At 4-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, MSU is tied with Illinois State (a team the Bears have already beat) for third place in the league. A win at Southern Illinois this weekend would give the Bears their most league wins since 1990, which was also the last time MSU made the FCS playoffs.
It’s been a roller coaster season that began with an 0-4 start in the non-conference schedule, followed by losing two of the first three MVFC games.
But somehow, some way, the Bears are on the upswing/
MSU has finally found some offense to go with its stellar defense, and the results have been three straight convincing wins. Their game this Saturday will have long-term and short-term implications.
A win, and the Bears keep their slim hopes for the p-word (I can’t bring myself to type it and jinx it) alive. The Bears would be 5-6 overall and 5-2 in the MVFC, with a regular season finale at home the following week against last-place Northern Iowa.
You wouldn’t think a .500-level record would be good enough to get into the FCS playoffs, but the Bears have a few things working to their advantage.
For one, they play in what’s usually viewed as one of the toughest conferences in the FCS. Generally, the MVFC sends multiple teams to the playoffs. That at-large bid may be a pipe dream with a 6-6 overall record, but at least at 6-2 and alone in third place, the Bears would have chance.
In speaking with the media this week, Allen said: “If we can get this one (at Southern Illinois), then we’re coming home and might be playing for something pretty specially. So we gotta make sure they know that, but also stay in the mindset that it’s one game at a time.”
So, you mean to say MSU’s season might not be over after playing Northern Iowa on Nov. 16?
“(Players) understand that,” Allen said. “We’ve made sure of that.”
The FCS playoffs also expanded from 20 to 24 teams for the 2013 season. While it may have been bleak to get a bid two or three years ago, the Bears could land in one of those new playoff spots.
Here’s a recap of how many MVFC teams have made the playoffs in the last five years. Keep in mind, between 2010-2012, there were 10 at-large spots available. There are 13 at-large spots this year.
• 2012 – League champ: North Dakota State; At-large: Illinois State, South Dakota State
• 2011 – League champ: North Dakota State; At-large: Northern Iowa
• 2010 – League champ: Northern Iowa; At-large: North Dakota State, Western Illinois
• 2009 – League champ: Southern Illinois; At-large: South Dakota State *16-team playoff, 8 at-large spots
• 2008 – League champ: Northern Iowa; At-large: Southern Illinois *16-team playoff, 8 at-large spots
In the interest of full disclosure, the easy case against the Bears’ playoff chances would be that none of those at-large teams in the last five years had a .500-level record. That just makes the Bears’ early season struggles all the more frustrating.
If they don’t somehow pull a loss from the jaws of victory against Murray State, Central Arkansas and South Dakota, they’re at least 6-4 and a near-lock for the playoffs if they win out.
Let’s play along and say the Bears win their last two games, defy the odds, and squeak into the playoffs with one of the last at-large bids.
Suddenly, your head coach goes from the hot seat to the contract-extension seat. Allen will have given the Bears their most league victories and first playoff appearance in over 20 years. He also would go into 2014 in the final year of his contract.
You have to bring him back for 2014 and let the contract play out, but now do you reward him with an extension? Does one improbable late-season run into a playoff spot outweigh seven seasons of average-to-above average football?
It would be hard for Allen to go on the recruiting trail, coming off a breakthrough playoff appearance for the school, and try to land players while they know his contract will be up after their first season at MSU.
That contract extension depends on if the Bears can win at Southern Illinois, then return home and beat Northern Iowa (something Allen has never done at MSU.) Past history would tell us that this is the classic MSU sports scenario where we slightly get our hopes up, only to be let down.
If they lose one or both of the next two games, we could see a lot of changes with MSU football before next season. A “lame duck” situation would not be ideal for anyone.
Still, it’s a refreshing change that basketball season is about to start and the football Bears still have something to play for.
The season is over for the Bakersfield Lady Lions. They lost to an outstanding Crane Lady Pirate team Saturday at Drury College in Springfield, 73-56. A great year for the Lady Lions ends with a record of 23-5.
The Thayer Bobcats have reached the state final four in class 2 boys basketball with a 46-45 win over Advance Saturday in Farmington. The 27-3 Bobcats will play in the state semi-finals Thursday evening at 6:40 at the Mizzou Arena in Columbia against undefeated Sacred Heart.
Missouri State lost in the semi-final round of the Missouri Valley Tournament Saturday to eventual champion Wichita State, 67-42. The Shockers claimed the tournament title, beating Indiana State yesterday to finish the regular season undefeated.
The Bears finish the regular season 20-12.
