Leading 65-63 with 7.8 seconds left, Illinois State turned it over on an inbounds play.
The ball changed hands several times, leading to multiple players diving for the loose ball and it finally fell to Dixon, who took one dribble and launched it off the backboard before getting tackled by his teammates.
The Bears moved into a three-way tie with Illinois State and Drake for second, two games behind Loyola-Chicago, in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.
Tulio Da Silva posted 17 points and seven rebounds and Ryan Kreklow had 14 points for Missouri State (13-12, 7-5), which earned its fourth consecutive home victory. Dixon added 13 points. Josh Webster had 11 points for the hosts.
Keandre Cook, who was second on the Bears in scoring entering the contest with 14 points per game, shot only 10 percent for the game (1 of 10).
Phil Fayne had 22 points for the Redbirds (14-11, 7-5). Milik Yarbrough added 17 points and six rebounds. Zach Copeland had 12 points.
Illinois State led by as many as eight points and Fayne’s jumper gave the Redbirds a 58-51 advantage with three minutes to go. Webster grabbed and offensive rebound and scored with 13 seconds left and, after Zach Copeland answered with two free throws, converted a 3-point play to make it 65-63, setting up the final scramble.
Ranking the 10 best coaching hires heading into this season
It was a relatively quiet Coaching Carousel in 2017-18 considering everything that happened in the sport of college basketball in the past year, but there still were seven high-major jobs that changed hands as well as a number of spots in leagues like the Atlantic 10, the Mountain West and the bottom of the American.
Not every hire made this offseason made waves, and not every decision to fire a head coach resulted in a lawsuit, but there was plenty to make the 2018-19 season fascinating for a handful of programs.
Let’s take a look back on some of those big name coaching decisions.
Who made the best hires?
Did anyone make a head-scratching decision?
Who is guaranteed success?
Who is locked into failure?
Here are the 10 best hires of the carousel.
1. CHRIS MACK, Louisville
Chris Mack may have not been here before, but it was something close. When he took over Xavier from Sean Miller in 2009, there were high expectations associated with succeeding a wildly successful coach. The situation is different for him now in Louisville – he’s following one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of the game at one of its most storied programs and amid NCAA (and FBI) scrutiny – but the idea is the same. Win now, and win big.
Mack seems equipped to do both. He kept things rolling at Xavier, making the Musketeers a powerhouse, first in the Atlantic 10 and then in the Big East. He’s already scoring wins on the recruiting trail, which is going to be more indicative of his long-term success with the Cardinals than anything. He’s a proven winner and seemingly the perfect man to take over a high profile job in a tough situation.
2. DAN HURLEY, UConn
There haven’t been many high-profile hires in recent years that seem to just make as much sense as this one. UConn has a sense of urgency to return to prominence following a seemingly instant slide into mediocrity under coach Kevin Ollie after capturing the 2014 national championship. Hurley has made his name – well he’s built on the name his father, legendary prep coach Bob, put on the map and his brother, Bobby, helped perpetuate – in the northeast and would seem perfect to recruit the prep school circuit that has so much talent in the area. Getting the Huskies back to where Jim Calhoun had them seems maybe an impossible task in today’s landscape, but Hurley has the resume and talent to get them out of this rut and back competing for league titles and national relevance.
3. PENNY HARDAWAY, Memphis
My favorite hire of the offseason. Tubby Smith is undoubtedly a fine basketball coach, but he’s not exactly injecting a ton of excitement into a program. That was clear toward the end of his tenure in Memphis, which was hemorrhaging cash amid falling attendance figures and an even sharper decline in hope. Enter the most decorated and beloved player in program history, with an All-Star NBA career and all the Memphis recruiting ties any booster could dream of. Penny Hardaway may have zero experience coaching beyond the high school level, but he clearly resonates with recruits and adding Sam Mitchell to his staff should help whatever Xs and Os and organizational issues he’ll need to sort through. Hardaway is unproven, but he’s exciting as hell. The moves he’s already made in assembling his staff and getting to work on the recruiting trail suggest there’s substance to the style, too.
4. JEFF CAPEL, Pittsburgh
This is an interesting spot for Capel. He’s had success as a head man at VCU and Oklahoma, but also experienced how fleeting all that can be in his final two seasons with the Sooners. A seven year stint on the bench with Coach K, a host of five-star recruits to your credit and a national championship on your resume is enough to get another high-major chance, though. Despite its historical success, Pitt is a more difficult job now in the ACC than when it was in the Big East, but it’s still got cache. Capel already has the Panthers involved with some high-level recruits – but it’ll be if he can reel them in that will ultimately decide how his third go-round leading a program is judged.
5. TOM CREAN, Georgia
This wasn’t exactly an exciting hire for the Bulldogs after Crean’s tenure in Indiana sort of petered out, but that’s probably not giving Crean enough credit for all he accomplished in – and the players he brought to – Bloomington. No, he’s not the exciting up-and-comer who brought Dwyane Wade to Marquette anymore, but Crean still won a ton of games with the Hoosiers. He’s also widely regarded in the industry as a serious grinder who didn’t just cash TV checks in his time off the bench, but rather continued to learn and study. Maybe he won’t have runaway success in Athens, but I think something like what Rick Barnes has done at Tennessee is very much a possibility.
