Missouri State (26-8) had four players in double figures and shot better than 55 percent from the field to secure an 89-76 win over visiting Murray State at JQH Arena in Springfield on Tuesday in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Jermaine Mallett led all players with a career-high 23 points, while Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Kyle Weems added 14. The Bears also got 12 points off the bench from freshman Nathan Scheer. Will Creekmore added 13 points for Missouri State, while Nafis Ricks added 12 points and 8 assists with no turnovers.
Missouri State was 12-for-12 at the free throw line in the final 5:05 and finished 27-for-33 (.818) at the stripe. The Bears finished 27-for-49 (.551) from the field and 8-for-18 (.444) from bonus distance as four players hit two treys apiece. The Bears also owned a 32-22 rebounding advantage and committed just nine turnovers.
The win improved the Bears’ home record to 16-1 this season and 35-3 over the past two seasons. Coach Cuonzo Martin’s squad will await the result of Wednesday’s other first-round game between No. 2 seed Miami (Fla.) and No. 7 Florida Atlantic. Missouri State will play the winner of that game with hosting a home game if Florida Atlantic wins.