Tuesday, February 24, 7PM
Audio to Listen To
Bluejay Coach Dana Altman (BS 590)
This game doesn’t need bullet points. The Jays just need to keep winning. If there is not a win tonight for the Jays, it will sort of complicate things if they are still hoping for an MVC regular season championship. This game is important enough that (though this was scheduled months ag0) KMTV is pre-empting CBS programming and the first big address by new President Obama to show the Jays in Springfield tonight. Because of this pre-emption, KMTV now has to fill time until 9:30 which may not be too hard because of Senior Night festivities for the Missouri St. Seniors, Chris Cooks, Wade Knapp and the Laurie brothers.
Tonight’s game at Missouri St. will be the first step in trying to get some MVC tourney seeding in place. Missouri St.’s 10th seed is set in stone, but while Northern Iowa, Illinois St. and the Jays fight for the 1st-3rd seeds, and Bradley fights to not fall as far as 6th, the other 5 teams in the Valley are in positions that any of them could end up playing in the Thursday night play-in games in St. Louis. There are 1024 different scenarios as far as seeding goes for the MVC tournament going into this week. It just seems crazy that things are so much in the air yet, but will make for an exciting week.
One thing is for sure. The Jays are not going to be able to coast tonight. Missouri St. knocked off Drake on Senior night last year. In fact, (though this fact has been beat to death) Missouri St. has won on Senior Day for almost 2 decades straight (19 years). There will be a lot of emotions going on in the JQH Arena and the Jays will have to fight through that. The first half of the game in Omaha shows that Missouri St. is a capable team and if they do that for a whole game, then the Jays are in trouble.
Kyle Weems is still the guy that the Jays need to key on tonight. His jumper at the buzzer Saturday propelled Missouri State over UT Martin in Bracketbuster weekend. He spent a lot of time in the game in Omaha staring down the Creighton bench in the first half before the Jays shut him down and he went cold as ice.
However, the Jays have been playing great team ball over this 8 game winning streak and it has been the play of Kenny Lawson and Kenton Walker that has really shown through. These two guys have stepped it up to solifiy the inside and to give the Jays an inside threat as well as the perimeter threat. Also, the two line change lineups have kept fresh guys in the game and has kept good continuity of players knowing each other. You don’t have any really odd lineups lately and the same guys seem to be on the court together at the same time which has really kept a nice flow to the offense, defense and talking to each other.
If the Jays win tonight, they will be coming back to a frenzied packed house on Saturday against Illinois St. in front of a National TV audience for their opportunity to take the conference and to stake their claim to be in the conversation other than locking up an NIT bid.
But first it is Missouri St. The average score for these teams since 1980 is 68-65 in favor of Creighton. In the last 4 games @ Missouri St., the games have been in single digits. This one will be close, but I think the streak for the Bears needs to end and the Jays have a goal that they will not let go of.
Prediction: Jays 71, Missouri St. 65