O-Zone Opinion


Could Drury beat Missouri State?

In the aftermath of Drury’s run to the National Championship, a common topic has arisen in the area.

In a one game scenario, could the Panthers beat Missouri State?

Naturally, my first inclination is to say no. The difference between the mid-major, D-1 Bears and Drury, who plays in arguably the best D-2 conference in the nation is great.

Don’t get me wrong, Missouri State has the more acclaimed roster.

But in one game...forty minutes…for everything and nothing all in one, could Drury beat the Bears?

Let’s take a look at some facts.

Despite setting the single-season record for losses (22), Missouri State wasn’t as bad as its record indicated.

In Paul Lusk’s second season at the helm, the Bears dropped four games by one possession or in overtime, which is typical for a young team (Missouri State had just one senior and routinely played six freshmen). In total, they lost 11 games by 10 points or less.

Also, more than a third of Missouri State’s losses came against NCAA Tournament qualifiers; Wichita State (3), Creighton (2), Oklahoma State, San Diego State, and New Mexico State. The Bears strength of scheduled was ranked No. 67 out of 347 NCAA D-1 institutions.

The Bears also boast one of the Valley’s best backcourts in senior Anthony Downing (13.7 PPG) and freshman Marcus Marshall (11.5 PPG).

Both combo guards possess the ability to break defenses down off the dribble to create for themselves or others, as well as the ability to shoot it from deep. Marshall, who was the MVC Freshman of the Year, scored 25 points in Missouri State’s 69-59 loss to Final Four bound Wichita State in the MVC Tournament.

Missouri State also had a bigger, more athletic frontcourt with a pair of 6-foot-7 forwards in sophomore Christian Kirk and freshman Gavin Thurman. Both received major D-1 attention before signing with the Bears.

In addition, the Bears averaged a conference-low 10.2 turnovers per game, and had the fourth-best scoring defense (64.7 PPG) in the Valley; both have been staples for Lusk since arriving in Springfield.

However, Drury wasn’t the Division 2 National Champions by accident.

The Panthers have an elite backcourt of their own in seniors Alex Hall and Brandon Lockhart.

Hall, a D-2 All-American and NCAA Tournament MVP, led the GLVC in scoring (20.3 PPG) and 3-point field goals made (125; also a school-record).

Lockhart was second on the Panthers in scoring (12.5 PPG), but led the GLVC in assists (6.1 APG) and steals (2.9 SPG).

Drury also was one of the nation’s top scoring teams (81.3 PPG) and can do it in a variety of ways. The Panthers led the GLVC in field goal percentage (51%), 3-point makes and percentage (294 at 43%).

This may be a shock to those who watched Drury’s 107-97 shootout win over Western Washington in the Final Four, but Steve Hesser’s squad was also stout defensively.

The Panthers allowed just 64 PPG on 41% shooting and had a GLVC best +17.3 average scoring margin. On 13 different occasions Drury held opponents to 60 points or less.

Even with all that being said, could Drury top their crosstown counterparts?

History, however irrelevant in this case, would say so.

In 35 all-time meetings Missouri State has a slight edge, 18-17, including taking the Feb. 18, 1984 meeting 61-41, the last time the two squads met on the hardwood.

Also, in recent years many top D-2 programs have set the precedent for not only being able to compete, but beat D-1 programs.

In 2010, Bellarmine University beat the Atlantic 10’s Xavier on its way to a D-2 national championship.

We all remember back in 2008 SBU beat Utah 80-79 in Salt Lake City. That season, the Utes went on to claim a Mountain West Championship and made it to the NCAA Tournament, falling to Arizona in the first round.

Not even BCS conference schools have been immune from the occasional D-2 loss. In recent years Michigan State, Syracuse, and Texas have all caught the upset bug.

Michigan State, which was ranked No. 8 at the time, lost a double overtime contest to Grand Valley State in 2007. Then, just two years later, Syracuse fell 79-78 to Le Moyne. Both Michigan State and Syracuse would advance to the Sweet 16 in those respective years.

Texas was blasted by Chaminade in this year’s Maui Invitational, losing to the Silver Swords 86-73, in a game in which they trailed by as many 19 points.

In college basketball there are three major tenants to an upset; tempo, 3-point shooting, and paint presence.

If you look at the 2013 NCAA Tournament runs made by Wichita State and Florida Golf Coast, each made it a point to dominate at least one of these areas.

While Missouri State was great about not turning the ball over and controlling pace, the Bears’ inability to consistently rebound and knock down shots would hurt them.

The Bears ranked last in the Valley in scoring (59.6 PPG) and rebounds (29.7 RPG). In fact, both outputs were among the bottom 20 in the nation. Missouri State’s 29.7% shooting from 3-point range ranked 322 out of 347 D-1 teams.

Meanwhile, Drury made its living forcing tempo on opponents.

The Panthers led the GLVC with 18.3 forced turnovers a game, helping to get them in transition which usually ended with a Cameron Adams dunk, or an Alex Hall trey.

The Panthers scored 75-plus points in 20 games this season, while the Bears hit that threshold just five times, two of which came against D-2 programs.

Although the numbers for Drury are impressive, we can’t forget the pedigree of the Bears.

