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(Photo Courtesy of MIssouri State Bears)

With Drake’s 84-74 win in Des Moines on Jan. 29, the Bulldogs snapped a 7-game Bears win streak in a rivalry that dates back to 1986. Missouri State leads the series 37-11, including a 21-1 mark in Springfield.

Last year in Springfield, MSU scored a 78-72 decision at JQH as the Bears started four freshmen for the first time in school history to help the team shoot 56.3 percent from the field. Anthony Downing scored 26, Keith Pickens added 19, and MSU knocked down 11 3-pointers. Ben Simons tallied 19 points for Drake, which also got 17 from Micah Mason and 12 from Seth VanDeest.

At the Knapp Center on Jan. 29, Drake went on a 16-2 run late in the game to seal the 10-point win asAustin Ruder scored 21 for MSU on 6-of-9 from 3-point range, while Ron Mvouika scored 13 and Jarmar Gulley added 12. Richard Carter went 16-of-19 at the line to lead DU with 23.

Paul Lusk (Southern Illinois, 1995) is 43-46 in his third season at MSU and 47-69 in his fourth season overall as a head coach.  He is 22-26 in MVC games (14-8 at home, 8-18 on the road), 1-2 in MVC Tournament games and 21-20 in all non-conference games (13-6 at JQH Arena, 6-7 away and 2-7 at neutral sites).  He is also 27-15 in all home games, 14-24 on the road, and 2-7 at neutral sites. He is 4-1 against Drake (2-0 at home).

The 42-year-old Lusk took the reins as MSU’s 17th head coach on April 1, 2011. He came to Springfield after seven seasons at Purdue (2004-11), including his last three as associate head coach there.  Now in his 16th season in the coaching profession, Lusk has previous assistant coaching stops at Southwestern Illinois (1996-97), Missouri Southern (1999-2002) and Southern Illinois (2003-04) in addition to a one-year head coaching stint at Dubuque (2002-03). Lusk has played or coached in 10 NCAA Tournaments.

With the seventh-youngest team in Division I basketball last year, Lusk led MSU to its 42nd straight winning record at home and the fifth-best turnover average in the nation (10.2). The 2012-13 Bears also set high-water marks for most games against ranked opponents with six and the best single-season scoring total for a freshman class in program history (855).

MSU hosts UNI at 8 p.m., Saturday in an ESPNU national telecast before playing its final mid-week road game on Feb. 18 at Illinois State (7:05 p.m.). The Bears return home Feb. 22 against Indiana State (Noon) and Feb. 25 against Loyola (7:05 p.m.) to close out the regular-season home slate.

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