The MSU Bears renews their longest standing rivalry when they meet Southeast Missouri State for the 143rd time in a series that dates back to 1911.
The Bears own an 88-54 advantage in the rivalry, including a 60-12 lead in Springfield. However, this will be just the fifth meeting between the squads as Division I programs (MSU moved up in 1982, SEMO in 1991) and the first-ever meeting at JQH Arena.
The most-recent meeting between the Bears and Redhawks took place on 12/21/02 at the Show-Me Center with the home club taking a 70-53 decision in front of 4,892 fans. Southeast got 17 points from Derek Winans and 15 points and 12 boards from Brandon Griffin while forcing 18 turnovers. The Bears were led by Monwell Randle with 14 points, while current SIU assistant Terrance McGee scored 10 and dished out 7 assists for the visitors.
Austin Ruder, who was 4-of-7 from 3-point range, also contributed to MSU’s seventh straight home victory by adding 12 points.
MSU used solid free throw shooting and rebounding in the second half to put the game out of reach. The Bears finished 25-of-31 (.806) at the foul line and got to the line 25 times in the second half.
After the Bulldogs trimmed a 26-21 halftime deficit to 31-27 on a try by Nicolas West at the 16:40 mark of the second half, Missouri State went on a 16-5 run over the next five-and-a-half minutes to push ahead 47-32. Pickens ended the run with five unanswered points with Ruder and Marshall combining for three 3-pointers in the offensive outburst.
Pickens’ layup at the 11:12 mark would be the Bears’ last field goal for nearly 10 minutes as MSU used an aggressive approach to get to the line 14 times in that span, making 13, and securing a 60-39 advantage with 2:02 to play.
Bruce Marshall ended MSU’s field goal drought with 1:38 left in the game and later knocked down a 3-pointer from the left corner that gave the Bears their biggest lead of the night, 66-43, with 40 seconds remaining.
Missouri State dominated the boards in the second half, doubling the Bulldogs on the glass, 26-13, over the final 20 minutes. Pickens accounted for 14 of his caroms in the second half and finished with the most rebounds by a Bear since Dale Lamberth pulled down 16 against Bradley on Jan. 2, 2008.
Despite shooting an even 9-for-18 from the field in the second half, the Bears finished 17-of-50 (.340) after a slow start. MSU was 9-of-20 (.450) beyond the arc and matched a season-high with 14 turnovers.
In the first half, both teams used significant runs to account for most of their scoring. Missouri State stormed out of the gates to take a 12-2 lead less than 8 minutes into the contest. After MSU pushed ahead 14-5, AAMU reeled off 7 unanswered points to pull within 14-12 at the 7:58 mark before a 10-0 outburst by the Bears gave the home squad a 24-12 advantage with just under five minutes to go. The Bulldogs ended the half on a 9-2 run to pull within 26-21 at the break.
MSU opens Missouri Valley Conference play at home on Thursday, Jan. 2 against Illinois State at 7:05 p.m. The Bears and Redbirds split two meetings last season, including an 86-50 ISU win in Normal in the most-recent matchup (2/27/13).
The Bears then take to the road for a pair of Valley games at league newcomer Loyola (Sun., Jan. 5) and Bradley (Wed., Jan. 8).