Missouri State sophomore Kyle Weems scored a career-high 30 points, including 24 in the first half, as the Bears (13-3, 3-2) defeated visiting Bradley, 88-69, before 9,111 fans at JQH Arena on Saturday afternoon in Missouri Valley Conference play.
After Jermaine Mallett scored the game’s first basket, Weems scored Missouri State’s next 20 points during a span of less than eight minutes as the Bears jumped out to a 22-14 lead midway through the opening half.
A four-point possession by Bradley at the 7:25 mark cut MSU’s lead to 27-25 before Weems hit a jumper, and Justin Fuehrmeyer gathered a steal and took it to the rim to end the Bradley run.
The Bears went into the intermission with a 52-41 lead, marking the most points by any team in a half at JQH Arena. Weems picked up his second foul at the 6:49 mark and sat the rest of the first half, ending a threat to Jimmie Dull’s school record of 27 points in one half (1977).
The Bears stormed out of the gates the second half and extended their advantage to 16 points just 78 seconds into the second period, 57-41. After a three-pointer by Weems with just under 11 minutes to play put the Bears up 72-53, the Braves would get no closer than 17 the rest of the way.
Weems’ career afternoon overshadowed the effort of junior Nafis Ricks who scored a career-high 15 off the bench, including 6-for-6 at the free throw line. He and Fuehrmeyer accounted for 11 rebounds and 8 assists in the game, all in reserve. Mallett and Adam Leonard also scored 11 for the Bears who snapped a two-game losing streak.
Bradley committed just nine turnovers in the game, but was outrebounded by a 41-27 margin, leading to 24 second-chance points by Missouri State.
The Braves (7-8, 2-3) had four players score in double figures, including 16 by Andrew Warren and 12 apiece by Taylor Brown and Sam Maniscalco.
Weems, who also had a game-high 7 rebounds, played just 22 minutes and matched a career-best in three-pointers and three-point attempts with a 6-for-10 game from beyond the arc.
As a team, the Bears were 10-for-30 (.333) from three-point range and shot .468 (29-for-62) overall. The Bears’ 88 points marked the best offensive output under head coach Cuonzo Martin and most by an MSU squad since a 90-76 home win over Central Michigan in the BracketBusters game in 2008.
After poor free throw shooting haunted the Bears in Wednesday’s home loss to Wichita State, MSU scored 20 of its 24 free throw attempts against Bradley (.833), while BU matched that percentage with 25-of-30 at the charity stripe.
The Bears, who had just five turnovers in the Bradley game, return to the road Tuesday for a 7:05 p.m. game at Drake before a rematch with Bradley next Saturday in Peoria at 2:05 p.m.