Morning Sun
  • PSU men return to action on a six-game roll

  • The Pittsburg State Gorillas play their first game of 2013 tonight against Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association newcomer Nebraska-Kearney.

    The men tip at approximately 7:30 p.m. at John Lance Arena.

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  • The Pittsburg State Gorillas play their first game of 2013 tonight against Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association newcomer Nebraska-Kearney.
    The men tip at approximately 7:30 p.m. at John Lance Arena.
    The Gorillas and the Lopers have met 30 previous times with Nebraska-Kearney owning a 24-6 series advantage; the schools last met in 1998, a game Pitt State won 83-75. The Gorillas are 5-10 at home against the Lopers, 1-13 on the road.
    Pitt State enters its 11th game this season tied with Northeastern State for the best overall record in the MIAA at 9-1 and tied with the RiverHawks and two other teams (Northwest Missouri, Fort Hays State) for best conference record at 2-0.
    The Gorillas own the conference’s longest winning streak of six games, since a 10-point loss at home to undefeated Newman. (Pitt State, Emporia State, Fort Hays State and Washburn share common ground with Jerry Seinfeld — Newman as their nemesis.)
    Looking at the numbers this season for Pitt State, two areas immediately jump out: free throws and rebounds.
    The Gorillas have attempted an MIAA-best 329 free throws (32.9 per contest). OK, that’s impressive enough but the Gorillas’ 240 made free throws are still more than 13 of the 15 MIAA teams’ total free throw attempts. Only Central Oklahoma (268) and Lindenwood (243) have attempted more free throws than Pitt State has made. Pitt State and Southwest Baptist have each played 10 games — the Gorillas have a 329-139 free throw advantage over the Bearcats, for example.
    Pitt State receives 30 percent of its total offense from made free throws.
    The Gorillas lead the conference in rebounding at 43.5 per game, standing as the lone MIAA team with over 400 rebounds this season. Pitt State outrebounds its opponents by nearly 10 per game, ranks first in offensive rebounds and ranks second in defensive rebounds.
    The NCAA last updated its statistics on Dec. 17 but at that point in time, Pitt State ranked eighth in Division II in rebounding margin.
    Freshman point guard Kaleb Porter leads the Gorillas and ranks second in the MIAA with a 17.8 scoring average. He’s been the Gorillas’ best 3-point shooter (24-49, .490) and best free throw shooter (56-63, .889).
    Three other Gorillas average over 10 points and seven players average at least 5.4 points.
    Senior wing Courtney Ingram averages 11.7 points and 4.5 rebounds, junior college transfer A.J. Adams 10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds, senior forward JaVon McGee 10.3 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds, senior forward Rico Pierrevilus 7.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and a team-high 1.1 blocks, senior guard Marky Nolen 8.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.6 steals, and sophomore point guard Sam Pugh 5.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
    McGee, still affected for most of the early season by a wrist injury on his non-shooting hand, played arguably his best basketball in Vegas against Arkansas-Fort Smith and Dixie State.
    McGee scored a season-high 25 against Fort Smith and grabbed 14 rebounds against Dixie State.
    Page 2 of 2 - Out in Vegas, McGee averaged 18.0 points and 10.5 rebounds; he shot 15-22 (.680) from the floor in Vegas and before Vegas, he shot 23-71 (.320).
    Over his last three games, Pierrevilus has averaged 2.7 blocks, highlighted by four blocks against both Lindenwood and Dixie State. Pierrevilus went without a block against Arkansas-Fort Smith.
    After serving a two-game suspension (Southwestern College, William Jewell), Nolen has averaged 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.3 steals over his four-game return. He’s recorded at least three steals in every game.
    The Gorillas have won two overtime games, including a 85-79 win over Lindenwood in double overtime.
    Nebraska-Kearney owns a 3-7 record, 0-2 in the MIAA. The Lopers won their nonconference game Sunday at home against South Dakota Mines, 86-74, their first win since a 75-72 win at home over Colorado Mines. Against schools with Mines in their names, the Lopers are 2-1.
    Four players average double figures in scoring for Nebraska-Kearney: Jon Henderson 16.5, Mike Dentlinger 14.5, Pierre Newton 13.5 and Sami Bzai 10.1. Newton led the Lopers on Sunday with 24 points and eight rebounds.
    Turnovers have been the undoing of the Lopers this season: 157 committed, 105 forced. The Lopers have 110 assists compared to 157 turnovers. With aggressive on-ball defenders for Pitt State like Nolen, ballhandling will be crucial for Nebraska-Kearney in determining its fate.
    Tom Kropp and Kevin Lofton share head coaching duties. Kropp, a member of the Kearney coaching staff in one capacity or another since the 1980s, was one of the great Nebraska athletes in his heyday and was drafted by the NBA, the ABA and the NFL. Lofton and Kropp have shared coaching duties at UNK since the 2005-2006 season, with Lofton to succeed Kropp at some point.
    Pitt State won its first two MIAA games against newcomers Central Oklahoma and Lindenwood.