If you have not scheduled your tournament yet, please do so. The Course will be closed Saturday Mar 8th due to frozen Greens. March 24th & 25th we will be aerating the Greens weather permitting. We will be starting the Leagues April 7th Ladies League, April 8th cat & dog league & April 9th & 10th men’s league. Sign-up sheets will be posted in the shop.
Missouri Basketball will open Southeastern Conference Tournament action on Thursday at Noon CT against Texas A&M at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
It’s the second time the Tigers and Aggies will meet in a span of eight days. Missouri topped Texas A&M at home on Senior Night, 57-56, on March 5. Missouri and Texas A&M also met in last season’s SEC Tournament in Nashville, with the Tigers grabbing a 62-50 win.
Missouri will be looking for its third consecutive win over Texas A&M, its longest winning streak since winning six straight from 1998-2002.
WICHITA, Kan. – Wichita State harassed the Missouri State Lady Bears into a season-high 27 turnovers Sunday afternoon on the way to a 93-56 victory in the regular-season finale for both clubs inside Koch Arena.
Missouri State ends the regular season at 13-16 overall and 8-10 in Missouri Valley Conference play, tying for sixth place with Illinois State and taking the No. 7 seed into next week’s league tournament in St. Charles, Mo. The Lady Bears will open tournament play with No. 10 Southern Illinois at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 13. The Shockers (23-6, 14-4) share the conference title with Indiana State and will be the No. 2 seed, setting up a possible 6 p.m. Friday rematch should MSU defeat SIU on Thursday.
The Shockers took control of the game for good with a 16-2 run midway through the first half. The Lady Bears led only one time at 7-6 when WSU answered with a 9-0 run to lead 15-7. Hannah Wilkerson buried a long 3-pointer and Bry Snow hit a layup to pull MSU within 21-18 with 10:52 to play, but the Shockers distanced themselves with the aforementioned 16-2 run over the next five-plus minutes.
Included in that WSU run was sequence in which the Shockers scored six points in 14 seconds, and the home team led by double digits the remainder of the first half, shooting 49 percent to MSU’s .321 field goal percentage and scoring 22 points off 14 MSU turnovers.
Wichita State’s league player of the year candidate Alex Harden scored 72 seconds into the second half to put the Shockers ahead 53-32, and WSU kept its advantage above 20 points the rest of the game as Harden finished with a game-high 27 points.
Wilkerson led the Lady Bears and matched a career high with 14 points, becoming the 58th player in school history with 500 career points in the process, while Bry and Tyonna Snow scored 10 apiece as MSU shot 18-for-59 from the field compared to 34-for-69 for WSU.
Missouri State won the rebounding battle 45-37 with five players grabbing at least five boards. The Shockers turned MSU’s 27 turnovers in 37 points.
(Republic) – The West Plains Lady Zizzers fall in the Class 4 District 11 championship to Republic Friday:
The final score:
Republic – 35
West Plains – 34
(Republic) – The West Plains Zizzers fell to Rogersville Thursday:
The final was:
West Plains – 55
Rogersville – 57
(Knoxville) (AP) – Tennessee figured out a solution for its season-long struggles in close games.
Blow everyone out.
Antonio Barton scored 16 points and Jarnell Stokes had a double-double Saturday as Tennessee trounced Missouri 72-45 to win its fourth straight game and boost its NCAA tournament hopes.
Tennessee (20-11, 11-7 SEC) hasn’t trailed at any point during its winning streak. Its last three victories have been decided by a total of 93 points, marking the first time since 1965 that the Volunteers have won three consecutive SEC games by that large a combined margin.
“It’s showing what we’re capable of,” Barton said. “We had our ups and downs earlier in the season, but we’re capitalizing now.”
Tennessee hasn’t locked up an NCAA bid yet because of its inability to win close games. The Volunteers are 3-10 in games with single-digit margins and 0-5 in games decided by five points or fewer.
The Vols finally won a close game Feb. 26 with a 75-68 victory at Mississippi State that began their current streak. Since then, Tennessee has been punishing opponents.
Tennessee had won 76-38 at home over Vanderbilt and 82-54 at Auburn before Saturday’s rout.
Both Tennessee and Missouri (21-10, 9-9) were perceived to be on the NCAA tournament bubble, raising the stakes in this regular-season finale for both teams. The Vols hope their surge has sent a message to the selection committee, but they’re not looking that far ahead.
By winning Saturday, Tennessee clinched the No. 4 seed in the SEC tournament that starts Wednesday in Atlanta. Tennessee hasn’t advanced beyond the SEC quarterfinals the last three years.
“I definitely feel like we’re one of those teams that can go in the tournament and do damage,” said Stokes, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. “But we have the SEC tournament to play. I want this year to be different for us. Go to the SEC tournament, do some damage and play like we’re capable of playing.”
