KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Three MIAA men's basketball squads will be staying home for Thanksgiving and welcoming a few guests by hosting holiday weekend tournaments.
After being guests of Pittsburg State (3-0, 0-0 MIAA) for the PSU Classic last weekend, Missouri Southern (3-0, 0-0 MIAA) will have the Gorillas over to the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center for the Freeman Sports Medicine Chris Tucker Memorial Classic.
MSSU will take on Maryville (Mo.) on Friday (Nov. 23), after the Gorillas face Mid-America Christian (Okla.). The two teams swap foes for Saturday (Nov. 24) night.
The Washburn Ichabods (2-1, 0-0 MIAA) will host Missouri Western (2-0, 0-0 MIAA) for the AM-580 WIBW Radio /Premier Mortgage Holiday Classic at Lee Arena, after the Griffons had WU over last weekend for the MWSU Hillyard Classic.
Western plays Kansas Wesleyan on Friday, while Washburn faces Missouri Baptist. They'll exchange opponents for the next day.
Central Missouri (2-0. 0-0 MIAA) hosts the Holiday Inn Express KOKO /98.5 The Bar Thanksgiving Classic at the Multipurpose Building. The Mules will face Tabor (Kan.) on Friday after Central Bible (Mo.) takes on Lincoln (Mo.).
UCM and LU will face off in a regional battle Saturday night.
Three schools are hitting the road for holiday tournament action.
Truman (0-2, 0-0 MIAA) will be playing on Thanksgiving Thursday (Nov. 22) at the South Dakota Thanksgiving Classic against the host Coyotes. The Bulldogs get Augustana (S.D.) the next day.
No. 4-ranked Northwest Missouri State (3-0, 0-0 MIAA) heads to the Southern Indiana Thanksgiving Classic Friday. The Bearcats play the host and 10th-ranked Screaming Eagles on Friday, followed by Kentucky Wesleyan the next day.
Southwest Baptist (1-1, 0-0 MIAA) heads south for the Southwestern Oklahoma State Tournament for a pair of South Central region match-ups. The Bearcats open with Central Oklahoma on Friday, and then get the host Bulldogs the following day.
Two schools are staying home for the Holidays -- No. 23 Emporia State (2-0, 0-0 MIAA) and Fort Hays State (1-1, 0-0 MIAA).
The Hornets are idle until Saturday, when Midwestern (Texas) State comes to White Auditorium for a regional match-up. The FHSUTigers host Bethel (Kan.) Wednesday (Nov. 21), and don't play again until Friends (Kan.) visits Gross Memorial Coliseum Tuesday (Nov. 27).
MULES CLAIM A DIVISION I VICTIM: Though it was only an exhibition for the Central Missouri Mules, it counted for their foe in the O'Reilly Auto Parts/CBE Classic consolation game, as UCM defeated Division I Central Michigan, 75-70, Nov. 13 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
The Mules forced nine Central Michigan turnovers and held them to 32 percent from the field in the first half. The Chippewas used a 26-18 rebound advantage and held UCM to 34 percent shooting to keep the margin close at the break.
With CMU leading 15-10, the Mules went on a 9-0 run to capture the lead and extended that to as much as 27-20 with 2:08 remaining in the period.
The Chippewas' Chase Simon hit a three with two seconds left in the half to close the gap. He had 12 in the half. The Mules were led by Carvelle Taylor and Paul Banister with six apiece while Tremaine Luellen had five points in the first two minutes before sitting the remainder of the half due to early foul trouble.
The Chippewas came out charging in the second half as expected, but Central Missouri withstood the run, only allowing CMU to grab only a couple brief two-point leads before answering.
Luellen laid one in with 13:22 remaining to give the lead back to the Mules, while Skip Thomas followed that with a dunk off a dish from Kevin Wollbrinck on the next possession. Central Michigan would not lead the rest of the night.
The Mules broke the final tie of the game at the 7:07 mark on another Luellen layup. They would stretch the margin to as much as eight with 4:02 remaining but the Chippewas had another run in them, thanks to the Mid-American Conference Preseason Player of the Year in Giordan Watson.
He drilled four three pointers (two that banked in off the glass) and had 14 points in the final 3:47 of the game.
Wollbrinck was big down the stretch to counter that for the Mules though, grabbing big rebounds and forcing turnovers, including a steal from Watson with 1:08 left.
The Mules finished off the Chippewas by simply hitting their free throws to seal the win.
Central Michigan was picked to win the MAC West Division by Sporting News and is ranked preseason No. 24 in the Mid-Major national poll by collegeinsider.com.
Luellen led the Mules with 16 points, while Taylor added 15 and Thomas had 14 with four blocked shots. Nathan Frazier added 13 points off the bench. Wollbrinck led Central Missouri with 10 rebounds and four assists.
LIONS STEAL AWAY TO A SCHOOL RECORD: The Missouri Southern Lions set a school record for single-game steals en route to an 86-43 win over Central Bible (Mo.) Tuesday night (Nov. 20) at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
The Spartans committed 38 turnovers -- 27 of which were courtesy of steals by the Lions. That is one better than the previous school record of 26, set in 1998-99 season against Ozark Christian (Mo.).
Missouri Southern shot 59 percent from the field for the second time in as many games -- led by junior G Tony Webb's 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting. Senior G Octavius Hawkins, a transfer from Missouri-St. Louis, added 13 points.
TIP-INS: Pittsburg State senior F/C Cory Abercrombie is averaging 17.7 points on 71.9 percent shooting from the field in the Gorillas' three wins... Northwest Missouri State junior F Hunter Henry was 11-for-11 from the field in the Bearcats' win over Saint Mary (Kan.) Saturday (Nov. 17) -- the MIAA record for consecutive makes is 15... Emporia State senior G Wes Book just missed a triple-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists vs. Eastern New Mexico Saturday.
MIAA Men's Basketball Player of the Week
For the week of action ending Nov. 18
Reggie Bunch, F
Missouri Western State University
Bunch, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound sophomore from Racine, Wis., was named Most Valuable Player at the MWSU Hillyard Classic last weekend after averaging 20.5 points and 12.0 rebounds in the two wins.
He scored 19 points with nine rebounds, two steals and one assist in his Griffons debut, a 76-69 win Friday (Nov. 16) against Upper Iowa. Bunch shot 7-of-14 from the floor, and five of his nine boards were on the offensive glass.
In the come-from-behind, 78-77 win Saturday over Lincoln (Mo.), Bunch scored 22 points and hauled in 15 rebounds (eight offensive). He was 7-of-12 from the field and 8-of-10 at the foul line.
He scored four of Western's nine points in the final two minutes, as the Griffons came back from a three-point deficit.
For the week, Bunch shot 53.8 percent from the field and 68.4 percent from the charity stripe.
Bunch is a graduate of St. Catherine's High School, and transferred to Western from Southwestern Illinois College after his freshman season.
Others Nominated: Cory Abercrombie, F/C, PSU; Vincent Ateba, F, MSSU; Wes Book, G, ESU; Jim Grabowski, F, SBU; Hunter Henry, F, NWMSU; Tremaine Luellen, G, UCM; Mario Scott, G, WU.
-- MIAA --