The Panthers have seen few teams throughout the season that can match the talent and athleticism of Missouri State.

In addition to Downing and Marshall, juniors Keith Pickens and Nathan Scheer are two talented and versatile forwards that could cause Drury problems on the defensive end.

Drury won’t do anything that the guys in maroon and white haven’t seen before.

While Hall and Lockhart are great players, they don’t really compare to Marcus Smart from Oklahoma State (a future lottery pick) or MVC Player of the Year Doug McDermott. Missouri State’s familiarity to seeing great talent and top teams would be a decisive advantage for the Bears.

The mini games within the game would be fascinating.

Who would win the tempo battle? Will Drury speed up the Bears, or will Missouri State turn it into a half court contest, forcing the Panthers to execute against the bigger Bears?

What fan base and student section becomes more of a factor? Drury was 16-1 at “The O” this season, with the lone loss coming in overtime to Wisconsin-Parkside, 90-88.

Also, seeing Hall work for his shots against the combination of Pickens, Scheer, and Downing would be intriguing. The Kickapoo native, who scored 144 points in 6 NCAA Tournament games, could have been a member of this year’s team, but turned down a late offer from then head coach Cuonzo Martin to don the red and black of Drury.

The Lockhart versus Marshall matchup would be quite the battle. Marshall is the more gifted player, and in three years could go down as one the best players in Missouri State history. However, playing against such a talented and crafty senior in Lockhart would certainly have its pitfalls. The St. Louis native, and former teammate of NBA lottery pick Bradley Beal, also turned down D-1 offers to attend Drury.

The added fire of playing for city bragging rights could go either way.

The Bears could come out eager to show the differences between D-1 and D-2, whereas Drury could come out fired up to take on the state’s second largest program.

So, it comes down to a battle of skills and wills.

One game.

Forty minutes.

For everything and nothing all in one, could the 2012-13 Drury men beat Missouri State?

Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

Tags :  
Topics : Men's Basketball
People : Alex HallAnthony DowningBrandon LockhartChristian KirkCuonzo MartinGavin ThurmanKeith PickensMarcus MarshallMarcus SmartNathan ScheerSteve Hesser

04/12/2013 2:24PM
Could Drury beat Missouri State?
Please Enter Your Comments Below
04/12/2013 3:13PM
Could they? Of course they could. Anyone who says differently doesn't pay attention to small college basketball. Marshall and Thurman are going to be good players, but they're just freshman. Nate Scheer couldn't start for Drury (he can't guard his shadow). It's common knowledge around town that the two teams have agreed in principle to play an exhibition game next year. Drury has been trying to get that game for years. You think it's any accident that MSU only agreed to it the year AFTER Hall and Lockhart graduate? If you need any more proof, check out the latest Massey Ratings. Massey rates all college basketball teams, regardless of division. Drury is currently ranked #77 in the country. MSU is #184. Finally, while MSU no question plays a tougher schedule they lost to freaking Alabama A&M this year. Alabama A&M wouldn't finish in the top 6 in Drury's conference. If Alabama A&M can beat MSU, this year's Drury team sure as heck could.
04/12/2013 3:19PM
...the fact is made even more incredible given the scholarship difference. Give Drury 3 more rides (Division 2 only gets 10, D1 gets 13) and see what happens.
04/14/2013 8:07AM
Who cares
Who cares if Drury beats MSU, yea it maybe cool bragging rights, but MSU is terrible this year, let's put Drurys athleticism against a team like SLU or Mizzou... Drury won the D2 champ.. Yet I feel they woulda gotten curb stomped by a terrible Mizzou team
04/16/2013 8:07AM
Could Drury win? Certainly, we see all the time how teams with less talent are able to pull upsets on any given night. Drury has some D-1 level talent, is well coached and a veteran team; exactly the formula for being able to upset a D-1 program. Missouri State was very young and not that big this year, also a formula for losing to lesser teams as we saw early in the year. But with all that said, I see Missouri State winning 8/10 games if the two actually played. Kids tend to find their level in college choices to play sports and while Drury has a few D-1 level players, they don't have enough to contend with where Missouri State was by the end of the season.As far as ducking Drury in exhibitions, get real.The same Drury squad was not that good the previous year so this years run was hardly anticipated; things geled and they had a great season. Congrats to them are in order. As far as Drury vs Mizzou; the Tigers are too timid to even take on other D-1 programs in the State like MSU/SLU, they certainly wouldn't risk it with Drury.
04/17/2013 9:49AM
No Chance Whatsoever
Congrats to Drury but MSU would win easily. Division 2 doesn't even come close to division 1....MSU wins by 30 points
04/18/2013 10:16PM
Totally different level of college basketball....... Could Evangel beat Drury ?? For the record, Missouri State would defintely win easy and I also am proud of Drury's run in D-2 this season. Division 1 is totally a difference level in college basketball.
04/18/2013 10:25PM
Super question and of course, Mo State would beat Drury. Very happy for Drury, however would not be a game. I even played at Drury and know better. D-l is just much higher level.
05/13/2013 11:04AM
Panthers Win Easily
Panthers would destroy the Bears. No question. Not even close.
05/20/2013 11:24PM
Would root hard for Drury great kids with passion Mo State not so much they seem to go through the motions most games.
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