Tennessee had lost 75-70 at Missouri on Feb. 15, but Saturday’s rematch bore no resemblance to that game.
Missouri’s Jabari Brown, who entered the day leading the SEC with 20.1 points per game, shot 1 of 10 and was held to eight points. Brown scored 24 points against Tennessee last month.
The Tigers shot 56.5 percent in their first game with Tennessee. Missouri shot 32 percent (15 of 47) overall and was 2 of 17 from 3-point range Saturday while recording its lowest point total of the season. Tennessee’s last three opponents have shot 30.7 percent (46 of 150) and have averaged 45.7 points.
“The last 3 1/2 games, we’ve been playing great basketball on both ends of the floor, really defending,” Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. “This is what I envision defensively. When you completely buy in and sell yourself to the team, you can defend at a high level.”
Barton missed all seven of his field-goal attempts and scored two points against Missouri on Feb.15. He continued his recent hot streak Saturday by shooting 4 of 7 from 3-point range. Over his last three games, Barton has gone 13 of 22 on 3-pointers.
“He’s playing at a level so much better than he was before,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “They’re still the same team otherwise in terms of what they do … but I think Antonio Barton was the difference. We didn’t play well, but they played good. Antonio Barton is light years above where he was.”
Jordan Clarkson led Missouri with 13 points.
Tennessee took control of this game early by dominating Missouri on the boards and from behind the arc.
Stokes nearly outrebounded Missouri by himself in the first half, when he got all 10 of his boards. Tennessee outrebounded Missouri 23-12 in the first half and 45-28 overall.
“My goal was to get 20 coming into the game,” Stokes said. “I felt like this was a game I could go out and dominate on the glass. The second half, I don’t think I got any rebounds, but I feel like Missouri sort of let up on the glass in the second half, and as a result, it was almost as if I was competing with my teammates for rebounds.”
Tennessee also outscored Missouri 18-3 from 3-point range in the first half.
Missouri briefly threatened when Tennessee star guard Jordan McRae picked up his third foul on a Ryan Rosburg three-point play that cut the Vols’ lead to 39-25 with 17:25 remaining. Tennessee responded with a 10-0 run to put the game away.
(St. Louis) (AP) – In January, Missouri State gave unbeaten Wichita State its closest call. Nothing close about this one.
The Bears were done early in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament semifinals after getting steamrolled by the nation’s lone unbeaten team.
“It’s just a whole other level,” forward Christian Kirk said after a 67-42 loss to the second-ranked and top-seeded Shockers on Saturday. “We’ve been trying to get there with our program the past two or three years, and I think it just sets a standard for the whole Valley.”
Cleanthony Early scored 20 points with three 3-pointers and a pair of dunks, and Wichita State improved to 33-0 with little resistance.
Missouri State trailed 13-12 with 8:49 to go in the first half before it all fell apart. The Bears (20-12) likely have done enough to get a chance to rid that bad taste.
“Yeah, we definitely have to bounce back,” guard Austin Ruder said. “I don’t think we just chalk it up to being Wichita State because we competed with them at our place, and we feel like we can compete with anybody in the nation.”
Missouri State was hampered by injuries to two key players. Jarmar Gulley, who leads the team with a 14.7-point average, had five points in 14 minutes before leaving with a jaw injury. Keith Pickens was scoreless and played three minutes because of a groin injury.
“They’re two of our best guys,” forward Kirk said. “That’s pretty tough.”
Tekele Cotton also made three 3-pointers for the Shockers, who matched the start by Larry Bird and Indiana State in 1979 before they lost to Michigan State and Magic Johnson in the NCAA title game. Wichita State will be heavily favored against Indiana State or Southern Illinois to make it 34 in a row, which would match the NCAA-record start by UNLV in 1990-91.
The Shockers, who last won the conference tourney in 1987, took control with a 17-0 run in the first half and topped it with 24 straight points in the second, scoring at will while Missouri State endured droughts totaling more than 15 minutes.
Missouri State led by 19 points at home against Wichita State in January, before losing by three in overtime.
The Bears got away with 33 percent shooting in the quarterfinals against Illinois State but were blown out shooting 31 percent against the Shockers.
Gavin Thurman led Missouri State with nine points. Ruder was held to four points on 2-for-7 shooting after going 6 for 12 from 3-point range and scoring 21 points in the quarterfinals.
Wichita State went to the Final Four as a No. 9 seed last season and is closing in on a No. 1 seed this March.
Early had his two dunks, celebrating a bit on the way back down court each time, and was among seven players scoring during the 24-0 run that made it 61-23 with 8:58 to go.
