Gorillas to Host RiverHawks, Lions This Week

Press Release PSU:
The Pittsburg State University men’s basketball team will wrap up a four-game home stand with a pair of contests at John Lance Arena.

The Gorillas will host MIAA rival Northeastern State University Wednesday (Feb. 18) at 7:30 p.m.

Then, Pitt State will face Missouri Southern State University Saturday (Feb. 21) at 3:30 p.m. The Gorillas and Lions contest will serve as part of the State Farm Trophy Series competition between the two schools.

The State Farm Trophy Series is a cooperative effort between MSSU, PSU and State Farm to reward and honor the athletics department that performs the best throughout the course of the year.

One point is awarded in each of the 12 sports in which both departments compete. The school with the most points at the end of the year will be presented the State Farm Trophy Series trophy. Pittsburg State has won both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 State Farm Trophy Series battles.

The Records
Pitt State is 15-8 overall, 11-4 in the MIAA and tied for second place in the conference standings (with Northwest Missouri State University) – a half-game behind the University of Central Missouri atop the league. The Gorillas have won two straight, and five of six, games. Pitt State defeated Fort Hays State University, 77-63, in its last action on Feb. 14.

NSU is 6-16 overall, 4-11 in the MIAA and 12th in the conference standings. The RiverHawks dropped a 92-68 road decision to Washburn University in their last action Saturday (Feb. 14).

MSSU is 15-9 overall, 9-6 in the MIAA and tied for fifth place in the conference standings (with UNK) heading into a Wednesday match-up against Southwest Baptist University at Joplin, Mo. The Lions snapped a three-game losing streak with an 83-77 home win over Missouri Western State University on Feb. 14.

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.

He has a 71-63 (.530) record in his tenure with the Gorillas. This will be his eighth meeting vs. NSU. He has a 4-3 record vs. the RiverHawks. Muff is 3-4 vs. MSSU.

Series History
Pitt State and NSU will meet for the 68th time Wednesday in a series that dates all the way back to the 1928 season. The Gorillas hold a 45-22 advantage in the series, including a 29-9 edge in games played in Pittsburg.

Last Time Out (vs. NSU): Pitt State used a 9-0 run midway through the second half to break open a tight game and propel the Gorillas to a 76-66 victory over pesky NSU on Jan. 28.

Javis Flynn scored 15 of his team-leading 17 points in the second half for the Gorillas. Josiah Gustafson added 16 points, while Connor Kjer finished with 14 and Devon Branch added 13. Demone Harrison led all scorers with 22 points for the RiverHawks

Pitt State and MSSU will meet for the 94th time Saturday in a series that dates all the way back to the 1969 season – MSSU’s first year as a four-year college. The Lions hold a slight 49-44 edge in the series, but the Gorillas are 30-15 against MSSU at John Lance Arena.

Scouting the Gorillas
Pitt State has three players scoring in double figures on the season: sophomore guard Josiah Gustafson (16.6 ppg), senior guard Devon Branch (14.6 ppg) and junior guard Trey Starks (12.3 ppg).
Branch (6-6, 180) is shooting 54.0 percent from the floor. The Aberdeen, Md., native also is contributing 3.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

Gustafson (6-6, 190) is shooting 46.2 percent from the field (122 of 264), including 36 of 84 (.429) from 3-point range. The Omaha, Neb., native also has made 101 of 120 (.842) free throw attempts – ranking fifth in the MIAA in free throw percentage. Gustafson, who ranks fifth in the MIAA in scoring, has scored 20 or more points eight times this season.

Starks (6-0, 190) made his Pitt State debut against Central Oklahoma on Feb. 7. The Springfield, Mo., native scored 13 points against UCO and followed that up with 12-point efforts vs. UNK and FHSU last week.

Junior forward Lamine Dieng (6-8, 240) has averaged 8.6 points and a team-leading 5.0 rebounds in 19 games played. The Thies, Segegal native

The Thies, Senegal native redshirted in 2013-14 and missed the Gorillas’ first four games this season.

Freshman guard Dakota Jones (5-10, 165) contributes 7.3 points per game, while sophomore forward Trevor Gregory (6-7, 235) chips in with 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Junior guard Javis Flynn (5-10, 170) adds 6.6 points and a team-leading 5.3 assists and 2.3 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 steals.

As a team, Pitt State has averaged 71.9 points per game, shooting 48.5 percent from the floor (559 of 1153), 40.7 percent from 3-point range (122 of 300) and 73.3 percent from the free throw line (414 of 565).
The opposition has averaged 66.6 points per game and shot 44.9 percent from the field (503 of 1121).

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 RiverHawks
NSU has two players scoring in double figures –junior forward Demone Harrison (12.2 ppg), junior forward Keon Littleton (10-6 ppg) – and two players scoring more than eight nine points a game – junior forward Dakota Caudill (9.0 ppg) and junior guard Trey Mohair (8.8 ppg).

Caudill is shooting a team-leading 47.8 percent from the field, while Littleton averages a team-best 5.7 rebounds per game. Mohair has dished out a team-high 57 assists (2.6 apg) and snared 39 steals (1.8 spg).
As a team, NSU has averaged 68.8 points per game and shot 40.8 percent from the field. The RiverHawks are 1-11 on the road this season.

NSU Probable Starters
F 25 Demone Harrison, 6-3, 185, Jr., Houston, Texas
F 32 Dakota Caudill, 6-6, 220, Jr., Claremore, Okla.
G 00 Amir Gilliam, 6-0, 185, Sr., Newark, N.J.
G 20 Trey Mohair, 6-0, 190, Jr., Denton, Texas
G 23 Montre’ Williams, 5-10, 160, Fr., Copperas Cove, Texas

Scouting the Lions
MSSU has three players scoring in double figures – junior guard Taevaunn Prince (15.6 ppg), senior guard Lane Barlow (11.5 ppg) and senior guard Cameron Cornelius (11.4 ppg) – and one play scoring more than nine points a game – junior guard Austin Wright (9.4 ppg).

Prince is averaging 17.0 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in MIAA action on the season. Wright has hit a team-leading 60 3-pointers (2.5 pg), while Barlow has dished out a team-high 76 assists (3.2 apg). Junior center Greg Renfroe is shooting a team-best 57.1 percent from the field, averaging 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

The Lions are averaging 77.8 points per game and shooting 45.8 percent from the field on the season.

MSSU Probable Starters
C 12 Greg Renfroe, 6-8, 250, Jr., Delaware, Okla.
G 1 Austin Wright, 6-2, 180, Jr., Bixby, Okla.
G 23 Cameron Cornelius, 6-0, 192, Sr., Wichita, Kan.
G 25 Lane Barlow, 6-0, 185, Sr., Chicago, Ill.
G 55 Taevaunn Prince, 6-3, 215, Jr., Toronto, Canada