College basketball opens tonight for Division I schools across the state, starting with the Missouri State Bears who will play at Nevada. It’s the regular season debut for head coach Paul Lusk. The St. Louis Billikens begin their season at home hosting Tennesee State. Another head coaching debut, of course, Frank Haith will lead the Missouri Tigers against Southeast Missouri State in a 7pm tip at Mizzou Arena. Here’s what the teams are saying about their programs and season openers.
Missouri Basketball officially opens its 106th season as the team hosts the SEMO Redhawks Friday night at Mizzou Arena … The teams have met five times with the Tigers winning all five of those matchups in Columbia … Mizzou and SEMO last met on Dec. 13, 1997, when the Tigers claimed a narrow 65-64 victory.
Frank Haith makes his official debut Friday after he was hired as the programs 17th head coach on April 5, 2011 … Haith owns a 129-101 overall record as a head coach, all coming at Miami (Fla.), where he took the Hurricanes to five postseason appearances and stands as the winningest postseason coach in Miami Basketball program history … The Tigers look to continue a trend of winning in coaching debuts, as MU has an all-time mark of 15-1 in those games.
The Tigers have an all-time record of 83-21 in season openers and 88-15 in home openers … In Mizzou’s last 38 home openers, the Tigers have an impressive mark of 37-1.
Southeast is 9-11 all-time in season-openers since joining the NCAA Division I ranks in 1991-92. The Redhawks have dropped their last five season-opening games, all of which were on the road. Southeast lost to UAB (78-56) in 2010-11, Saint Louis (59-41) in 2009-10, New Mexico (102-59) in 2008-09, Xavier (90-59) in 2007-08 and Arkansas (92-52) in 2006-07 during that stretch. Dickey Nutt is 0-2 in season-openers as the Redhawks head coach. The 2011-12 campaign marks the 21st year for Southeast Missouri at the NCAA Division I level. The Redhawks first joined the NCAA Division I ranks in 1991-91. Southeast is 229-338 (.404) all-time as a NCAA Division I program.
Missouri State opens a new era of men’s basketball on Nov. 11 when first-year head coach Paul Lusk takes his Bears to Nevada for the 2011-12 season opener. Lusk is Missouri State’s 17th head basketball coach and will be making his debut with the Bears against the WAC preseason favorite Wolf Pack.
Friday’s contest is a return game from the 2010 ESPN BracketBusters at JQH Arena, a game the Bears prevailed 62-60 before a national TV audience on ESPN2. MSU is 6-0 all-time in BracketBusters return games, including a 3-0 record on the road.
On Feb. 20, 2010, the Bears trailed Nevada 55-45 with 6:32 remaining before they used the momentum of a technical foul on Nevada’s Armon Johnson to spark the comeback. Will Creekmore tied the game twice in the final 3:03 before Nafis Ricks sank a pair of free throws with three ticks remaining to seal the win. In a battle of super sophomores, Kyle Weems (Sr., F, Topeka, Kan.) had a game-high 17 points with 11 rebounds for MSU, while Luke Babbitt had 16 points and 12 boards for Nevada.
The last Missouri State coach to win his debut game was Barry Hinson on Nov. 20, 1999 when he scored a 58-52 win over New Orleans at Hammons Student Center. The last MSU coach to win his first road game was Mark Bernsen on Dec. 1, 1992 with a 47-44 victory at UMKC.
SLU players will be wearing Easy Ed #50 shooting shirts during warmups tonight in honor of Ed Macauley, who passed away Nov. 8. At halftime, portions of Easy Ed’s speech from last season’s “Ed Macauley Day” will be played on the video boards. In addition, a pregame moment of silence in Macauley’s honor will take place before the national anthem.
The Tigers, out of Nashville, Tenn., were picked to finish fourth in the Ohio Valley Conference in the league’s preseason poll. Last season, TSU went 14-16 overall and 10-8 in the OVC. All key components from that squad return this year, including preseason All-Conference selections Robert Covington and Kenny Moore.