Missouri State (17-8, 7-6) took over sole possession of third place in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 69-63 win over visiting Drake as Bears’ senior Keith Pickens contributed a game-high 18 points off the bench. Pickens, a St. Louis native, also had seven rebounds, four blocks and a pair of steals while going 8-of-9 at the foul line. Christian Kirk added 12 points for MSU, while Jarmar Gulley notched his 11th straight double-figure scoring game with 11 points.
Free throw shooting and rebounding made the difference as MSU finished 23-for-29 (.793) at the line, including 5-of-6 in the final 3 minutes. The Bears also out-rebounded DU by a 35-27 margin, including 12 on the offensive end that led to 9 Missouri State second-chance points.
The Bears close out the two-game home stand on Saturday at 8 p.m., when they host the Northern Iowa Panthers (12-13, 6-7) in a nationally-televised ESPNU game.