over Pitt State dating back to 1983.
Last Meeting (vs. WU): Josiah Gustafson scored a game-high 23 points to fuel the Pitt State offense in an historic 82-40 victory over Washburn on Jan. 17. Javis Flynn added 11 points and a game-high seven assists.
Pitt State posted its largest margin of victory in the 177-game history over the series with Washburn. The Gorillas enjoyed a 41-point win over the Ichabods, 72-31, on Feb. 6, 1943.
Scouting the Gorillas
Pitt State has three players scoring in double figures on the season: sophomore guard Josiah Gustafson (17.1 ppg), senior guard Devon Branch (14.3 ppg) and junior guard Trey Starks (12.0 ppg).
Gustafson (6-6, 190) is shooting 47.2 percent from the field (136 of 288), including 42 of 93 (.452) from 3-point range. The Omaha, Neb., native also has made 114 of 136 (.838) free throw attempts – ranking fourth in the MIAA in free throw percentage. Gustafson, who ranks third in the MIAA in scoring, has scored 20 or more points 10 times this season.
Branch (6-6, 180) is shooting 53.2 percent from the floor. The Aberdeen, Md., native also is contributing 3.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Starks (6-0, 190) made his Pitt State debut against Central Oklahoma on Feb. 7. The Springfield, Mo., native scored 13 points in his debut vs. UCO and added a season-high 18 points vs. Northeastern State on Feb. 18.
Junior forward Lamine Dieng (6-8, 240) has averaged 8.4 points and a team-leading 5.0 rebounds in 20 games played. The Thies, Segegal native redshirted in 2013-14 and missed the Gorillas’ first four games this season.
Freshman guard Dakota Jones (5-10, 165) contributes 7.4 points per game, while sophomore forward Trevor Gregory (6-7, 235) chips in with 7.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Junior guard Javis Flynn (5-10, 170) adds 6.3 points and a team-leading 5.4 assists and 2.2 steals per game. Flynn dished out a PSU record 12 assists in the Gorillas’ 59-58 win over Emporia State on Jan. 14. He leads the MIAA in assists and ranks second in the conference in steals.
As a team, Pitt State has averaged 72.2 points per game, shooting 48.6 percent from the floor (605 of 1245), 40.4 percent from 3-point range (132 of 327) and 72.8 percent from the free throw line (462 of 635).
The opposition has averaged 66.8 points per game and shot 44.6 percent from the field (544 of 1221).
Pitt State Probable Starters
F 24 Trevor Gregory, 6-7, 235, So., Lee’s Summit, Mo.
F 33 Connor Kjer, 6-6, 218, Sr., La Habra, Calif.
G 3 Javis Flynn, 5-10, 170, Jr., Watonga, Okla.
G 4 Josiah Gustafson, 6-6, 190, So., Omaha, Neb.
G 5 Devon Branch, 6-6, 180, Sr., Aberdeen, Md.
Scouting the Hornets
ESU has one player scoring in double figures – junior guard Terrence Moore (16.6 ppg) – and three more players scoring more than eight points a game – senior forward Jevon Taylor (9.6 ppg), senior guard Jay Temaat (8.4 ppg) and senior forward Micah Swank (8.4 ppg).
Moore is shooting 46.8 percent from the field, leads the squad in rebounds (103, 4.1 rpg) free throws made (89) and attempted (117), assists (61) and steals (57). He leads the MIAA in steals per game (2.3 spg).
Taylor, who has played in a reserve role in 25 of 27 games, has a team-leading 54 3-point field goals.
The Hornets are averaging 66.1 points per game and shooting 42.8 percent from the field on the season.
ESU Probable Starters
F 10 Jay Temaat, 6-4, 170, So., Lenexa, Kan.
F 30 Josh Pedersen, 6-7, 190, So., Olathe, Kan.
G 1 Perryonte Smith, 5-11, 180, Sr., Milwaukee, Wis.
G 11 Terrence Moore, 6-2, 170, Jr., Wichita, Kan.
G 13 Micah Swank, 6-1, 185, Sr., Raytown, Mo.
Scouting the Ichabods
Washburn has two players scoring in double figures – senior guard Kyle Wiggins (15.0 ppg) and senior forward Alex North (11.1 ppg) – and three players scoring more than six points a game – senior guard Algie Key (8.8 ppg), junior forward Christian Ulsaker (6.6 ppg) and senior guard Korey Fisher (6.1 ppg).
Key is shooting a team-leading 53.7 percent from the field, while North is pulling down a team-leading 7.0 rebounds per game. Wiggins has hit a team-high 47 3-pointers on the season.
As a team, Washburn has averaged 71.9 points per game and shot 44.9 percent from the field.
WU Probable Starters
F 22 Alex North, 6-6, 215, Sr., Topeka, Kan.
F 34 Jeremy Lickteig, 6-7, 220, So., Wichita, Kan.
G 3 Algie Key, 6-4, 200, Sr., Decatur, Ga.
G 5 Korey Fisher, 6-2, 195, Sr., East Orange, N.J.
G 11 Kyle Wiggins, 6-3, 195, Sr., Leavenworth, Kan.