Southern earns nation’s No. 2 ranking

Missouri+Southern+guard+Matt+Everson+drives+towards+the+basket+in+the+Lions%E2%80%99+MIAA+opener+against+Truman+Wednesday+night.%0A

Willie Brown

Missouri Southern guard Matt Everson drives towards the basket in the Lions’ MIAA opener against Truman Wednesday night.

Jordan Larimore

 

According to the National Association of Basketball Coaches, there is only one Division-II men’s basketball team better than the one at Missouri Southern.

“It’s a nice honor to think people around the country think you’ve got one of the better basketball teams in the country,” Head Coach Robert Corn said. “But at the same token, it doesn’t put any points on the scoreboard for you. You’ve got to go out and compete each and every night, and you’ve got to go out and prove that you’re worthy of that recognition.”

Corn’s team was voted into the No. 4 spot in the national Division-II rankings preseason, and has used a perfect 6-0 start to its 2011-12 season to climb to its highest ever ranking at No. 2.

“We’ve had two games where we could have very easily lost the games,” Corn said. “But we found ways to get it done, and that’s very important. It’s just a confidence builder when you’re put in that position again that you know that you can do it. Versus, I mean, it can snowball the other way to, if you start losing all those games, the mindset is ‘OK, here we go again.’ So it’s very important early on in your season to find a way to win those games because it is a confidence builder for down the road.”

The latest close call for the Lions came when they faced future MIAA foe, the Northeastern State University Riverhawks. The Lions edged out a 68-66 win in the game, played at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Senior guard Patrick Hester hit a go-ahead and eventually game-winning 3-pointer to give Southern its sixth consecutive victory.

Tomorrow, the Lions will travel to Warrensburg to face one of the MIAA’s historically stronger teams, the University of Central Missouri Mules, who reached the conference’s postseason championship tournament, but were ousted in the first round a season ago.

“Central Missouri is probably one of the more athletic teams in the conference,” Corn said. “They’re going to be tough, they’re always tough no matter where you play them, but particularly at home so it’s going to be a tough challenge for us going up there … They’re just so athletic and just physically strong, they’re going to try to get by you off the dribble, they’re going to try to bang on you. Obviously Keane [Thomann, senior center] is going to have to be ready for the double-team ‘cause they double-teamed him last year. We’ve got to be ready to handle those type of things.”

Before winning the nail-biter at the Sprint Center, Southern went undefeated through the Pittsburg State Classic, beating Avila and Mid-America Nazarene Universities by a combined 50 points.

Wednesday, the Lions opened their conference slate by hosting the Bulldogs of Truman State University.

The Lions handled TSU, coming away with an 89-43 victory, thanks in part to a 31-point output from Thomann.

 

 

Men’s basketball

Division-II National rankings

 

 

 

1. Bellarmine (KY)

2. Missouri Southern

3. Metropolitan State

4. Lincoln Memorial

5. Southern Indiana

6. Humboldt State

7. Alabama-Huntsville

8. Indiana (PA)

9. Kentucky Wesleyan

10. Benedict (SC)

11. Colorado (Mines)

12. Ga. Southwestern

13. Findlay (OH)

14. West Liberty

15. Arkansas Tech