After dropping its first two MIAA conference games and sitting at 5-3 on season, the Missouri Western men’s basketball team will find out if they are conference contenders in its next three games against No.1 Missouri Southern, No. 10 Hays and Washburn.
The Griffons will play host to No. 1 Missouri Southern on Dec. 7 at the MWSU field house. Southern is 9-0 on the season and 2-0 in MIAA play. The Griffons will have to find a way to match up with the size of the Lions who are led by Keane Thomann, a 6’11”, 270 pound senior who is averaging 22.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per-game and shooting 73 percent from the field. Keane is coming off a career high of 32 points. Athletic swing-man Jason Adams is averaging 21.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. 6’5” sophomore Jordan Talbert is averaging 16 points and seven rebounds for the Lions. Southern is ranked No. 1 for the first time since the school turned Division II in 1989.
On Dec. 10 the Griffons will travel to Hays, Kan., to take on No. 10 ranked Fort Hays State University. The Tigers have a 7-0 record, are 1-0 in conference play and are led by a trio of guards. 6’3” Karron McKenzie leads the team in scoring at 16.3 points-per-game and also is pulling down 6.3 rebounds per game. 6’1” Tyrone Phillip is getting 14.4 points-per-game, and speedy 5’8” Kendrick Morse is getting 11.3 points per game. Big man 6’7” Matt Simmons leads the Tigers in rebounds with 11.3 per game on the season. Hays defeated Lincoln 78-65 in it’s first MIAA game.
On Dec. 17 Western will travel to Topeka, Kan., to take on the Washburn Ichabods. Washburn has a 5-3 record on the season and 0-1 in conference play, dropping its last game to Northwest Missouri State University 65-59. The Ichabods are led in scoring by Will McNeil at 16.5 points-per-game. 6’1” McNeil also grabs six rebounds per game from the guard position. Guard Martin Mitchell is second on the team in scoring at 12.3 points-per-game.
The Griffons are led in scoring by T.J. Johnson and Lavonte Douglas, both at 13.4 points per game. Douglas also pulls down 6.8 rebounds per game while Justin Reid leads the team in boards at 7.5 per game. James Harris is getting 12.9 points per game for Western in his first season after transferring from South Suburban JUCO. Western is averaging 67.9 points-per-game on the season.