Paul Lusk

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Missouri State announces departure of leading scorer

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Two days after it was announced that Missouri State junior guard Marcus Marshall had been suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, head coach Paul Lusk announced Friday afternoon that Marshall has left the team and will transfer in May.

“Marcus is a good kid who is trying to find his way, and we wish him the best,” Lusk said in the release. “This is a mutual decision that will be the best thing moving forward for our program and for him.”

Marshall was averaging 19.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game for the Bears, who are 8-9 overall and 2-3 in Missouri Valley play following their 56-54 loss to Evansville on Wednesday. Marshall, who was the lone double-digit scorer (average) for Missouri State, put together good numbers in his return from a torn ACL suffered in a home loss to Wichita State during the 2013-14 season.

Marshall shot 45.9% from the field and 45.6% from three for the Bears, who as a team are shooting just 41.1% from the field this season.

Missouri State’s next two games are against Northern Iowa and No. 15 Wichita State, with Saturday’s game at UNI beginning a stretch in which three of their next four are on the road. The lone home game: Wichita State. Northern Iowa (37.9%) and Wichita State (41.1%) lead the Valley in field goal percentage defense, which was likely to be a problem for Missouri State even if Marshall were available.

Missouri State’s leading scorer suspended for ‘conduct detrimental to the team’

Missouri State v Texas Tech
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After playing in just 12 games last season due to a torn ACL suffered in an overtime loss to Wichita State, Missouri State guard Marcus Marshall has been one of the best players in the Missouri Valley Conference to this point in the season. Marshall’s averaging 19.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, shooting 45.9% from the field, 45.6% from three and nearly 90 percent from the charity stripe in 14 games played (13 starts).

Unfortunately for Marshall he won’t be on the court when the Bears take on Evansville Wednesday night, as it was reported by Lyndal Scranton of the Springfield (Missouri) News-Leader before the game that the 6-foot-3 junior has been suspended indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team.”

Multiple sources said that Marshall and head coach Paul Lusk had a disagreement during the team’s afternoon game-day practice.

Also of note in Scranton’s story is that “Lusk has been publicly critical of his upperclassmen, including Marshall, for a lack of leadership over the last week.” After winning their first two conference games Missouri State (8-8, 2-2) enters Wednesday having lost their last two contests.

No other Bear is averaging double figures for Missouri State, which averages just 64.9 points per game and is shooting 41.4% from the field. Missouri State is ranked seventh in the Valley in scoring offense and ninth in field goal percentage, with Austin Ruder (8.8 ppg) being the team’s leading scorer with Marshall out of lineup.

With that being the case Missouri State’s play on the defensive end of the floor is of even greater importance against the Purple Aces, who are averaging nearly 75 points per game and shooting 51.6% from the field. The Valley’s leading scorer, guard D.J. Balentine, is scoring a conference-best 21.4 ppg for Evansville.

Missouri State missing starting wing until later in December

Ron Mvouika, Cleanthony Early
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Missouri State has dealt with some injury issues this season as senior wing Ron Mvouika continues to miss time due to a bulging disc in his lower back.

A native of France, the 6-foot-6 Mvouika won the starting three job this preseason but has only played in two games and 20 total minutes of playing time this season and hasn’t played since Nov. 22.

According to a report from Lyndal Scranton of the News-Leader, Mvouika is hoping to return in time for Missouri Valley Conference play at the end of December.

“I’ll know more in about a week,” Mvouika said in the report. “We’re not going to rush anything, but I’ll be confident that I’ll be able to be present for the first conference game (Dec. 31). Maybe even before.”

The injury occurred for Mvouika when he was going up for a rebound in an exhibition game against Missouri Southern. The injury really hasn’t improved, which has forced the senior to miss likely a month of action.

When Mvouika returns to the lineup, he’ll give Missouri State an experienced wing who can also give some floor spacing as an additional three-point threat. Only Marcus Marshall and Austin Ruder have made more than five three-pointers this season for the Bears and Mvouika should be able to help a little bit in that category while aiding the team’s two leading scorers.

Missouri State’s Marcus Marshall works to strengthen knee, leadership abilities

Marcus Marshall, Chadrack Lufile
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Prior to its NCAA tournament loss to Kentucky, there were a couple close calls during the regular season for a Wichita State team that finished the year with a 35-1 record. One of those came on January 11, as the Shockers were taken to overtime by Paul Lusk’s Missouri State Bears. The Bears, who would finish the season with a 20-13 record, lost that game 72-69 in overtime but just as big as the result was a key personnel loss.

Guard Marcus Marshall, who scored 15 points and played nearly 40 minutes in that close defeat, would not play again in 2013-14 as a result of a right knee injury suffered late in regulation. Gone from the rotation was a player averaging 14.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per contest, and as a result Missouri State struggled to maintain some semblance of consistency for the remainder of the year (8-9 record).

Now working to get back to full strength, Marshall discussed his renewed appreciation for the game in a story written by Lyndal Scranton of the Springfield News-Leader.

“It was a humbling experience,” Marshall said of the first serious injury of his basketball career. “I talked to [assistant] coach [Jermaine] Henderson maybe the third game after I was hurt, and it’s like he made me realize, ‘You never can take things for granted. You never know what’s going to happen.’

“You have to be grateful every time you step on that floor and lace up your shoes, man. You never know. It could be your last game. It could be your last game of the season like it was for me. It makes you appreciate what you have.”

Marshall’s progression is an important storyline this offseason for Missouri State, which has to account for the loss of leading scorer Jamar Gulley (14.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg). Gulley and Marshall were Missouri State’s lone double-digit scorers last season, meaning that more will be asked of returning options such as guards Austin Ruder and Dorrian Williams and forward Christian Kirk.

Missouri State has five newcomers joining the program, with two being junior college transfers. But it will be Marshall who is asked to lead the way for the Bears in 2014-15. While working towards getting back to full strength physically, he’s also looking to take another step forward as a leader this summer.

Missouri State guard Marcus Marshall suffers torn meniscus

Marcus Marshall
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Missouri State lost more than just a tough overtime game against Wichita State this past Saturday; they also lost sophomore guard Marcus Marshall to a torn meniscus.

Marshall’s out indefinitely after suffering the injury to his right knee; surgery is scheduled to take place this Wednesday.

Missouri State head coach Paul Lusk said in a statement:

We’ll know more about his prognosis after the surgery. It’s unfortunate because he was just starting to get into a rhythm after his earlier injury, and it has been a very fragmented season for him. Obviously Marcus is a big part of our program and our future, and it’s unfortunate when these things happen. But we will push forward as a team, and continue preparing for the two big road games we have ahead of us this week.

The Bears have rebounded nicely this season as they currently stand at 12-4 — already one win better than their 2012-13 season total — and look like contenders in the Missouri Valley. Marshall, who was last year’s Missouri Valley Rookie of the Year, is a big reason for the resurgence as he’s the Bears’ leading scorer at 14.3 ppg.