January 18, 2013

Lions re-kindle old rivalry and play host to Nebraska-Kearney Saturday

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Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern men's basketball program will face off against Nebraska-Kearney for the first time since 1989 as the Lions will restart a rivalry between the old conference foes and play host to the Lopers at 3 pm this Saturday in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. 

The Lions Last Time Out (9-5, 4-2 MIAA): Missouri Southern junior guard Marquis Addison scored a career-high 34 points, 23 in the first half, and the Lions defeated visiting Pittsburg State 87-80 tonight in a Sonic Trophy Series matchup at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. Southern (9-5, 4-2 MIAA) scored the first four points, and led by six (11-5) after a three from Addison with 16:26 left in the first half. A dunk from JaVon McGee gave Pitt a 23-22 lead with 11:24 left in the half and the Gorillas (11-4, 4-3 MIAA) led again at 25-24 with 9:15, but that would be the last lead Pitt would have. Southern went ahead on free-throws from Addison and Cameron Cornelius, and led by 11 after a layup from Addison with 2:45 left. The Lions took a 42-37 lead into the locker room. Addison scored 23 in the first half, but three quick fouls to start the second half put him on the bench for most of the second half. The Lions, however, didn't relinquish the lead. Pitt got to within one, three times, but the Lions closed out the game on a 14-8 run.Addison led all scorers with 34 points on 10-14 from the field, 4-5 from the three-point line and a perfect 10-10 from the charity stripe. He added five rebounds, four steals and an assist. Stephen Atkinson scored 21 points, while Cameron Cornelius scored 13.

The Lopers Last Time Out (4-11, 1-6 MIAA): The Central Missouri Mules sunk 11 three pointers and used two big runs to get past the Nebraska-Kearney men's basketball team, 78-64, Wednesday night at the Health & Sports Center. UCM (11-3, 5-1) now sits atop the MIAA standings thanks to a five-game winning streak. Playing the Mules for the first time since 1979, the Lopers fall to 4-11 (1-6). UNK, scoring 15 second chance points on 16 offensive caroms, got 16 points from Newton, who fouled out late. Dentlinger made 6 of 11 shots to reach his point total with Kearney sophomore Tyler Shields recording his second double double of the winter (10 points & 10 rebounds).

The Coaches: In his 24th season as head coach at Missouri Southern, Robert Corn has guided the Lions to 19 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Postseason Tournament berths (14 straight) and four trips to the NCAA Division II Tournament.  The 1999-00 Division II Bulletin National Coach of the Year, he holds a career record of 384-288 (.559) at Southern, and is the winningest head coach in Lions basketball history. A 1978 graduate of Southern, he has led Southern to eight 20-win seasons. His 1999-2000 team went 30-3 and advanced to the NCAA-II Elite Eight semifinals. Corn is fifth on the all-time MIAA wins list and third among active MIAA coaches. He is a three-time MIAA Coach of the Year winner, including a unanimous selection in 2010-11. 

The 2012-13 season will be Tom Kropp's 33rd year as a member of the Kearney State College/University of Nebraska at Kearney men's basketball coaching staff. He served as a graduate assistant for two years (1977-79) and an assistant for seven years (1983-1990).From 1990-96 he was co-head coach with Jerry Hueser, and the duo posted a 111-60 record. Kropp was then the head coach of UNK from 1997-06, leading the Lopers to an impressive 215-60 record. In 2005-06, he and Kevin Lofton were named co-head coaches of the UNK program. Lofton will succeed Kropp as head coach at some future date. He has a 442-203 career record at the school. 

The Series: Nebraska-Kearney leads the all-time series 17-9 between the two schools, but the teams have not played against each other since the 1988-89 season. Southern is 7-6 at home and 2-11 on the road and UNK has won the last five games in a row in the series.