Lions travel to San Antonio for St. Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic

Press Release MSSU:

The Missouri Southern men’s basketball team will head to San Antonio this weekend as the Lions will compete in the St. Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic on November 28 and 29. Tipoff on both days is slated for 3 pm.

Game Information

Teams: Missouri Southern (3-3) vs. St. Mary’s (1-2)/Midwestern State (4-1)

Date : Fri./Sat. 11-28/29
Tip-Off: 3 pm each day
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Site: Bill Greehey Arena (3,800)
Series Record: Lions lead SMU 2-1/Lions lead MSU 7-3
Coaches: Jeff Boschee (3-3 overall/at MSSU). Jim Zeleznak (161-100 overall/at SMU – Nelson Haggerty (72-51 overall/at MSU)

Media Coverage

MSSU Radio: FM 99.7 KBTN – Mike McClure – Play-by-play
Internet Audio:
Live Stats:
Lions on Facebook:
Lions on Twitter: @mososports; @mssumensbball

A look at the coaches: Jeff Boschee, MSSU – Jeff Boschee is in his first season as the head coach of the Missouri Southern basketball program after serving four seasons as an assistant and associate head coach. He was named the head coach of the Lions on July 1, 2014. Since Boschee has arrived at Southern, the Lions have went 86-33, made four consecutive MIAA tournaments and had trips to three of the last four NCAA Division II postseason tournaments, while claiming the 2010-11 MIAA regular season championship, and the 2013-14 post-season tournament championship. The 2010-11 team set the MIAA record for conference wins in a season with 19. Under Boschee’s leadership, former Lion Skyler Bowlin was the MIAA’s Player and Defender of the Year in 2011. He was a first-team All-MIAA, All-Region and All-American selection, being named to three different All-America teams. He was also the Region Player of the Year and a finalist for the National Player of the Year. Bowlin signed a professional contract to play basketball in the German Pro League after completing his eligibility and has since moved on to playing in Denmark.

Jim Zeleznak – St. Mary’s – Since taking over the St. Mary’s Men’s Basketball program in 2005, Zeleznak has continued St. Mary’s winning traditions while also managing to lead the storied program to unprecedented success as an NCAA Division II member. His Rattlers have earned three straight national-tournament appearances — including their first-ever NCAA Sweet 16 bid in 2013 — and they cut down the nets following Heartland Conference Tournament championships in 2012 and 2013. Now in his 10th season at the helm, Zeleznak has become the program’s third-most winningest coach with a career record of 160-98 (61-percent winning percentage).

Nelson Haggerty – Midwestern State enters his fourth season at the helm at Midwestern State after he was tabbed as the program’s 14th head coach in April of 2011. And he has done nothing but proven his stance as one of the finest young mentors in the game posting a 75-21 mark (.781) in his first three seasons. Haggerty led the Mustangs to a 29-4 record while advancing to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in 2011-12 claiming NABC South Central Region and Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year honors in his first season in the lead chair.

New Head Coach – Southern will be under a new head coach for the first time in 25 years this season as first-year head coach Jeff Boschee will taking the reigns from Hall of Fame coach Robert Corn.

New Coaches – Boschee returns assistant coach Nick Bradford who was on the staff last season and brings in former Missouri State coach Sam McMahon, as well as former Baker University guard Todd Johnston to round out the coaching staff.

Defending Champs – The Lions won the 2014 MIAA Basketball Tournament in Kansas City last year, defeating Nebraska-Kearney in the opener. The Lions beat Northwest Missouri in game two and won against Central Oklahoma in the Tournament Championship.

Regional Appearance – The Lions made the program’s fifth-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament last season when the team went to Mankato, Minn. and lost to eventual National Champion Central Missouri in the round of 32. The Lions have been to the NCAA Tournament in three of the last four seasons.

MIAA Preseason Poll – Southern was picked to finish fifth in the MIAA pre-season coaches poll. Defending national and league champion Central Missouri was picked to repeat and received ten first-place votes. Fort Hays State was picked second with two first-place votes, while Washburn and Northwest Missouri were picked third and fourth, each receiving a first-place vote. Southern was fifth, followed by Central Oklahoma, Nebraska-Kearney, Emporia State, Lindenwood and Pittsburg State to round out the top ten. Missouri Western, Northeastern State, Southwest Baptist, and Lincoln round out the poll.

Record Breakers – Junior shooting guard Austin Wright set two records for the Lions last year, breaking the single-season three point percentage mark (.493) and he also is the current career-leader in that category (.443).

Tough Schedule – Missouri Southern plays a tough non-conference schedule this season participating in two regional tournaments. The Lions will face-off with a pair of NSIC teams in the Sanford Pentagon Tipoff to start the season and the team will travel to San Antonio, Texas to take on St. Mary’s and Midwestern State, both of whom are receiving votes in the preseason national poll. The Lions have five teams on their schedule this year that are receiving votes in the preseason poll.

Three Point Streak – The Lions failed to make a three-pointer at Arkansas Tech in their match-up in 2012-13. It was the first time in 403 games that Southern had failed to hit a three pointer, dating back to Jan. 20, 1999 against Missouri S&T. The Lions have had a three in 59-straight games since Arkansas Tech in 2012-13.

Welcome Back – Cameron Cornelius, Lane Barlow and Greg Renfroe return to the starting lineup for the Lions, as Southern returns nine players overall from 2013-14. The Lions will also have the help of three players that practiced with the team last season, but redshirted.

Fresh Faces – The Lions have five new players on the roster this year and two more that redshirted last season for the team. Charlie Brown, Terrence Pierce and Andrew Ballock are true freshmen, while Taylor Luster, Bruce Marshall and Taevaunn Prince transfer in from either junior college or four-year institutions. Both Prince and Brandon Pines practiced with Missouri Southern last year, but redshirt ed.

Halftime leads – The Lions had identical 37-36 leads at the break of each of their first two games against Northern State and Sioux Falls, but couldn’t retain the lead in the second half. However, the Lions did hold on to the halftime lead against Arkansas-Fort Smith, Saint Mary and Benedictine.

Bench Scoring – The Lions’ bench has outscored every opponent’s bench this season. Overall, Southern’s bench has outscored the opponents 193-116.

Outshoot The Opponent – One thing that has been consistent this season is that when the Lions outshoot their opponents, they win, going 3-0 in games where that happens. They have, however, gone 0-3 when they are outshot.

NCAA Stat Leaders – The Lions, as a team, rank eighth in Division II in free-throws made and ninth in free-throw attempts, while ranking 43rd in total blocks and 46th in total rebounds. Individually Taevaunn Prince ranks sixth in both free-throw attempts and free-throws made.

MIAA Stat Leaders – The Lions, as a team, lead the MIAA in both free-throw attempts and free-throws made, while ranking second in field-goal percentage and total blocks and ranking third in total rebounds. Individually, Taevaunn Prince leads the MIAA in both free-throw attempts and free-throws made, while Austin Wright leads the league in three’s per game and both Bruce Marshall and Greg Renfroe lead the league in total blocks. Prince ranks second in total points, while Wright ranks fourth in three-point percentage and three’s per game, while Barlow is fourth in assists.

Up Next – Southern will open up MIAA play with a road trip to Neb.-Kearney and Washburn on Dec. 4 and 6.