GAME NOTES: After winning their season opener last week on the road, the Missouri State Bears will make their home debut on Saturday night in a non- conference bout with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa opened up its season on Sunday in a matchup with Oral Roberts, but it disappointed the home crowd by suffering a 74-68 setback. It wasn't the start the Golden Hurricane were looking for coming off a promising 2012-13 campaign in which they went 17-16 overall and earned a spot in the College Basketball Invitational.
On the other hand, Missouri State was able to put a lackluster 2012-13 season (11-22) in the past at the start of the new campaign by claiming a 79-67 overtime win at Old Dominion last Friday. The Bears will enjoy a four-game homestand before participating in the Corpus Christi Challenge at the end of the month.
Missouri State leads the all-time series with Tulsa, 20-18, although the Golden Hurricane claimed victory in last season's matchup, 61-42.
Despite trailing for most of its opening contest, Tulsa was able to take a 58-57 lead with 4:09 remaining on a pair of D'Andre Wright free throws, but from there Oral Roberts ran off seven unanswered points to pull away. The Golden Hurricane shot an impressive 50 percent from the field in the loss, but they were just 1-of-9 from 3-point range and could not take advantage of their ample opportunities at the foul line (17-of-36). Rashad Smith led the way with 19 points despite a dismal showing at the charity stripe (3-of-11), while Shaquille Harrison netted 18 points on 8-of-13 from the floor. Smith expects to be the leading scorer this season, but he hopes he can stay healthy long enough after playing just four games during the 2012-13 campaign (14.5 ppg) before suffering a season-ending foot injury.
Although Missouri State allowed an eight-point lead against ODU to dissipate down the stretch, it was able to dominate the overtime period, 16-4, on its way to a solid season-opening victory. The team shot just 39 percent from the field, but made the most of its 3-point attempts (7-of-16), cashed in at the foul line (26-of-36), and won the rebounding battle (52-44). Marcus Marshall and Jarmar Gulley led the effort with 18 points apiece, with Gulley ripping down nine boards as well. Austin Ruder chipped in 14 points, with all four of his made field goals coming from beyond the arc. Tyler McCullough was solid in the paint, narrowly missing a double-double (nine points, nine rebounds) while blocking two shots. The Bears hope that the new campaign brings more scoring success than they had in 2012-13 (59.6 ppg), as Marshall (11.5 ppg) continues to develop as a sophomore.
Although defeating a lackluster ODU squad is hardly a noteworthy accomplishment, any road victory is a good victory for a team coming off an 11-win season. Making their much-anticipated home debut, the improved Bears should have enough to secure a 2-0 start.
Game Date and Time