The Shockers were 8 for 10 from 3-point range in the first half, with five of them coming in the 17-0 run. Marshall said it was actually 8 for 8 because the two misses were with the shot clock about to expire.
“I thought we did some really good things in the first half defensively,” coach Paul Lusk said. “They just hit some unbelievable shots.
“When they’re rolling like that, they’re going to be tough to deal with.”
Missouri State went more than 6 1/2 minutes without a point before Thurman scored in the lane with 2:13 to go in the half. The Bears trailed 33-19 at the half, their lowest first-half scoring output this season.
(Denver) (AP) – Ryan Miller used his head with the game on the line.
No, really, his head. Late in the game, the St. Louis goalie craned his neck into the air to block a shot, taking a puck square in the mask.
Anything for a win, especially this late in the season.
Miller stopped 26 shots, and David Backes broke up a scoreless game in the second period, helping the Blues beat the surging Avalanche 2-1 on Saturday in a Central Division showdown.
“I’m just trying to fit in,” Miller nonchalantly said. “I’m not here to save the day or anything.”
But he has excelled since being acquired from Buffalo last week. He is 4-0 thanks to plays like he made late in the third period with his team ahead by a goal.
Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog got loose in front, and while falling to one knee, tried to lift a shot past Miller. But the veteran rose up to thwart the shot.
He was just getting warmed up, too, for the division-leading Blues. Miller withstood a furious rally by the Avalanche in the final two minutes after they pulled goalie Semyon Varlamov.
“I’m here to become part of this club and work my way in, keep good habits,” Miller said. “I’ve played a long time and think I have a lot to offer. That’s my job right now.”
The more chaos around Miller, the more he seemed to calm down. That is one of his best attributes, coach Ken Hitchcock said.
“His whole disposition calms everybody down,” Hitchcock said. “He’s good. There’s a reason he’s won so many games.”
With the Blues up 2-0 early in the third, after Patrik Berglund added a pivotal insurance goal, Miller appeared headed toward his first shutout in nearly two years. But Colorado solved Miller when P.A. Parenteau lifted a shot over him.
“He’s been solid back there,” Backes said. “Doing everything that world-class goalies do.”
Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon had his point streak snapped at 13 games. It is the NHL’s longest streak by an 18-year-old player.
It was a frustrating afternoon for the Avs as their four-game winning streak was halted. They also lost one of their top offensive players when Paul Stastny went out with a back injury after his opening shift.
“That was disappointing, but we didn’t hang our heads, we just moved forward,” forward Matt Duchene said. “It’s a game of inches and they got a little more inches than us.”
Colorado coach Patrick Roy felt the same way.
“Sometimes you aren’t always rewarded for the way you play and your effort,” Roy said. “I thought we had better chances than them. I thought we deserved as much to win, and they did.”
Berglund gave St. Louis a 2-0 cushion at 3:53 of the final period when he gobbled up the puck down low, spun and lined it over the glove of Varlamov.
Moments later, Parenteau beat Miller after receiving a pass from Duchene.
That certainly revved up a crowded area, giving the game a playoff feel.
“The fans were into this one,” Landeskog said. “We left our best out there on the ice.”
St. Louis made it 1-0 at 7:03 of the second period on a play set up by a long pass from defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who has thrived against his former team since he was traded three years ago.
Deep in his own end, Shattenkirk sent a pass to T.J. Oshie, who, as he was falling down, slid the puck to Backes. From there, Backes guided the puck past Varlamov’s left skate.
Shattenkirk has four goals and five assists in 12 games against Colorado.
Both teams had a failed power play in the first period and eight shots. Miller had the save of the period when he stopped a point-blank shot from Parenteau with his left shoulder.
“It’s great to contribute,” Miller said. “I wanted to come in and contribute.”
(St. Louis) (AP) – Khristian Smith tipped in a missed Justin Gant jumper with 14 seconds remaining to give No. 2 seed Indiana State a 62-59 win over sixth-seeded Southern Illinois in the semifinal round of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament Saturday.
Desmar Jackson had a look at a 3-point jumper with 3 seconds left but missed as Gant had his hands in Jackson’s face.
Indiana State won the right to face No. 2 Wichita State in the tournament championship game Sunday. Undefeated Wichita State, now 33-0, routed Missouri State 67-42 in the other semifinal game.
Jake Odum, who made three straight free throws in the closing minutes, led Indiana State (23-9) with 20 points and Gant added 13.
Jackson, who made only 1 of 10 field goal attempts, made two free throws to pull Southern Illinois within one, 60-59 with 45 seconds left.
Anthony Beane had 16 points for Southern Illinois (14-19).