Pitt State men prep for MIAA opener vs. Northeastern State

The Gorillas are 5-1 heading into conference play
Pitt State men prep for MIAA opener vs. Northeastern State

RELEASE FROM PITTSBURG STATE ATHLETICS:

The Pittsburg State University men’s basketball team will continue a four-game home stand when the Gorillas open Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play this week against Northeastern State University Wednesday(Dec. 5) and the University of Central Oklahoma Saturday (Dec. 8).

The Gorillas will face off against the RiverHawks at 7:30 p.m. (CST) Wednesday at John Lance Arena/Whetzel Court, and Pitt State will battle the Bronchos in a Saturday matinee at 3:30 p.m.

The Records
Pitt State brings a 5-1 record into Wednesday’s action. The Gorillas have posted five consecutive wins, including a 107-63 victory over Nebraska Christian College in their most recent action Thursday (Nov. 29).

The Gorillas split a pair of games to open the season at the Central Region Tipoff Challenge Nov. 9-10 at Warrensburg, Mo. Pitt State dropped a hard-fought 95-92 decision to Wayne State College in its season opener Nov. 9, before bouncing back with a 99-76 victory over Harding University the next night.

Pitt State claimed a 79-71 win over the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith in its home opener Nov. 17, before dispatching Maryville University, 71-66, at Municipal Auditorium at Kansas City, Mo., Nov. 19.

The Gorillas also scored a 92-84 home victory against East Central University on Nov. 23.

NSU is 5-2 on the early season. The RiverHawks have won two straight games, including a 118-46 home victory over Central Christian College in their most recent action Nov. 30.

UCO is 5-2 overall heading into a Thursday (Dec. 6) road game against Missouri Southern State University. The Bronchos posted an 82-72 home win over Oklahoma Christian University in their most recent action Nov. 29.

Head Coach Kim Anderson
Pittsburg State’s Kim Anderson is in his second season leading the Gorillas. He compiled a 17-13 record in his first season at Pitt State and has a 22-14 (.611) mark leading the Gorillas.

Anderson (Missouri, ’79) became the Gorillas’ 15th all-time head coach on Apr. 10, 2017, after coaching the previous three seasons at his alma mater – the University of Missouri.

He has a 323-176 (.647) record in 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach, including the 2014 NCAA Division II National Championship as head coach at the University of Central Missouri as well as two more Division II Final Four appearances (2007, 2009) while compiling a 274-95 (.743) record at the school.

Wednesday’s action will mark his 500th all-time game as a collegiate head coach.

Anderson led UCM to seven trips to the NCAA Division II National Tournament and seven 20-win seasons. In his final season with the Mules he guided the squad to a 30-5 overall record and the D2 national title.

His Mules teams captured six MIAA regular season titles (2005, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014) and four MIAA Tournament titles (2005, 2007, 2009, 2013).

He was selected the MIAA Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2010, and the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year in 2014.

Series History
Pitt State and NSU will meet for the 74th time Wednesday with the Gorillas holding a 51-22 (.699) advantage in the series. The Gorillas have won six straight head-to-head match-ups and Pitt State holds a 33-9 (.786) advantage in games played in Pittsburg.

Saturday’s action will mark the 34th all-time meeting between Pitt State and UCO. The Bronchos hold a 19-14 (.576) edge in the series, but PSU is 10-5 against UCO in games played in Pittsburg.

All-Time Victories
Pitt State has compiled a 1428-1182 (.547) all-time record in 110 seasons of intercollegiate play. The Gorillas rank 15th on the NCAA Division II wins list (1428).

Scouting the Gorillas
Pitt State has three players scoring in double figures – senior guard Grant Lozoya (22.3 ppg), senior guard Donovan Franklin (22.3 ppg) and senior forward/center Trenton Clayton (10.2 ppg) – while four more players – senior forward Demetrius Levarity (9.0 ppg), junior guard A.J. Walker (7.3 ppg), freshman guard Ray Elliott (6.0 ppg) and junior guard Marcel Cherry (5.2 ppg) – are scoring five or more points a game.

Lozoya is averaging 24.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game to date. He leads the MIAA and currently ranks seventh in NCAA Division II in scoring.

The Agoura Hills, Calif., native scored a career-high 33 points in the Gorillas’ win against East Central Nov. 23. It marked the highest single game scoring effort by a Pitt State player since Devon Branch scored 34 points against Washburn on Mar. 1, 2014. He followed that up with a 32-point scoring night against Nebraska Christian the last time out on Nov. 29.

Lozoya (6-3, 180) earned MIAA Player of the Week honors on Nov. 9 after scoring 25 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out four assists in Pitt State’s 79-71 win over UAFS Nov. 17. He posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds vs. Maryville (Nov. 19).

Lozoya is shooting 62.8 percent from the field (54-86), 43.5 percent from 3-point range (10-23) and .938 percent from the free throw line (30-32). He currently leads the MIAA in free throw percentage and ranks second in the league in field goal percentage.

