With three games separating first through eighth place with five weeks to play in the regular season, the race is wide open in MIAA men’s basketball.  No. 18 Central Missouri (15-3, 8-3 MIAA) can take sole possession of first place if the Mules can defend their home court Wednesday (Jan. 28) when Missouri Southern (16-5, 6-5 MIAA) visits.

With No. 9 Southwest Baptist (15-3, 8-3 MIAA) idle until Saturday (Jan. 31) at Southern, the Mules can get a half-game edge on the Bearcats with a win over the Lions. Central Missouri has won its last three games.

UCM lost at Southern the first time these squads met through a buzzer-beater, 71-70, back on Dec. 6. The Lions were in the midst of a season-opening 12-game win streak at the time, but MSSU has won just twice in the last six games.

SBU ended the Lions’ 12-game win streak in their first meeting at Bolivar, when the Bearcats handed Southern a 105-65 setback on Dec. 29.

FIRST REGIONAL RANKING OUT WEDNESDAY: The first NCAA Division II South Central Region ranking is scheduled to be released Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 28).

The South Central Region consists of the MIAA, Lone Star Conference and Heartland Conference. Each conference has an automatic berth to the regional tournament — the other five teams to advance to the eight-team bracket will be determined by their regional ranking.

MULES DEFEAT SBU IN TOP 25 SHOWDOWN: The 24th-ranked Central Missouri Mules got their revenge on Saturday (Jan. 24) with a 93-82 upset of No. 6 Southwest Baptist in front of 4,813 fans at the UCM Multipurpose Building.

Central Missouri avenged a loss earlier in the season to the Bearcats with the win and moved into a tie for first place in the conference standings.

The Mules shot 62 percent in the second half after trailing by as many as seven in the first half. UCM had a 13-point lead in the final stanza, thanks in part to 6-of-8 shooting from the three-point line and by going 19-of-24 at the foul line.

Senior Gs Joe Young and DeAndre Byrd each scored 19 points to lead UCM — Young had 17 in the second half alone.

Senior G D’Ante Harris led all scorers with 22 points for SBU. Senior F Johnnie Harris added 15.

Team-by-Team Notes
Central Missouri: Senior G Joe Young has averaged 18.3 points over his last eight games… The Mules commit just 11.3 turnovers per game — fewest in Division II… Junior G Alex Moosman is sixth in Division II in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.42)… The 93 points vs. SBU marked just the third time this season that UCM scored more than 90.

Missouri Southern: The Lions snapped a three-game skid with the win over Truman in spite of being held to their lowest scoring output of the season (57)… Sophomore G Skyler Bowlin is averaging 19 points in his last four games… Southern is just 17-of-88 (19.3 percent) from the three-point line in its five losses.

Missouri Western: Junior F Quentin Noblin was 5-of-6 from the three-point line vs. PSU — he had made just three of his previous 22 tries before that game… The win over the Gorillas snapped a four-game slide for Western… Sophomore F Dominique Thuston has scored at least 13 points in six of his last seven games.

Northwest Missouri State: Senior F Hunter Henry needs 44 points to become the sixth Bearcat to reach 1,500 career points… Junior G Mike Larsen is averaging 5.8 assists in his last five games… Northwest is 16-3 in rematches with MIAA foes since 2006-07… The Bearcats haven’t started the same lineup in four straight games this season.

Southwest Baptist: The Bearcats are third in Division II scoring (90.6 ppg) — one of five teams averaging at least 90 as of 1/25… Senior G D’Ante Harris posted back-to-back 20-point efforts for the first time this season (26 at MWSU, 22 vs. SBU)… Junior F Matthew Rogers leads D-II in blocks (4.1 bspg), but has just 18 in his last seven (2.6 bspg).

Truman: Freshman C Vesko Filchev logged career-highs in scoring (17) and rebounds (9) in the loss to UCM… The Bulldogs were held to a season-low 46 points by the Mules… The 57-51 loss to Southern was Truman’s first when holding a foe to 60 points or less (3-1)… The Bulldogs shot a season-low 30.2 percent from the field vs. UCM.