6. ASHLEY HOWARD, La Salle
La Salle was never able to capitalize on its Sweet 16 appearance of 2013, with three losing seasons and two others one game above .500 following John Giannini’s second weekend run. The Explorers had eight seasons of sub-.500 ball in Giannini’s 14 seasons at the helm, in fact. So it makes a lot of sense to look across town on Jay Wright’s staff for an answer. Howard has had assistant stints at La Salle, Drexel and Villanova, where he won a couple of national championships, so his Big 5 credentials are impeccable. It’s hard to imagine La Salle doing better than this hire.
7. JAMION CHRISTIAN, Siena
Somehow, Siena went from an ugly breakup with Jimmy Patsos to snagging a 36-year-old head coach who already been to two NCAA tournaments and recruited well enough to Mount St. Mary’s to be perpetually (or so it seemed) losing players to up-transfers. This is a hire that seems destined to succeed.
8. DANA FORD, Missouri State
With Creighton and Wichita State seeking out greener pastures, Missouri State is well positioned to compete year-in and year-out in the Missouri Valley Conference. Ford, 34, engineered a quick turnaround at Tennessee State before things started teetering in Years 3 and 4, but he’s well regarded and would seem set up to succeed in an area the Illinois State graduate and one-time Wichita State assistant knows well.
9. TRAVIS STEELE, Xavier
If history is any guide, Travis Steele is going to win a ton of games with Xavier. From Thad Matta to Sean Miller to Chris Mack, the Musketeers promote from within and then go on to win. It’s simply what they do. Steele’s resume leaves little doubt that it’ll continue yet again in Cincinnati.
10. NIKO MEDVED, Colorado State
After a tumultuous run and messy end, the marriage between Larry Eustachy and Colorado State came to an end this season, leaving the door open for the Rams to pursue ties to the staff that helped them to back-to-back NCAA tournaments in 2012 and 2013. Medved coached for Tim Miles as he built Colorado State into a contender, and then stuck around with Eustachy for a year as Colorado State earned an eight seed and tournament win. Then it was Furman, where he improved their win total every year before leaving for a one-year stop at Drake. Medved knows what it takes to win in Fort Collins, and he’s familiar with rebuilding jobs.
Nevada lost a talented player from last season’s team as rising junior Josh Hall opted to transfer to Missouri State on Friday night.
The 6-foot-7 Hall is a former top-150 recruit who played a key part in the Wolf Pack’s postseason run as he elevated his play to average 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game during the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Hall also made the game-winning bucket to lift Nevada past No. 2 seed Cincinnati in the second round.
Although Hall picked up his play late in the year, he was coming off the bench most of his sophomore campaign as he averaged 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.
Since Nevada took in some talented transfers, while players like Jordan Caroline and the Martin twins opted not to turn pro, it left head coach Eric Musselman with too many scholarship players for the 2018-19 season. It looks like some of those issues are now going away as Hall is leaving for Missouri State and graduate transfer guard Ehab Amin opted to decommit from the school.
Nevada is expected to be a preseason top-10 team next season with all of the talent they have returning to the roster, along with the addition of some new pieces like McDonald’s All-American big man Jordan Brown.
Hall will likely have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules as he still has two years of eligibility remaining.
Chris Holtmann’s Bulldogs, who fell to Notre Dame in the Round of 32 this past spring, will open with Missouri Valley Conference representative Missouri State. While Butler will have to account for the loss of contributors Kameron Woods and Alex Barlow, Kellen Dunham, Andrew Chrabascz and Roosevelt Jones are back and the team adds point guard Tyler Lewis to the mix. Lewis sat out last season after transferring in from NC State. Missouri State finished the 2014-15 season with an 11-20 record.
Also on that side of the bracket are Minnesota and Temple, with the Owls coming off of a Postseason NIT appearance and the Golden Gophers missing out on postseason play after winning the NIT in 2014. The Owls will have some key departures to account for, most notably all-conference guard Will Cummings, if they’re to contend in the American Athletic Conference. Minnesota also lost some key players from 2014-15, but sophomore guard Nate Mason will be back to lead the way.
On the other side of the bracket Utah was the most successful team in 2014-15, as they reached the Sweet 16 before falling to eventual national champion Duke. Delon Wright has moved on to the NBA, but Larry Krystkowiak welcomes back most of his rotation including center Jakob Poeltl, Brandon Taylor and Jordan Loveridge. The Runnin’ Utes open with Texas Tech, which is looking to find its footing under Tubby Smith.
The other quarterfinal matchup may be the best one of the event, as it matches two teams looking to take a major step forward in 2015-16. Miami, which reached the title game of the Postseason NIT, returns the majority of its rotation and could potentially be an NCAA tournament team. They’ll take on Mississippi State, which has made major waves this offseason. Not only did the Bulldogs hire Ben Howland to take over as head coach, but they also landed one of the top prospects in the Class of 2015 in Malik Newman.
All eight teams will get to play three games in Puerto Rico, with the tournament beginning with a quarterfinal quadruple-header November 19. There will also be four games November 20, with the tournament concluding Sunday, November 22.
Nevada picks up a high-scoring transfer from Missouri State
Before leaving, Marshall was averaging 19.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game for Missouri State while shooting 45 percent from the field and from 3-point range.
The addition of Marshall should be a significant boost to the Wolfpack and new head coach Eric Musselman. Per NCAA transfer rules, Marshall will have to sit out next season, but will be eligible for his final season beginning during the 2016-17 season.
Missouri State announces departure of leading scorer
“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.