Lozoya averaged 13.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while making 29 starts for the Gorillas a year ago. He made a team-leading 44 3-point field goals (44-114, .386) and he shot 48.0 percent from the field (129-169).

Lozoya came to Pitt State after three years at Stetson University. He averaged 9.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a freshman for the Hatters in 2014-15, earning All-Freshman honors from the Atlantic Sun Conference. Lozoya contributed 7.4 points and 2.5 rebounds as a sophomore in 2015-16, before exercising a medical redshirt in 2016-17.

Franklin is averaging 22.7 points and a team-leading 7.7 rebounds after six games played. The St. Louis, Mo., native is shooting 49.4 percent from the field (44-89) and 86.0 percent from the free throw line (43-50). He’s currently third in the MIAA in scoring and he ranks six in the conference in rebounding and seventh in the league in free throw percentage.

Franklin (6-5, 205) scored the game’s final nine points as the Gorillas rallied from down 66-62 to claim a 71-66 win over Maryville Nov. 19. He posted a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds against the Saints; and he’s scored 20 or more points in five of Pitt State’s six games to date.

Franklin earned honorable mention All-MIAA honors in his initial season with the Gorillas, averaging 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 26 games played. He shot 49.2 percent from the field, converting 130 of 264 shots on the season. Franklin shot 40.2 percent from 3-point range (41-102). He also made 87.2 percent of his free throw attempts, sinking 129 of 148 charity tries.

Franklin scored 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds in his Pitt State debut against Minnesota State on Nov. 10, 2017. He scored 20 or more points eight times, including a season-high 31 points against Missouri Western on Feb. 17, 2018. He scored in double figures in 22 of 29 games and averaged 18.7 points per game over the final seven games of the 2017-18 campaign.

Franklin joined the Gorillas from Indiana State University. He averaged 4.2 points and 1.5 rebounds in 26 games for the Sycamores in 2016-17. He averaged 14.9 points a game as a freshman at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Fla.

Clayton is averaging 10.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots per game.The Montgomery, Ala., native is shooting 56.8 percent from the field (21-37). He currently ranks third in the MIAA in blocked shots.

Clayton (6-9, 230) transferred to Pitt State from the University of North Alabama. He averaged 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game for the Lions last season. Clayton averaged 8.4 points and 4.8 rebounds a game as a sophomore at Shelton State Community College.

Levarity is averaging 9.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. The New Orleans, La., native also is averaging a team-leading 2.0 steals per game, ranking in a tie for second place in the MIAA in the category.

Levarity (6-7, 210) contributed 10.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last season. He shot 50.2 percent from the field (105-209) and he converted 37 of 90 3-point attempts (.411).

Levarity scored in double figures in 17 of 27 games played. He posted three double-doubles, including a 19-point, 11-rebound effort against Fort Hays State on Dec. 2, 2017. Levarity scored a season-high 22 points against Missouri Western on Feb. 17, 2018.

Levarity transferred to Pitt State from Sam Houston State University, where he redshirted in 2016-17. He contributed 15.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Southeastern Illinois College.

Walker is contributing 7.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.0 steals per game to date. He is tied for second place in the MIAA in steals.

Walker (6-0, 165) transferred to Pitt State from State Fair Community College. The Kansas City, Mo., native averaged 13.7 points and 7.0 assists per game for the Roadrunners in 2017-18, earning honorable mention NJCAA All-America honors.

Elliott has added 6.0 points per game in his first six collegiate contests.Elliott (6-4, 165) averaged 36 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game as a senior at Tulsa’s Nathan Hale High School last year. He earned firstteam Oklahoma Class 5A All-State honors after leading the state in scoring his senior prep season.

Cherry is averaging 5.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.

Cherry (6-1, 185) joined the Gorillas from Wabash Valley College where he averaged 7.7 points and 3.2 assists per game in 2017-18. The Merrillville, Ind., native averaged 9.1 points per game and earned honorabl mention All-Conference honors as a freshman at Howard College.

As a team, Pitt State is shooting 48.3 percent from the field (187-387), 31.0 percent from 3-point range (39-126) and 74.3 percent from the free throw line (127-171). The Gorillas are scoring 90.0 points per game.

The Gorillas lead the MIAA and rank 13th in Division II in scoring (90.0 ppg). Pitt State ranks second in the conference in steals (8.83 spg) and tied for second in the league in blocked shots (3.83 bpg). The Gorillas lead the MIAA and rank fourth in Division II in turnover margin (-7.0 pg).

Pitt State Probable Starters
F 0 Trenton Clayton, 6-9, 230, Sr., Montgomery, Ala.
F 5 Demetrius Levarity, 6-7, 210, Sr., New Orleans, La.
G 1 A.J. Walker, 6-0, 165, Jr., Kansas City, Mo.
G 2 Grant Lozoya, 6-3, 180, Sr., Agoura Hills, Calif.
G 3 Donovan Franklin, 6-5, 205, Sr., St. Louis, Mo.

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